Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Blood Drive" by Jeanne C. Stein

First off, apologies to all for taking so long to post my reviews! I've been a bit busy here at work, plus I actually went through a slow reading period where, believe it or not, I just did not feel like reading. Hey, it happens! Thankfully, it didn't last long, and now that things are calmer at work, I'll be posting more often (I hope!). Special thanks to little sis who told me to get back to this blog ASAP!

Jeanne C. Stein made her mark on the paranormal fantasy scene with "The Becoming", a great book that introduced us to Anna Strong, bounty hunter and newly turned vampire. "Blood Drive" is the second of the Anna Strong Chronicles, and is even better than the first book.

It's been two months or so since Anna was attacked by a skip and turned into a vampire. She's still trying to adjust to her new lifestyle, and even having some degree of success. However, that's all turned upside down during a dinner with her parents. Enter Carolyn Delaney, an old girlfriend of Anna's deceased brother. Carolyn has a daughter, Trish, who has disappeared and could be in some very serious trouble. Carolyn has come to Anna, rather than go to the police, because she's afraid that her daughter might have had something to do with another girl's death; she doesn't want Trish to be arrested. Oh, and Trish is also Anna's niece. Cue the pull on the heartstrings, at least for Anna's parents, who desperately want to believe Carolyn's claims of kinship. Steve, Anna's brother, was killed in a drunk-driving accident at the tender age of 17. Carolyn never got the chance to tell him that she was pregnant, and since her own parents did not react well to the news, she didn't feel like she could go to his parents, either.

However, Anna senses that something isn't quite right with Carolyn or her story. After having her bounty-hunter business partner David do some digging, it becomes quite obvious that Anna's concerns are valid. Carolyn has done quite a bit of lying, both about her daughter and herself, but most of all, about the reason that Trish is missing. I don't want to give anything away, since that's the worst thing a person can do, ruin the surprises of a book! Let's just say that Trish has been subjected to some very nasty things and ran for good reason, shall we?

Enter Daniel Frey, a teacher at Trish's school, one that has an air of mystery about him. He's also a prime suspect in the girl's disappearance, that is, until Anna investigates. Turns out that Frey is mysterious - he's a shape shifter. He shifts into a jungle cat, but one that turns out to be more pussycat than lethal predator. Obviously, it's the sort of secret that can't get out, therefore the mysteriousness. He turns out to be a strong ally, one that I have a feeling we'll see again (hopefully in the next installment).

The Anna Strong Chronicles are a welcome relief to the glut of paranormal romances on the market today. Fast-paced, smart writing combined with good plot and character development. If you're tired of the vamps ripping open bodices, I'd give these a shot.

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