First Blood by Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, Chris Marie Green, and Meljean Brook

Berkley

Paranormal

ISBN: 9780425224007

Reviewed by Shayna

   

 

“Cave Canem” by Susan Sizemore

When hellhound pups are stolen from under Dan Conover’s nose, an unlikely alliance is made.  Vampire enforcer Dan is bound by a promise to guard the hellhounds.  Werewolf Tess Sirella is charged with making sure no hellhound is trained to tap into its evil, murderous potential.  Vampires and werewolves aren’t supposed to be attracted to one another…but for every rule, there’s an exception.

“Cave Canem” is part of Susan Sizemore’s Laws of the Blood series.  I found the story to be entertaining and the world Ms. Sizemore has created to be interesting.  However, Tess and Dan’s love story seemed rushed and much of the story was dominated by the subplot.  I feel Tess and Dan’s love story would have been stronger and more believable in a longer format; there simply was too much going on in the novella and not enough time for the romance.

For a newcomer to the series, such as myself, it was easy to follow the main plotline of “Cave Canem.”  However, there was clearly too much history in the series for the subplot involving Valentine and Yevgeny to have an impact at all, which is perhaps part of the reason I found them to be so distracting.  All in all, I think the story will be enjoyable to fans of the Laws of the Blood series.

“Russian Roulette” by Erin McCarthy

Alistair Kirk is a bar owner, a musician, and a vampire.  When he hears that a fledgling vampire is being held captive and faces certain death, he rushes to the rescue.  Sasha Chechikov, once a vampire slayer, now a vampire herself, is on the run from her former associates.  Sasha’s past leaves her wary of trusting anyone, but she can’t deny the sparks that fly between her and her sexy savior.  Will Alistair be able to protect Sasha from her enemies?  And will two vampires who seem so different from one another learn what it means to truly love?

“Russian Roulette” is the first story I’ve ever read by Erin McCarthy and I will definitely be buying more of her books in the future.  I believe the novella is connected to Ms. McCarthy’s Vegas Vampires series, but having never read the books I had no problems following the story at all.  Alistair was interesting, patient, protective, and sexy as all get out; in other words, the ideal hero.  Sasha was vulnerable, yet had a spine of steel and I found her to be endearing.  A fast-paced story with truly likeable characters made “Russian Roulette” a highly entertaining read.

“Double the Bite” by Chris Marie Green

On a hunt to find the cause of his brother’s mysterious death, Ben Tyree finds himself at the infamous Studio 54, and soon in the path of two preternaturally beautiful women.  Ginny and Geneva aren’t just twins, they’re vampires.  Their connection is put to the test when Ginny falls for Ben, much to Geneva’s anger.  How can Ginny choose between the man she’s falling in love with and the sister who won’t let her go?

“Double the Bite” is part of Chris Marie Green’s Vampire Babylon series, but there was enough background given that the story was able to stand on its own.  The story was interesting enough, but I found myself inexplicably unmoved.  I liked Ginny and Ben, but didn’t feel attached to them.  Though the story was not for me, I believe fans of Ms. Green’s Vampire Babylon series will likely enjoy “Double the Bite.”

“Thicker Than Blood” by Meljean Brook

Six years ago, Jack Harrington was in love with Annie Gallagher, until her sudden death turned his world upside down.  But when an intruder breaks into his home one night, the former FBI agent can barely believe his eyes – Annie’s alive…and a vampire.

After her sudden transition, Annie couldn’t bear to let Jack see all that she had become. One night she gives into temptation and decides to feed off a man who resembled Jack, only to find herself face to face with the man himself.  Now that they’re together again, Jack’s not about to let Annie go, vampire or no.  And Annie needs Jack’s help to find a missing girl named Cricket.  Danger swirls around the pair as they search for Cricket while a demon bent on destroying all vampires closes in on the pair.  Will love lost and found be able to overcome supernatural odds?

By far the strongest story in the anthology, I absolutely loved “Thicker Than Blood.”  Meljean Brook has delivered and engaging, thrilling, romantic tale that both seduces and satisfies.  From the first page, I was hooked.  Annie and Jack were both interesting, intelligent, and likeable – they felt real.  I couldn’t put this story down, rooting for them to get their happily ever after and not being able to move until I was certain they would.

The fact that Jack and Annie had been in love before the story began made the romance work better within the anthology format.  Their history was seamlessly intertwined with the present.  Similarly, the romance and the “action” threads of the story wove together flawlessly.

“Thicker Than Blood” is the sixth installment in Ms. Brook’s Guardian series, but newcomers are given enough information that there will be no problems following along.  Fans of the series will undoubtedly enjoy seeing a few of their favorite characters appear in the story.  Utterly perfect!

First Blood is a terrific anthology for fans of vampire romance.  First Blood included four stories connected to or part of established series.  I will definitely be checking out Ms. McCarthy’s Vegas Vampire series now and Meljean Brook, already an autobuy author for me, has delivered another fantastic installment to her Guardian series.  For these two authors alone I would buy this anthology.  Dark and sexy, First Blood is not to be missed!

     

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