Review: Cameo and the Vampire

Reviewed by Jen

Let me start by reminding you that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I will be the first to admit that this cover would be a total turn-off if I hadn’t already read the first two books in this series. But since I was already a fan of Cameo, there was no way I was going to miss the chance to see how her story ends.

This book picks up right where the last one left off. Cameo has barely escaped with her life after being bitten by Edel, then witnessing his murder. She makes her way back to Opal, with Jules –the former assassin and newly turned zombie– trailing along. Once reunited, Cameo and Opal decide to seek out Kyrian to help heal Opal’s injuries.

Kyrian, meanwhile, has met with other acolytes who have called to him for help. They are planning to take down Haffef, who by the way, is focused solely on bringing Cameo’s sister back to life. There are a lot of twists and turns that carry us to the inevitable showdown between Cameo and her maker. And that’s kind of a double edged sword. One of the things I like best about this series is that it’s so different from the other books out there. The characters can’t be compared to your standard supernaturals. The setting is unusual and the plotline, unpredictable.

But. There are what felt like a lot of red herrings in this installment. Or maybe they are dangling plotlines… which is bothersome for the conclusion of a series. For instance, there’s a surprise baby thrown in and it seems like that might go somewhere and then –it doesn’t. Hints of a possible love triangle linger, then crash and burn. And perhaps most disturbing of all is the fate of Cameo’s sister. What did she become? Where did she go? She was pretty much the impetus for everything that happened. Then the thread was just dropped.

Obviously, these things bothered me, but I still enjoyed the story. Opal is still a complete enigma to me, even after three books. Cameo is fascinating in her tortured and macabre way. And the series just reeled me in and didn’t let go. There was a pretty concrete ending, but it was kind of surprising and left me wondering where things would go from here for our characters. I guess the author believes in leaving them wanting more. Because if she wrote another book, I’d read it. Almost 4 stars.

P.S. If you’ve never read this series, this book is not the place to start. Give Cameo the Assassin a try. It’s usually $.99 on the Kindle.

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Cameo and the Vampire
by Dawn McCullough-White
Release Date: October 24, 2011
Publisher: Claypipe Press

Review: Cameo and the Highwayman

Reviewed by Jen

Cameo and the Highwayman picks up immediately following the events of Cameo the Assassin. And I wish I could say that things are looking up for our heroine, but the hits just keep on coming.  Cameo is on a mission to recapture her sister’s remains for her vampire master Haffef.  Opal and Kyrian are at her side.  But just one day after they arrive on the distant shores near the royal palace, Cameo encounters Edel, a vampire who also calls Haffef his master.

Edel thinks that he has escaped Haffef and forces Cameo to stay with him, as a companion.  To pacify her, he allows her a night with Opal.  Finally, the two of them have a chance to admit their growing feelings for one another and act on them. But their happiness is short-lived, as events rip Opal away from Cameo and she is prevented from coming to his aid.

This book seemed shorter than the one before it, more like a novella than a full-blown novel. And I was disappointed. Because I wanted more.  The tension, the action, the emotion… all kept building and building until it all exploded at the book’s conclusion.  I was surprised at the way things ended and frankly kind of pissed off that I couldn’t find out what happens next.  That’s right. We’ve got a cliffhanger here and it’s a doozy.  This sequel better than the original and you can be sure I intend to read Cameo and the Vampire when it comes out in the fall.  4 1/2 stars.

Cameo and the Highwayman
by Dawn McCullough-White
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace

Review: Cameo the Assassin

Reviewed by Jen

Cameo the Assassin is set in a past/alternative world that is both dark and bleak.   As the story begins, Cameo is clinging to life, after a brutal rape and attack.  But a vampire steps in and keeps her from succumbing. She survives, in a manner of speaking. She becomes the vampire’s thrall, half-living, half-undead.

Years later, she has become an assassin. In the course of a hit, her path crosses with two highwaymen who rob her carriage. She lets them escape, but tracks one down later to get her things back.   It’s those same highwaymen who become her next targets for assassination. She would have carried out that mission as well, if her boss hadn’t sent Gail with her as a partner.  She was a victim of Gail, herself, once. And the urge to kill him finally gets the better of her.  Now she is thrown together with Opal and Bel as they try to survive the next wave of assassins.

Opal confused me a little as a character. He is flamboyant and over the top. He wears lots of make-up and Cameo asks more than once if he and Bel are involved. Yet, he is also painted as a rake who charms the pants off of women and develops a thing for Cameo, himself.  I’m not entirely sure what to make of him, even now.  But I do know, that I found myself rooting for him and Cameo to reach out to each other throughout the course of the book.  So maybe all the make-up and purple brocade were just lagniappe.  Who knows?

Joining our strange trio is a teenage acolyte named Kyrian.  Cameo becomes his protector after his grandfather shows her a kindness.  There’s mystery surrounding the boy, not the least of which is why Cameo’s master can barely stand his presence.  And speaking of Cameo’s master… he is hardly a benevolent sire.  I’d kind of like to kill him myself.  Despite the fact that he saved Cameo from death, all those years ago, he doesn’t seem much better than the men who nearly killed her in the first place.

Overall, I did like the book. It features vampires and ghouls, but it didn’t feel like standard horror or Urban Fantasy fare.  Cameo isn’t your standard heroine, either.  Most supernatural heroines these days are snarky/sexy/tough/witty women who kick ass on the side of right. Cameo is haunted and broken and surprisingly sympathetic.  I get the impression that she kills because she doesn’t consider herself worthy of doing anything better.  The ragtag group that comes together in the book are likely the only friends she has ever had.  Which makes me ache for her to have just a little bit of happiness with them.

The ending of the book does wrap things up for the most part, but leaves several loose ends for the next installment, Cameo and the Highwayman.  4 stars.

*This book was provided by the author for review.

Click to purchase: Amazon
Cameo the Assassin
by Dawn McCullough-White
Release Date: July 16, 2009
Publisher: iUniverse