by Parker Blue
Sometimes you ask for something...and the author actually grants your wish! After reading Bite Me recently, I noted that the series would be a lot more fun if Val, who is a vampire-slaying part-succubus, actually got a decent boyfriend. I'm happy to say that in the second and third installments in the series, Val breaks up with the honorable but boring Dan and hooks up with someone much more interesting.
And that someone is Shade, a fascinating shadow demon who has transparent skin that shows the powerful energy swirling around inside him. Shade's skin only appears normal when he's grounded by touching someone else, and paired with the ability to absorb and reshape energy, this character pretty spectacular. Val is partnered with Shade to help figure out who's betraying the Demon Underground and to recover the missing Encylopedia Magicka, and later finds that he's very helpful in channeling Lola, her inner lust demon. Unfortunately, just as Val starts getting closer to her boyfriend, she's faced with a difficult choice: is love worth giving up your identity for?
As in the first installment, Val's sidekick demon hellhound Fang is still snarky and hilarious and sweet, and now has a lady companion of his own who wreaks havoc in her own inimitable way. The struggles and power plays between the demons and the vamps has been ratcheted up, with tensions mounting as both sides try to maintain a temporary truce while fighting the unrest and deception within their own factions. Val really comes into her own in these books as a strong female character who's not only a butt-kicking action hero, but who also consistently tries to do the right thing. It's also great to see a hot but mutually respectful relationship; Shade doesn't hesitate to disagree with Val when he thinks she's wrong, but their arguments don't turn nasty and controlling like they do in so many other books.
The author has already announced that she's working on Make Me, the fourth book in this series, which will be out in 2012. Fans of the Chicagoland Vampires or Vampire Academy (and kick-ass heroines in general) will definitely love this series.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
30-second summary: Contains fun action sequences, sarcastic hell-hound humor, and hot demon on demon action. Advance copies of these titles were provided by the publisher for review. Recommended for fans of the Chicagoland Vampires and Vampire Academy series.