First Drop of Crimson By Jeaniene Frost

From barnesandnoble.com:  From the New York Times bestselling author of the Night Huntress series comes a breathtaking new journey to the dark side of desire.  The night is not safe for mortals. Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows—her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield—and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness—and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who lusts for a taste of her.  He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human—even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the nightmare together . . .

Because once the first crimson drop falls, they will both be lost.

My Spoiler-Laden Thoughts on First Drop of Crimson:

The Recap:  This is the first entry in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress World series, which is a spin-off from the Night Huntress Series featuring the always entertaining Cat and Bones.  When we last saw Denise, our heroine, her husband had just been brutally murdered by zombie-like creatures and she had sworn off the supernatural world as a result.  Now Denise is in a whole different kind of trouble when a vengeful demon, Raum, starts picking off her family members in an attempt to find a distant relative who escaped him once upon a time.  Raum allows Denise to live on the condition that she can locate said relative, Nathanial.  Unable to reach her bestie Cat, she settles for asking Spade, Bones’ friend and human hater for help before the demonic essence Raum left behind consumes her.  It looks like this series is going to adopt the PNR formula of boys sees girl, girl sees boy, something gets all tingly, and they are ‘I Would Die 4 U’ in love 3 days later while battling some sort of big beastie.  Not that I am complaining, this formula works, but the rest is pretty predictable so I will skip ahead.

The Drama:  While I liked the plot, the action just really didn’t do it for me.  Once Denise and Spade figure out her blood is like vamp crack because of the demon juice, they travel to Vegas to find a dealer in hopes of getting closer to Nathanial.  The Vegas trip for me was just alright, except for that shower scene…more on that later.   I did enjoy getting to see Spade’s home while the duo fled Raum, and I got really excited when Monaco was the next locale.  I have always wondered why Monaco doesn’t pop up more in PNR, it just seems like such a romantic place.  The climactic battle scenes towards the end were great, but I wouldn’t expect less from Ms. Frost.  I especially enjoyed the form Denise chose to battle Raum with, though I was shocked the big bad demon went down so quickly. 

The Smut:  My absolute fav scene of the book was the Spade shower scene.  HOTNESS.  And when he later admitted that the shower was cold to avoid the steam, I thought that was too cute.  On the other hand, Denise’s demon-y hands were a huge turnoff and I hated how they kept popping up at the worst times.  And all the eating! Its like “we get it, you’re becoming a demon and you’re hungry…get to the banging!!”  The sex scenes were good, and there was a fair amount of sexual tension built up throughout.  The issue I have is that Spade and Denise’s personalities just didn’t shine they way they did in the Night Huntress series.  I understand that Denise has had a really tough time lately, but I felt like all the angst took away from the romance.

The Rant:  I have mixed feelings about spin-offs that rely heavily on knowledge of the original series.  I think the series is a great idea, and a great way to showcase all the supporting characters that Cat and Bones overshadowed.  But at the same time, I could barely remember details like what Menecheres’ powers were and how Cat acquired Fabian.  That being said, I am so excited for Ian to get his own book!  I always loved Ian and all of his Prince Albert-assholey glory.  Yummmm…

Should I buy-with-1-click?  If you were a fan of the Night Huntress series, you will enjoy this book.  If I had to choose, I would go with Cat and Bones any day, but this is a nice filler until we see them again in July ’10.  Rating: 8

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Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8) By Kim Harrison

From barnesandnoble.com:  In New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison’s most complex and nuanced adventure yet, bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan fights a deadly battle—mind, body, and soul.  Rachel Morgan has fought and hunted vampires, werewolves, banshees, demons, and other supernatural dangers as both witch and bounty hunter—and lived to tell the tale. But she’s never faced off against her own kind . . . until now. Denounced and shunned for dealing with demons and black magic, her best hope is life imprisonment—at worst, a forced lobotomy and genetic slavery. Only her enemies are strong enough to help her win her freedom, but trust comes hard when it hinges on the unscrupulous tycoon Trent Kalamack, the demon Algaliarept, and an ex-boyfriend turned thief.

It takes a witch to catch a witch, but survival bears a heavy price.

My Spoiler-Laden Thoughts on Black Magic Sanction

The Recap:  Tink’s Dildos I couldn’t put this book down! What a wild ride! Our girl Rache has come so far!  At this point we are 8 books in to Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series and our favorite itchy witch is really in a mess this time around.  Unlike so many other series where the lead characters run around destroying cities and lives with zero consequences, every one of Rachel’s actions are now biting her in the ass.  She is now publicly shunned for dealing with demons, hunted by the “White” witches in the Coven for being a potential quasi-demon baby making machine, and hanging out in the Ever-After every Saturday with Big Al, all while dealing with her usual dysfunctional relationships and newly found daddy issues.  Rachel Morgan is a busy girl.

