Review: Seduced by Blood

Reviewed by Jen

Not every book in this series has been created equal, but I think this is definitely one of the strongest installments.

The story features Santiago, regional commander of the vampire Guardians. (And for those of you following along from the previous books, the boss of Dominic, Lily and Jackson.)  He’s gruff and impatient. He’s domineering and prone to outbursts.  But there is much more to him than that.  He’s also a man full of angst and self-loathing for his own failings. He tortures himself (literally) over his perceived shortcomings.  And he believes himself to be incapable of treating a woman any better than his adulterous father treated his mother.

Santiago’s life gets turned on its ear when Roxy enters the picture.  She is a woman who knows her own mind and heart. He’s not her boss, so she doesn’t have to take his crap… and he barely knows what to do with himself when his tantrums and orders fall on deaf ears.

Roxy was a Guardian long ago, but now she is a teacher to those who need to learn to scent-track. She agrees to teach a course for her old student and friend, Lily, which is what puts her in Santiago’s orbit.  But once he realizes there may be a traitor in his organization, he realizes he can use her special gifts to sniff them out. The two end up posing as lovers as a cover for her internal investigation. From there, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump until their ruse turns into reality.

I liked Roxy a lot. She has issues, sure, but for the most part, she really has her act together.  For all of his swagger and bluster, Santiago is really kind of a basket case.  I enjoyed watching him come to terms with his problems and accept the gifts Roxy is giving.

We didn’t have to wait terribly long for the sex, which was gratifying (’cause the sex was good.)  But I really appreciated the fact that the tender feelings between Roxy and Santiago grew over the course of the book. It felt like their relationship was an evolution and that helped me invest more. –I also thought the Darkblood plot was well-done.  The pacing was good and I liked that the resolution was neither obvious, nor tied in a perfectly neat bow.

The internal conflict was a little heavy on assumptions and misunderstandings, but I’ve seen worse.

This is book four in the Sweetblood series and I think it would work as a standalone, though longtime readers will no doubt enjoy seeing the couples featured in previous books.  I loved seeing how far Dominic and Mackenzie have come!

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Seduced by Blood
by Laurie London
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: HQN

 

Review: Tempted by Blood

Let me start by saying that this is my favorite story so far from the Sweetblood series. Its hero is Jackson, the hot man-whore vamp who played a support role as one of the Guardians in earlier stories. Known best for his sexual conquests and devil-may-care attitude, you’d never know there is more to him than meets the eye. But there is.

Jackson fears he is on the edge of reverting to the dangerous and violent ways of his ancestors. He needs to feed on blood and energy in staggering amounts and he can barely control himself at times. He hides his needs from those around him, cloaking them under his party-boy persona. If the council so much as catches wind he is reverting, it would mean a death sentence.

Arianna has believed in vampires since she saw them kill her mother as a child. But no one believed her. Now she anonymously runs a blog devoted to exposing the paranormal. Her cousin, who she is caring for, was among the sweetbloods kidnapped and almost auctioned away in the events of the last book. Jackson is now monitoring the girl’s safety –and that is what puts him in Arianna’s orbit.

The short version is that Jackson is there to save the day when Darkbloods try to kidnap the girl again. And his attempts to make Arianna forget the incident ultimately fail. He ends up protecting her and her cousin from the persistent Darkblood threat and in the process, they end up falling for each other.

Women have always fallen at Jackson’s feet, but I like the fact that nothing really happens between him and Arriana until she knows and cares for the man he is beneath his smooth exterior.  I love that he is vulnerable and insecure.  And she is so patient and understanding of his needs.

There is solid thread of danger that runs throughout, regarding the Darkbloods and their plans, but this book focuses more on the love story than anything else.  It’s one of the things I enjoyed so much about it.  Oh yeah… and the sex was smokin-hot too.  –Plus I liked the way that the couples from the previous books are woven into the story.  It felt germane to what was happening… not like useless cameos.

Well done. 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Tempted by Blood
by Laurie London
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: HQN Books

Series Reading Order: Sweetblood

This is the reading order for the Sweetblood series by Laurie London:

*Denotes short story/ novella

Review: Hidden by Blood

Finn is a Sweetblood… a human whose blood is intoxicating to vampires. He has been kidnapped and is being used as a blood slave, when his ex-girlfriend Brenna accidentally finds him, hidden in an old hunting cabin. Finn never knew it, but Brenna is a vampire and the entire reason she broke up with him is because she feared that she would one day hurt him. Now that he knows the truth, Finn is determined to make a future with her, despite the risk.

