Writing in first-person effectively is, I suspect, something of an art and Jennifer Armintrout has mastered it in The Turning, the first book in the Blood Ties series.

The Turning: Blood Ties Book One by Jennifer ArmintroutI’ve not read any of Ms. Armintrout’s books before, but this one came recommended from a friend. I have to say, I was impressed with the smooth flow of her heroine’s stream of consciousness. If any book could be a gliding read, this one was. I slipped from chapter to chapter with out even realizing I’d done so.

The Turning tells the story of Dr. Carrie Ames conversion to a vampire. She is a doctor working in an ER when a chance encounter with a horrifically injured vampire results in her “turning.” Confusion over what she’s facing lands her on the doorstep of the sexy vampire Nathan Grant, a vampire hunter working for the “Movement.” The Movement is a vampire organization dedicated to keeping the vampire population streamlined, weeding out the ones who kill and turn others at will.

Nathan and Carrie are an interesting pair. They are attracted to one another, but they both fight it, each for their own reasons. Unfortunately, Nathan’s job complicates matters further as he is required to kill her unless she joins the Movement. Amidst their give and take, Carrie must fight her “blood tie” to her sire, Cyrus, a handsome but cruel vampire given to every imaginable excess, and bitter enemy of Nathan. The “blood tie” is a highly seductive bond, compelling a level of intimacy that is enviable. Unfortunately, with Cyrus, it’s not something really desirable.

Unlike so many characters in books, Ms. Armintrout’s are multi-layered. They are neither wholly good, nor wholly bad. Even the most villainous characters have moments where you are stirred to feel at least the most basic of human compassion. You find yourself pulling for their redemption because you can see their humanity even through their perversion. Because of that dynamic, there are scenes in The Turning that I found both uncomfortable and oddly compelling to read. I honestly wanted these characters to change and be made whole again, their humanity restored. Perhaps, it’s my firm belief in spiritual redemption that made me want that so much. I would certainly love to hear other’s thoughts on the book and see if they felt the same and why.

The Turning is an excellent book, but readers should take care that you may find yourself conflicted over the emotions it stirs in you. And, there are also a few gruesome scenes that are not for the faint of heart. If you stick with it, however, there’s a breathtaking scene later on between Carrie and Nathan that almost moved me to tears. That scene alone is worth reading the whole book – but there’s a catch. You MUST read all that comes before that scene to understand its import for the characters, and for you, the reader.

Have you read The Turning? If so, feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

» Read my review of Possession, Book Two of the Blood Ties series

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Hello, gang!

We've started a poll to find out if anyone would be like to see a forum feature here at VampireRomanceBooks.com. So, be sure and cast your vote!

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Here’s a list of known upcoming vampire romance releases for May 2007.

May 1

Kiss of Midnight (Lara Adrian)
Blood Calls (Caridad Pineiro)
All Together Dead – A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Charlaine Harris)
Bled Dry (Erin McCarthy)
Dead Sexy (Tate Hallaway)
Midnight Brunch (Marta Acosta)
Secrets in the Shadows (Jenna Black)
Wicked Fantasy (Nina Bangs)
No Humans Involved (Kelley Armstrong)

May  29

Kiss of Crimson (Lara Adrian) 

Another mystery is afoot Down Under and Riley Jenson is on the case in Dangerous Games, the fourth entry in the Riley Jenson Guardian series.

Dangerous Games by Keri ArthurIn this installment, Riley is drawn ever deeper into the Guardian world as she takes on an ancient evil and its demon minions even as she moves steadily toward the long-promised showdown with the rogue Guardian Gautier. The half-vampire, half-werewolf Riley remains reluctant about many of the things her job requires of her, but she is duty bound, and as saucy as ever.

The usual suspects return in the supporting cast: Rhoan, her twin and fellow Guardian; Jack, her vampire boss; Kellen, the brown wolf who would like nothing more than to make Riley his mate; and the enigmatic and ancient vampire Quinn O’Connor, who wants Riley for his own but manages to push all her wrong buttons and whom Riley wants despite the fact he drives her crazy.

Dangerous Games is a solid read and very difficult to put down. By now, the familiar cast of characters have become like old friends to the reader, and you can’t help but cheer Riley on in her quest to get the bad guys and to find her soulmate — will it be Kellen or Quinn or an as-yet-unseen fella?

As in the previous books in this series, Dangerous Games is not for the timid or squeamish. It explores some of the darker aspects of sexuality, and with demons involved you can imagine how dark that could get. Thankfully, Ms. Arthur knows when to pull her punches, and she manages to get her point across without going overboard. Still, it might leave some unsettled, so be warned.

