Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

My Rating: 4.0 / 5.0

This is the second book in the Midnight Breed series. My review of the first book, Kiss of Midnight, includes some background to this book and the world in which it is set. If you have not read the first book yet, I would suggest that you avoid this review as it contains spoilers about it.

Dante, one of the Warriors that protect the Breed, thinks that he is facing a normal Rogue, but it is unaffected by the touch of his titanium-infused dagger. Still, he runs after this new menace, determined to stop it before it can wreak havoc on the city. However, when he finally has it cornered and can decapitate it, he comes under fire from a concentrated hail of bullets and has to dive into the river to escape. Terribly injured, he eventually crawls into the veterinary clinic of Tess Culver. He instinctively feeds on her, but then removes all trace of himself from her memory. However, as he is leaving, he sees the unmistakable birthmark that shows that she is a Breedmate, and he has started the process of claiming her by drinking from her.

Haunted by the vision of his death, Dante does not want to take Tess as his Mate, but he is drawn to her. Then she becomes tangled up in a new threat to the Breed’s safety caused by a drug that creates a new type of super-Rogue from the young vampires that take it for recreation. Although he wants to protect her from himself and his world, Dante must put his misgivings aside as they work together to find the source of the drug and prevent the new Rogues over-running the both human population and the Breed itself.

As with the earlier book, this is most definitely a Paranormal Romance. The main characters are engaging enough, with sufficiently unusual backstories to make them interesting. Fortunately, they are slightly less irritating about their obvious attraction to one another when compared to Gabrielle and Lucan in the first book. The secondary characters fair reasonably well and the adorable little dog, Harvard, is a nice addition to the dysfunctional family. The drug pushing baddy was suitably amoral and ruthless, although I almost felt sorry for him by the end.

I was interested in the plot strand involving the Breed detective, Chase, and his widowed sister-in-law, Elise. It was good to get an idea of how the non-Warrior, ‘normal’ vampires lived in the Darkhaven because it emphasized their similarity to their human Breedmates. We got a better idea of what it would be like to live within this community and the grief that Elise endures for her dead husband and the terror she feels for her missing son are very well done. The drug plot line was interesting and meant that the Warriors had a new enemy to confront, rather than just a simple re-hash of the Rogue build-up that we saw in book one. This created more of a sense of danger, making the enemy a real threat. I liked the addition of Breedmate talents that I do not remember being shown in the first book. Again, this added more depth to the characters and the world, as well as providing some very handy ways to move the plot along.

However, I did have some disappointments. I would have liked to have seen much more of Gabrielle and Lucan. I wanted to know how their relationship was progressing, especially as I could imagine Lucan would be somewhat difficult to house train! Unfortunately, they are barely mentioned and they are now happily married, just like Gideon and Savannah, which is a little boring. I was also disappointed that the story was so tightly focused on the Tess / Dante love story and was opened out to show more of the Warriors in action. There was a feeling that they were simply sitting in the bunker knitting socks or something when they were not included in the action.

Overall I did enjoy this second excursion into the Midnight Breed universe. As the reviewer at Love Vampires says, it is a face-paced romp, with a nice balance of action and romance. The Pedantic Phooka remarks that we are left with some open ended plot lines as Chase and Elise still have unfinished business at the end of the book, which is promising. However, I am not sure that I want to keep returning to the series if each story concentrates so much on a single pair of characters. 

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