The Drama:  Where to begin!?  Most of the action in Black Magic Sanction revolves around the Coven summoning Rachel, Rachel escaping, the Coven attacking the church, lather, rinse, repeat.  After thousands of pages spent hanging out in Rachel and Ivy’s church, I felt almost violated when it went under attack!  The scene with the fairy attack was especially infuriating and I spent the evening alternating between being super pissed and sobbing uncontrollably over the death of a very special character.   I really enjoyed Rachel struggling with what to do with the surviving fairies, as I really couldn’t say what I would have done.  I love Jenks so much its retarded, and I wanted serious revenge for him, but at the same time, Rachel slaughtering 7 inch tall fairies might have made for awkward reading.  We also learn a lot more about Rachel’s family and the strange dynamic going on with her sorta crazy mom, rock star dad, and sorta douchey brother.  Honestly, I didn’t care for these scenes, I just wanted her brother to stop talking and give her the damn spell book!  Several supporting characters show back up, like Lee who I thought was terrifying in earlier, but is now super chill and laid back?! Whatevs.  And of course, D-bag Nic-k is back for the action, but thankfully Rache has FINALLY realized his douchbaggery knows no limits.

The Smut:  Oh Pierce. Piercey, Pierce, Pierce.  Me no likely the stalker ghost.  At one point, I was ready to skip over Pierce’s dialogue all together just to avoid any more “opines.”   I really tried to get behind the Rachel-Pierce thing, but I just don’t feel the spark.  And then we finally get to the good stuff, and Rachel feels the need to explain to us that male witches are less endowed than humans!! HUH?  I understand that this is technically an UF series and therefore we aren’t treated to as much smutty goodness, but still!  Was that really necessary?  And in a hole in the ground?? Anyway, I am enjoying Big Al sorta kinda tossing his name into the hat of potential suitors.  I am really excited to see how Ms. Harrison pulls off the softer side of a murderous demon with an affinity for velvet and lace.  And then there is always hottie Trent, who I can’t for the life of me explain why I have such a crush on.  But I do, and I really hope they end up together for some reason.  But I also kinda hope Jenks will decide to go back to full-sized hotness and hook up with someone.  Rachel, Ivy, I don’t really care, I just want to see the pixy in action!  Speaking of Ivy, it looks like she is finally moving past her feelings for Rachel, and I am really hoping for some Ivy-Glenn smuttiness in the next installment!

The Rant:  While I thought the Coven, especially Brooke and Vivian, were truly horrifying, I didn’t really understand their motives.  Brooke wanted to lobotomize Rachel, treated her like a freak of nature, all the while plotting for a demon baby all her own?  Not only does that seriously break the girl code, it doesn’t even make sense!  If he wants a mini-Rachel, then Rachel can’t be all that bad!  I really hope Brooke stays in the Ever-after, I don’t want her to turn into another Lee, where we just shrug off all the evil-bitchiness and keep going. 

Related rant:  Apparently publishing companies don’t get it.  If you own an e-reader of any kind, chances are you are pretty savvy about all things books and are probably a pretty hard-core reader.  So shame on HarperCollins for delaying the e-version of Black Magic Sanction.  They must really not care about pissing off hard-core fans.   I just so happened to read all the Hollows books over the past few weeks, so when I saw I had to wait a month longer than everyone else for book 8, I was not happy.  Most kindlers like the convenience, and I especially find it really irritating to tote around a hardback after enjoying my little light weight gadget for so long.  How can I hold my glass of wine if both my hands are keeping a hardback book open?!  Alas, I decided I didn’t want to wait.  So I may or may not have bought the hard back at B&N, read it that night, and returned it the next day.  Take that HarperCollins!!

Should I buy-with-1-click?  Oh yes.  I mean, Jenks is in it, what more do you need?  But no really, if you are a fan of the Hollows (and you have read the previous 7 books), you will not be disappointed.  This book has it all: action, emotion, humor, romance, and pixies.  You may want to shake Rachel for some of her decisions, but that’s what makes her so lovable, right? 

Rating: Definitely 10.  OBSESSED…like I am a 12 year-old girl and Jenks is my Edward Cullen.

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