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Monday, March 1, 2010

Book Review: First Drop of Crimson

TitleFirst Drop of Crimson
Series: Night Huntress World Book 1
Author(s): Jeaniene Frost

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher/Year: Avon/2010
-Webpage: Frost Light
-Blog: Frost Light @ LJ
-Challenges Fulfilled: 2010 Romance Reading Challenge, 1st in Series Challenge,

Synopsis
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.

Review:  As some of you on Good Reads may have seen, when I first began reading First Drop of Crimson I was very, very confused.  Stuff happened off screen--such as meetings, deaths, parties, sexual tension--that felt like it had already been explored in depth.  Silly me, you would think the series title would have clued me in that this is a companion series to Frost's urban fantasy 'Night Huntress' novels, but well I never won points for putting two and two together.  I tried reading the Cat Chronicles, but I just could not get into the character at all.  So much like Kelley Armstrong's "Women of the Otherworld" series, I like the spin-off but not the main series.

At first I was a little bit unsure about Denise and Spade.  Denise spent so much time vocally and silently proclaiming how much she hated the supernatural world, that the attraction felt for Spade seemed out of character--despite the fact this is about their romance!  Her panic attack when he left her side made me a little wary as well, but Spade made up for the faults of Denise.  Maybe because of his human upbringing (he was a Baron), or because he is just that kind of a guy, but he was more than patient with Denise's foibles.  He cared when she would tense up, was careful to explain things to her and took notice when she became too uncomfortable.

His reassuring patience is what won me over for their cause.  He didn't push from her a response that would horrify and break her and intentionally or otherwise he surrounded her (as much as possible at least) with supernaturals that were more welcoming.  Denise wavered between being likable being annoying.  She spent a lot of time being rude or uncooperative with Spade, even after proving that he had only her best interests at heart.  I like Denise when she was teasing Spade, or being inquisitive or had a snappy comeback.  Some of her frustration and anger is contextually explained, but I can't help but think she must have had a hair-trigger temper to begin with.

So...how's a vampire romance novel without there being a whole lot of the biting euphoria that is so popular?  Still hot!  Spade knew how to tease her, how to tempt her and how to draw a response from her she didn't expect.  It helps that he had an English accent, at least in my particular case.  Which is something else to comment on--Frost does a good job making me 'hear' the accents for the different characters.  Ian and Spade both have different accents and the structure of the sentence suggested as much.  I love that in books.

The demon, Raum, gave me chills, but he was also rather comical at times.  He was...not over the top so much as just too much.  I felt like he read out of the Villain's Book of Dastardly Threats sometimes.  I don't doubt that he would do those things, but subtly is the finer point of being evil in my opinion.  He screams like a little girl though when salt hits his skin, so that was amusing.  The changes in Denise, because of her reluctant association with Raum, were more amusing.  It gives new meaning to the phrase "steam coming out of her ears".

Overall I was pleased and enjoyed the book thoroughly.  I think for fans of the Night Huntress novels proper this will be an nice addition, fleshing out minor characters or characters briefly seen/mentioned, and for anyone who has no working knowledge of the series it works well enough.  Not quite as stand alone as it could be, but enjoyable none the less.

Discussion Questions
Denise and Spades chemistry sparks more than a firecracker on the 4rth of July. Did you like the chemistry between them and did you feel the development of the relationship work?

I did enjoy the development of their relationship, though I felt that Spade carried more of the weight for much of the book.  He truly tried to compromise with her, but she was insistent that it was a very bad idea.  That got annoying.

Have you read the Cat & Bones series? Denise is such a different (wimpier) character than Cat... did that make a difference to you?
Nope!  I tried to read the Cat Chronicles and ended up being annoyed and bored.  As far as characters go, normally Cat would be the one I like better, but in this instance I tolerated Denise far more than Cat.  I think some of that has to do with the fact that I liked Spade better than Bones however.

LIGHTNING ROUND. Identify your top three favorite PNR series.  "There are too many!" is not an answer. Neither is more than three.  Name the top three. Ready.....go!
1) Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin
2) Dragon Kin series by G.A. Akin
3) Edge Series by Ilona Andrews  

Sizzle or Fizzle?  
Spade made this a Sizzle instead of a Fizzle for me.