Tuesday, March 6, 2007

"The Becoming" by Jeanne C. Stein

Thank you, thank you, thank you Ms. Stein! After reading the tepid Cameron Dean book, I was hesitant to start yet another paranormal sort of book. Was thinking that maybe it was just time to hang this genre out to dry, get back to some basic mystery writing or something similar. Luckily, this happened to show up at my branch, and seeing as how it's been on my Amazon recommended list (as well as my sissy's Wishlist), I thought I'd give it a try. And much to my amazement, I was not disappointed, not in the least! Perhaps because this title is being marketed as fantasy? I have no idea, but it works.

Anna Strong is a bounty hunter. While pursuing a skip, she and her partner, David (an ex-football pro), are attacked by the seemingly wimpy criminal. David suffers nothing more than a bad bump on the head. Anna isn't so lucky; she has been sexually assaulted, as well as something much more serious. She was bitten by the felon and also ingested some of his blood, thus turning her into a vampire. This is all explained by Dr. Grant Avery, who treats her at the hospital, and he should know; he is, after all, a Night Watcher - also known as a vampire. He takes it upon himself to initiate Anna into her new world.

And it's not a bad world. Anna finds that she is stronger now, something that will come in handy for her job. She can communicate telepathically. She doesn't need to avoid sunlight after all - that's something that vampire physiology has adapted to over the years. But there's that pesky problem of drinking blood, something she finds repulsive. Avery assures her that it can be quite enjoyable as it is usually taken during sex, a fact that she herself realizes after she starts turning and gains back her memory of the attack. Avery also assures her that this does not mean she needs to feed off different partners; she can feed off her boyfriend, DEA agent Max, and remain monogamous. And, of course, she has to kill the skip that turned her.

The rest of the book follows Anna as she tries to navigate her way through her new vamp world. She's such a newbie that she always feels one step behind. Further complicating things are her growing feelings for Avery, despite her love for Max. It's a great ride watching her come into her abilities and figure out who's on what team - who's really good and who's really bad? Are vampires evil as she's always been told by the media and folklore? Or are they really good, watching over the villagers back in the Dark Ages as Avery explains to her?

As I said in the opening paragraph, this is a great read, one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to readers of this sort of book. I was a bit worried at first, since we have a bounty hunter (shades of several other writers), a new vampire, a new vampire mythos, and of course, the whole blood/sex thing. I was very, very afraid of that when it was mentioned - too many bad memories of Anita Blake jumping the shark in Incubus Dreams. Bookbabe was very happy to see Anna not want to go down that road! Again, a good strong female protagonist, good character development, good twists, good plot, etc, and I can highly recommend this title. Even better is the news that Ms. Stein is working on the next installment!

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