Having read and loved Croft’s previous books, Break-Out and Deadly Pursuit in the Blood Hunters series, I was really excited when Carolyn asked me to read and review Bittersweet Blood. True, it is more Urban Fantasy than Sci-Fi Romance compared to the other series, but this book still showcases a great knack for world building and engaging characters. I zipped through this book at great speed, dying to find out where the story will go.
The book is centred on Tara Collins and her need to find out about her past. Having just lost her aunt, she is now free to live her life as she wants to. When her aunt was still alive, there were a number of rules that she had to follow. The only real explanation given was that they were there to keep her safe. These included:-
- Never question the past
- Never leave the cottage she grew up in
- Never drink alcohol
- Never remove the Talisman
The first two rules, while pretty restrictive, didn’t seem that out of place. True, as is hinted at the beginning of the investigation, it could suggest that Tara had been kidnapped by this woman claiming to be her aunt. Her aunt would want to keep her out of sight, but then I remembered that Tara had picked Christian Roth, a P.I., because of her cat, Smokey, pointing to the advertisement in the paper. So for me there was more to this than meets the eye.
The mystery of Tara’s family heritage is the driving force of the whole book. While this is a risky move to make, especially in this genre, Croft pulls it off with ease. She expertly takes you down one route, giving little hints along the way to who and what Tara’s parents actually are.
By halfway through the book I had guessed Tara’s heritage correctly, but this was not the end of the story. Much more was at stake than whether Tara would survive the two warring factions’ claim over her. Her very existence put The Accords (sort of like a book of laws governing each side) at risk of crumbling. As you can see, I am trying my very best not to spoil what Tara’s parents were. What I can say is that an agreement is made in order to prevent all-out war erupting on earth, but the price, though small considering what is at stake, is a heavy one personally for Tara.
Right now I can hear you all asking how Christian fits into this. This review has been talking mostly about Tara. Well, Christian is as the synopsis says, a vampire, but more importantly he was the leader of a group of vampires charged with keeping The Accords in place. That was until thirty years ago, when he retired and decided to try to live as normal a life as possible. This had been achieved, until both Tara hiring him to look into her background and his enemy’s minions suddenly making a reappearance. Take what you will of these two events being related, you should really pick up the book to find out more.
Since this is a PNR, this review should look at the relationship and growing attraction between Tara and Christian. What starts off as a purely professional one does develop into something more. For Christian especially, the pull to Tara is almost instantaneous. He can’t understand why, having been single since the death of his human family hundreds of years ago. Yet, for some reason Tara awakens something in him that has long been dormant. What also attracts Christen to Tara is the fact that he can’t glamour her to do what he wants. This is new for him, as there was a smidgen of doubt that every woman up ’til then was only attracted to Christian due to the fact he had fed from them so often.
Christian’s assistant, Graham, is a prime example of how this infatuation can grow. Graham has been Christian’s human blood donor for some time and readily admits to feeling sexually attracted to the ruggedly handsome vampire. This connection also meant that should Christian die, Graham would too.
We are taken down this age-old path that is often tread in this genre, but as more is discovered on Tara’s bloodline, doubts begin to creep in on whether Christian genuinely has feelings for Tara, or if it is indeed that red stuff flowing through her veins. This is put to the test near the ending, but being a PNR I’m sure you can guess how it plays out.
While this book rounds off Tara and Christian’s story very well, there are plenty of supporting characters to more than continue with this series. The forerunner in whose story I would love to read next is Piers, Christian’s replacement as leader of the order and also his friend.
Piers is that cocky devil-may-care character, who you just know has a heart of gold under that tough, hard exterior. He has a cheeky attitude and has some of the best one liners in the book. Piers provides much needed comic relief in the story. His friendship with Christian was clear to see and though he knows he must abide by The Accords, he still likes to take advantage of the loopholes.
The other character I really want to read more about is Christian’s enemy, Asmodi. I hear you all gasping at that statement. Why would I want to read more about Christian’s “enemy”? Well, without spoiling things too much all I can say is that by the end of the book, his true role is very much a grey area and though his methods are more than questionable, Asmodi’s reasons for his part in the conflict are justified. At least they were for me.
How things pan out from the climatic chapters is yet to be seen. Thankfully there is more to come with the sequel Bittersweet Magic, undergoing edits as we speak (Confirmed by the author herself).
For an author who has yet to be as well known or instantly recognisable as authors such as JR Ward or Sherilyn Kenyon, Croft’s books are those rare hidden gems. I can’t recommend her books enough. She has a gift for creating characters that you end up heavily invested in, even the supposed villains of the piece. The blend of part-mystery, part-urban fantasy and part-paranormal romance means you are kept on your toes. It is a rollercoaster of a ride and by the end of the book you are ready for round two. So go on, give the book a go!
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Bittersweet Blood
- Bittersweet Magic
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