I can’t say I loved this one. First of all, what are the chances that Finn’s ex-girlfriend would accidentally stumble across his hidden little prison? Even if you could get past that, this is a guy who’s been kidnapped, chained, and milked for blood. And he is instantly ok with Brenna being a vampire. He has no suspicions or fear; he just wants to jump her bones. And while I appreciate the fact there’s a little nookie, it’s not even super-steamy. Dom comes across as kind of douchy and Finn makes him change his mind in a nano-second. I know it’s a short story, but it’s all too easy. It just fell flat. 2 1/2 stars.

P.S. We were told 4 times that Brenna has flaxen hair. Would it kill you to just say blonde?

Hidden by Blood
by Laurie London
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Publisher: HQN Books

Review: Embraced by Blood

When we first met Alphonso in Bonded by Blood, he was introduced as the evil brother to our hero, Dom. But before the book was over, we found out that the he was really a double agent who worked inside the Darkblood organization, feeding information to the Guardians. We also discovered that’s he had been having an affair with his Guardian contact Lily, who also happened to be a good friend of Dom’s.

As Embraced by Blood begins, a year has passed.  Alphonso has severed his relationship with Lily, although he is painfully aware that she is the love of his life.  He knows that the Darkbloods will be hunting him for his betrayal and he doesn’t want Lily caught in their crosshairs. Beyond that, he was badly hurt in the climax of the last book and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to defend her with the pervasive injury to his leg.

But now that he’s learned the Darkbloods are hunting for a Guardian tracker to kidnap and convert to their cause, he puts himself back in Lily’s orbit to make sure she is safe.  As the book progresses, the two end up thrown together to foil the Darkbloods’ latest plans to gain strength and abuse humans; while at the same time, trying to outrun the Blood Assassin that has targeted Alphonso.

It took me awhile to get into this book.  Alphonso is trying to be noble and I get that. But a good deal of his misery is of his own making. He has chosen to keep the truth from her. And he isn’t the only one who has suffered for it.  It took a long time to get to anything that felt like progression in their relationship. Just a lot of unhappiness and regret.  Of course, that does change eventually and that is where the book finds its legs.  But it never really measured high on my sexual-tension-o-meter.  Yes, of course, I wanted them together, but there was never a burning in my belly for it. Does that make any sense?

It was frustrating to see Dom’s unwillingness to forgive his brother or believe in his goodness.  And the resolution on that part of the story was a little abrupt.  On the plus side, we have some well drawn secondary characters, like Jackson and Santiago; both of whom have their own books coming soon.

So the bottom line… I liked it ok.  I’m pretty sure I liked the first one better, though.  3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Embraced by Blood
by Laurie London
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Publisher: HQN Books

Review: Bonded by Blood

There are two kind of vampires in the world: those who accept the new ways and those who wish to bring back the ways of old.  The Darkbloods are vampires who believe human lives and blood are theirs for the taking.  Especially those known as “sweetbloods.”  Humans with that special quality in their blood are especially sought after, so much so that Darkbloods sell vials of the stuff on the street like it’s a drug.

Dominic is one of the vampires who embraces a life lived side by side with humanity. He rarely partakes in human blood and when he does –it’s never to kill. He works for a group known as the Agency. They are vampires who police the rest of their kind and fight the Darkbloods.

It’s just after he is gravely injured, that Mac stumbles across Dom’s path. She is a sweetblood –and though he tries to resist her, the pull is too strong and he takes her blood. He takes so much, in fact, that he must give her some of his own to save her life. The exchange activates a blood bond between the two, a rare and binding tie, which allows them to sense each others emotions and even share thoughts.

The story was easy to get into.  The world-building easy to follow. And perhaps most importantly, the building sexual tension between the two main characters was played to perfection.  However, there was a bit of predictability as the story arc played out.  I think some of the foreshadowing was a little heavy-handed and I would have liked to be surprised a little more.  Also, I found some of the scenes cut off a bit more abruptly than I’d like –and we’d see days or weeks gone as we went into another scene without seeing immediate repercussions of what happened immediately before.

All that being said, I did enjoy it.  It was an easy read, not too complex, with some hot sex.
Almost 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley