Friday, March 12, 2010

"Death's Mistress" by Karen Chance

The second book starring dhampir Dorina Basarab shows that this spinoff series (from Chance's Cassie Palmer books) deserves to stand on its own. Dorina is still trying to live her life without dealing with her father, Mircea. Not an easy thing to do - Dory sort of works for her dad as a bounty hunter, bringing in (or killing) vamps who have presented a problem to the Senate. She's still looking for a way to deal with her blinding/blackout rages as well, and may have found the answer in a potent Fae potable, one that has left her with some interesting side effects (ones that also play a big role in her relationship with her father).

Mircea calls Dory with an assignment - bring him the vampire Ray, who is causing the Senate concern. No problem, Dory tells him. Until she's in the middle of the apprehension and who should show up to take away Ray? Louis-Cesare, the vampire she met in "Midnight's Daughter", the one she can't seem to forget (even though she knows she should kill him). Seems Ray has been a busy boy and is wanted by lots of people. Dory is determined to keep him (well, his pieces - poor Ray spends much of the book as a head severed head from its body, quite funny).

In the midst of this mess, Dory arrives home to find an unexpected visitor, her roommate, Claire. Having married a Fae prince and produced an heir, Claire is now trying to track down a magic rune of protection, Naudiz, that will keep her child safe (lots of unrest in the Fae world, lots of assassins). Dory learns that Louis-Cesare has a stake in all this as well; his former mistress, Christine, has been traded by Anthony to Elyas, both vampires, and both possibly possessing the rune. Dory will have to work with Louis-Cesare to find Christine and the rune, all while trying to fight her attraction to him.

There's a lot of action in this installment, at times perhaps a bit too much. I really enjoyed the "down-time" scenes with Dory and her roomie, the kids (Claire's son and Dory's baby duergar-brownie mix, Stinky), Ray (good comic relief), even her uncle Radu (very flamboyant for a vamp). I did appreciate the author developing Dory's character a bit more. She learns in this book that not all vamps are evil, something that doesn't sit well with her at first. I'm curious to see where her relationship with Mircea goes in the next installment (as well as Louis-Cesare!). Chance is definitely one of the better authors writing urban fantasy; if you enjoy this genre, check out this series (and the Cassie Palmer books, too).

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