Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > First Drop of Crimson

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost
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's review
Mar 07, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: paranormal, romance, vampires, shape-shifters, 2010
Read in February, 2010 — I own a copy

This review contains spoilers for the Night Huntress series.

You need to be familiar with Jeaniene Frost's popular Night Huntress series - the one starring Cat, the half-vampire vampire hunter, and her "other half", Bones, the vampire bounty hunter - before digging into the Night Huntress World spin-off series. The Night Huntress series is easily one of my favourite paranormal romance/urban fantasy series, but I didn't have particularly high expectations of First Drop of Crimson, the first spin-off novel in a new series that focuses on the other characters from Cat and Bones' world.

The first "minor" characters to get starring roles are Spade, Bones' best friend and fellow Master vampire, and Denise, Cat's human friend who lost her husband in one of the Night Huntress books. It's been a year since Randy died in the zombie attack, and Denise wants nothing to do with the supernatural world. She's even lost contact with Cat, though she knows her friend is in New Zealand somewhere. When her family members start dying, she doesn't see anything strange about the manner of their deaths - heart attacks, in people so young and healthy - but mostly because she doesn't want to. Her cousin Paul tries to convince her something's wrong, and that he feels watched, but by then it's too late: Denise watches a man who is not vampire, not anything she's familiar with, induce a heart attack in her young cousin, and then turn into a dog and disappear.

There's no denying that the supernatural has forced its way into Denise's life again, and this time, she desperately needs help before anyone else in her family is killed. In the end, the only person she can turn to is Spade. Before he can arrive at her home though, the man turns up first. And he's no man: he's a demon called Raum, and he stinks of sulphur. He makes a deal with Denise: find her ancestor, Nathaniel, who made a deal with Raum to get powers and then double-crossed him, and hand him over. In exchange, Raum will let her family live and lift his touch from Denise herself.

Spade and Denise will have to immerse themselves in the vampire world to find him, before time runs out and Denise becomes a demon herself, corrupted by Raum's touch. But as they delve into the seedy, dangerous world of a vampire drug lord, the stakes become even higher, the repercussions more dire. For Denise can no longer let Spade risk his life for her, her family, her ancestor; cannot let him fight Raum. Her growing love for Spade, and his for her, will lead her to make the ultimate sacrifice.

This was a lot of fun, there's no denying it. Frost is very good at constructing a tight, deceptively simple plot and going hell-for-leather right to the end, leaving you a tad breathless. However, as much as I enjoyed it and as much as I came to love Spade and Denise, it was still somewhat lacking. The romance side of the plot was a bit forced, a bit by-the-numbers, a bit squished-in. It didn't feel terribly organic, just rushed. The problem mostly lies in the two main characters not spending enough time together, or rather, when they are together, the narrative glosses over it. I would have liked some slower, character-building, relationship-building scenes here and there. More than I got, anyway.

Denise was an archetypal character in paranormal romances, one I see all the time. The young woman (with great smell/perfume) who's both stubborn and vulnerable, who makes those I-stand-alone decisions that always make her look stupid (often, anyway), and allow the hero to swoop in and save her - literally, usually. She wasn't terribly original, is what I'm trying to say. She was different from how I remember her from the early Night Huntress books, but then she was happier then too, she didn't know about vampires and zombies and hadn't lost her husband, whom she didn't even have. It's bound to make you more serious and anxious and depressed. Change is good in character development. Here, Denise mostly gains confidence as well as demon powers. She does not get her sense of fun back. It was sad.

We get a bit of backstory about Spade, but he wasn't as fleshed-out as I would have liked - the downside of having a rip-roaring plot and cramming a relationship into one book. Cat and Bones had the benefit of a longer relationship story-arc that carried over several books; poor Spade got the short stick. He was never a character I took much notice of in the other books, to be honest, but I came to like him a lot. He was sympathetic, heroic, endearing, rose to the occasion nicely, was just as resourceful and intelligent as Bones, and basically ticked off all the right qualities in the supernatural heroes' checklist. Fun, but again, not very original.

I know I sound like I'm complaining, but I did enjoy the book and I do recommend it - though I also recommend you read the previous books first, because this follows on from them and you need the background to understand it all.
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04/07 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Shannon (Giraffe Days) That's good to hear :) I guess when you've read the other books your head is full of the bigger story and you can't imagine not knowing it!

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm with you- I can barely remember Spade out of the original series. And Denise just seemed like the eternal victim. I never thought the premise for this story had anything original to offer. Great review!

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