I get the sense, reading this series, that Ms. Arthur is definitely taking Riley somewhere. It’s very much a personal journey. With each book, Riley learns new things about herself, some pleasant, some she finds uncomfortable and hard to reconcile, some cut against the grain of who she thought she was. She is a strong, compelling character, who is equal parts cynic and romantic dreamer. She has been put through the paces repeatedly, enduring circumstances that would have obliterated a weak, one-dimensional character. She is truly spirited and resilient, which is a very good thing considering there are some seriously creepy villains in this series who do some seriously nasty things. That said, I am more than a little eager to see where Ms. Arthur takes Riley’s story next. And I, for one, am pulling for Quinn to win her heart in the end. What can I say? I love the guy, even if he can be something of an ass.

Have you read Dangerous Games? If so, please feel free to let us know what you think!

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I love a good mystery. Especially one that keeps me guessing til the end, and Lina Gardiner did just that with Grave Illusions, the first installment in the Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter series.

Grave Illusions by Lina GardinerJess is a strong heroine, a vampire who hunts her own kind. She was a cop before her turning and continues to uphold justice while keeping the darkness in her at bay. She is aided by her devoted brother, a priest who rescued her from the total damnation of the undead, and leads a covert police unit to crack down on those vamps with nothing but blood-drinking, murder and mayhem on their minds.

It’s a lonely existence for her, with only her brother providing her real company. But then she meets the tough ex-cop John Brittain, an upstanding guy paying a penance for a justifiable act that had unintended consequences and which cost him his career and the respect of his colleagues. As Brittain is drawn into her world and her fight, she finds herself experiencing thoughts and emotions she hasn’t felt in ages. And he’s feeling them, too.

Their waltz around each other is sweet amidst the danger and mysteries facing them. Brittain is as determined to have Jess as she is determined to put him off. Their relationship, however, is driven not just on their attraction and affections, but also genuine respect for each other, their abilities and dedication to their mission.

All in all, Grave Illusions is a solid supernatural action-mystery story that has just the right amount of romance — though some may clamor for more — and a mysterious cliffhanger ending that left me eager to read the next installment in the series. Having a latent interest in investigative sciences, I hope she plays up more of the forensics aspects in future volumes, and turns up the heat between the lovely Jess and stalwart Brittain. They produce some interesting sparks that are definitely worth investigating.

Have you read Grave Illusions? If so, feel free to let us know what you think.

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Dear VampireRomanceBooks.com visitors,

I'd like to take a moment to you thank you for visiting and to invite you to participate in our site by leaving your comments on reviews and other posts here at VRB.com. You're welcome to post your own opinions in addendum to our reviews, to notify others of newly released books that we might have missed in our coming soon listings and to post questions or comments on author interviews. We're thrilled that you are here and want this to truly be a community effort, so don't be shy!

If you choose to comment — and we sincerely hope you do! — we encourage you to reveal as little plot information as possible in your reviews so as not to spoil the books for others. At the very least, we ask that you pop in a spoiler alert so that folks get a bit of warning before reading something vital that they may want to find out for themselves as they read.

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P.S. To our immortal happiness, our ultra cool VampireRomanceBooks.com Dashboard widget was accepted by Apple! The widget features VRB.com's RSS feed, allowing Mac users to keep track of our posts from their OS X (Tiger, and soon Leopard) Dashboard.

Grave Illusions by Lina GardinerVRB.com's third book giveaway is for an autographed copy of Lina Gardiner's Grave Illusions. Ms. Gardiner graciously supplied two such copies, so there'll be two winners this time!

Here's a description of the book from Amazon.com:

New York City is in the grasp of a deadly, unseen enemy. At least unseen by normal society. Lieutenant Jess Vandermire, New York City police officer, is uniquely specialized to recognize and fight this threat. It's her job to forge a black ops team, an assortment of men and women who wouldn't be considered for the job under normal circumstances. But these aren't normal circumstances. The team has to be tough and, if need be, expendable. Jess understands what she's fighting and what's at stake. For her, it's all about retribution until ex-cop John Brittain is recruited to her team. Suddenly, her priorities aren't quite so easily definable. John Brittain has a chip on his shoulder and is as tough as they come. But is he ready for the whole truth? That combating "super" vampires whose primal need for blood and the addictive drug "Sunshine" is only the beginning of their problems? And when Jess tells him the truth about herself, will he stay and fight or will he turn against her and not only threaten their lives but destroy the fragile relationship developing between them?

 

To be eligible for the giveaway, simply leave a comment to this post, naming your favorite vampire romance book series. Be sure and tell us the author and, if you'd like, a little about why the series is your favorite! I know we've all got opinions, we urge you to share yours with us and other fellow vampire romance lovers.

Anyone who responds to this post is automatically entered,** but entries are limited to one per person. In other words, you can leave multiple entries but there'll be only one instance of your name in the proverbial hat. The contest will be open for the next 30 days, with the drawing to be held on May 18 and the two lucky readers' announced soon after, here at VRB.com and also notified by e-mail.

Thanks in advance for participating and good luck!

** Past winners must wait 90 days (from their latest giveaway win) to be eligible for another giveaway.

Thank you all for participating in the book giveaway for Nora Roberts' Circle Trilogy!

I put everyone's name in a hat this evening and recruited a dear friend to blindly draw a name from the hat … and the lucky reader is:

Trisha Cruz

Congratulations, Trisha! And again, thank you all for participating. I plan to have another giveaway up very soon, so check back!

Demon Moon (June 2007) was my first foray into The Guardian Series by Meljean Brook (and others), and it was a darned good one.

Demon Moon by Meljean BrookLet me start by saying that I’m not much into demons as romantic, or even heroic, characters, which is most likely due to my upbringing. I realize that some consider vampires demonic in origin, but on the whole, I’d say they’re just great fictional characters around whom great and varied mythologies can be crafted — as evidenced in the current boom of the vampire genre.

That said, let me say this: I really enjoyed Demon Moon. Perhaps that’s because the focal character in this installment was a vampire — and a damned good looking one, too! — while the demons were on the periphery or villainous side of the action. I can certainly say I enjoyed it because it was a well-written, unique story.

At the center of said story is the unnaturally gorgeous vampire Colin Ames-Beaumont. He is as vain as the day is long, and he has reason to be — he’s a veritable Adonis with the famed erotic sensuality of his race! He’s also a tormented soul, his mirror reflection having been replaced with a view into the exceedingly creepy realm of Chaos. The delicious Colin is bitter and, at times, unkind. He has, however, an Achilles heel … the lovely, exotic and insatiably curious Savitri Murray, an in-the-know human woman who wants the vampire despite the fact he’s often a complete ass. They are fantastically drawn characters — I could picture them in my mind so easily — and their passion for each other is palpable in each scene they share. It stews beneath the surface and when it finally reaches boiling point … OH WOW!

Colin and Savi’s angst-ridden dance around each other takes place as supernatural happenings unfold around them, with renegade demons, Nosferatu, vampires, guardians and other creatures in a high-stakes battle of power. Tension is high throughout the book, which makes you root all the more for the lovely pair to find their way to each other. Ms. Brooks does not disappoint.

As I began reading Demon Moon, it became clear it was part of a series, but that I hadn’t read the earlier books didn’t hobble the reading experience. I was able to quickly orient myself to the goings on and extrapolate enough of what had happened in those earlier books to make it a quite enjoyable read.

Have you read Demon Moon? If so, please feel free to post a comment and let us and others know what you think.

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I finished Colleen Gleason’s Rises the Night (June 2007), the second installment in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, last night and all I can say is … OUTSTANDING!

Rises The Night by Colleen Gleason (Gardella Vampire Chronicles)I enjoyed its predecessor, The Rest Falls Away, immensely and was not the least bit disappointed in this follow up. Colleen writes in a classy style, her apparent love of classic literature shining through in so many ways.

Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy, her heroine, is an intelligent spitfire of a woman, a Venator hellbent on destroying the blood-sucking fiends who walk the Earth. In The Rest Falls Away, she was initiated into the Venator ranks and paid a high price for embracing the duty that falls to her. In Rises the Night, Victoria is motivated on a whole new level. The battle is personal now, thoughts of revenge and justice fueling her actions as she is drawn deeper into the battle against the fanged creatures … and now members of their human protector society, The Tutela.

The plot thickens quite nicely in Rises the Night. Fellow Venator Max Pesaro is missing and no one seems to know where he is. Demons and vampires, bitter enemies, are found working together and no one is sure why. More levels of the vampire hierarchy are revealed, a son for Lilith and his rival. And the irresistible rake Sebastian Vioget returns (Thank YOU, Colleen!), his loyalties still as much a mystery as his goal of possessing the lovely Victoria is clear.

Action unfolds across the pages of Rises the Night at a perfect pace, with twists, turns and revelations aplenty, and new intrigues born seemingly with every chapter. Ms. Gleason has outdone herself with this entry, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next in The Bleeding Dusk!

Have you read Rises the Night? If so, please feel free to let us know what you think.

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