Donna Reads: Written in Red (The Others, #1) by Anne Bishop

3.5 of 5 Goodreads stars. This was a hard book for me to get into. In this series humans are not important and initially there is a lot of world-building (and not much else) going on. In this story, the world is run by Others, and the humans are actually a source of food.

Meg Corbyn is human, but she’s also a blood prophet or a cassandra sangue. Meg’s kind are kept captive by controllers, and they are raised in an environment where they only learn by watching training videos or images. They are not allowed contact with the outside world. Their skin is very valuable, and customers pay to use their prophesizing abilities. When a cassandra sangue is cut, they see visions or prophesies.

The Others in the story are shifters (wolves, bears, hawks, owls, crows, coyotes, etc.), vampires and other dangerous beings. These beings are highly intelligent and although they can look and act civilized, they are not human and do not understand human behavior. The larger settlements are run by the Others. Simon Wolfgard is a wolf shifter and the leader of the Lakeside District. He owns and runs a bookstore among other things.

There is also a human police presence, determined to keep relations between humans and the Others cordial. The police in the story are for the most part good guys although there is corruption within the human government, too. There is history between the species, and when the humans overstep, the Others are swift to mete out justice. Entire populations and cities are wiped out in a flash. There are many areas where human law does not apply, and humans are not allowed to go.

In our story, Meg has managed to escape from her controller, and she is on the run. She ends up in the Lakeside District where she sees a job posting in the window of the bookstore for a Human Liaison. The Liaison receives and sorts the mail, taking deliveries from humans and making sure packages are delivered to Others. Against his better judgment, Simon hires her. He senses that Meg is different somehow and “not prey”.

I had many starts and stops with this book. I wanted to like it, but I kept putting it aside. It starts slowly. I wanted more of a romance, and there is only a slight warming between Meg and Simon. He doesn’t trust her at the beginning, and he is wise not to trust most humans. Meg is childlike and innocent, though, and she gradually wins over all the Others she comes into contact with. No one seems to hate Meg, and they all want to protect her once they get to know her. That seemed a little unrealistic.

I found the animal shifters for the most part charming and sometimes amusing. For such dangerous beings, should they have been more awe-inspiring or frightening? They weren’t. I especially liked the ponies and the crows. I also liked the Sanguinati (the vampires).

I stayed up late to finish the book because all the action takes place at the end. The bad guys were easily overcome, and each of the Others has a hand in defeating them/saving Meg. I have started the second book in the series, and I do recommend this one. Just don’t let the slow start put you off.

Donna Reads: Angels’ Blood (a Guild Hunter Novel) by Nailini Singh

85E2F65A-EDE9-4765-B3BF-031C1E2E30F7I love Nailini Singh’s writing; I’m just not sure I love this series. I waited a long time to start it. I really enjoyed her rockstar series, but that had dark edges to it. In this guild hunter series, the dark edges are front and center.

Elena Devereaux is a guild hunter. She hunts rogue vampires for the angels. The angels are the ones who make vampires. Once made they owe years of service to their creator. When they run away, Elena tracks them down.

Angels also rule the world. They rule humans and vampires. The angels in this book are also phenomenally cruel and swift to punish. Vampires are their servants or underlings. Humans almost seem to be a joke or an afterthought.

Elena is human. She is also hunter born. Raphael is an archangel, thousands of years old. He’s also part of the cadre, a ruling body of ten immensely powerful and cruel archangels. Although Elena can scent and hunt vampires, he hires her to track and catch an archangel, one of the cadre, who has gone bloodborn.

What I disliked about this story is that it seems to start in the middle. There is no backstory and no explanation. Apparently Elena’s mother and two older sisters were murdered by a vicious killer (a vampire?) when she was a child and she was abused and forced to taste their blood. However, that graphic horror is only alluded to in her nightmares and flashbacks. The entire backstory is never told. She won’t discuss it or think about it.

Her friends, the other hunters, were also a mystery to me. There was no explanation. The guild director, her best friend, Sarah is married and every scene with her and her husband Deacon and their baby Zoe seemed to hint at an HEA that I missed in some previous book. I kept looking to see where that story began. There seemed to be a lot more to her friend, Ransom, too, than was explained.

Elena’s first meetings with Raphael were confusing, too. He was ancient and immensely powerful. He was supposed to be immortal and full of power. Yet she gets all pissy and scared when he reads her mind so she shoots him with a special hunter gun that shreds his wings. And he almost dies. Seriously? I hated that. Why did she do it? She supposedly made him a little bit mortal. That made no sense. It made him seem weak.

Meanwhile the vampires and angels that make up his personal guard, the Seven, are also extremely powerful. For most of the beginning of the book, I found Dmitri, the thousand year old vampire more interesting and stronger. He was stronger than Rafael in many ways or maybe he just showed his power more. Elena slit Dmitri’s throat at one point and he laughed.

This was an odd read. I stuck with it because I wanted to see where Nailini would go with it. I have yet to read a story about angels that I actually like or enjoy.

At the end of this one, Elena and Raphael are dying, but true love allows him to make her immortal, and the series continues. I hope future books don’t continue to make him more human and weaker in the process. I like an alpha male hero, and he showed promise. Strong heroines are nice, but Elena is over the top and shades towards mean. She needs to be toned down or explained better.

Donna Reads: Tempted (Dark Protectors series #2.5) by Rebecca Zanetti

Max Petrovsky is a soldier and two hundred year old vampire. Max is employed by the Kayrs family, vampires who rule the Realm. Max’s main duties include guarding Janie Paulsen, a gifted, psychic little girl prophesized to be the future of several of the immortal races. Max has always been rough and tough, but in caring for Janie he has discovered his softer side.

Sarah Pringle is a school teacher on the run from her own half-brother and the evil Kurjans. Her brother has had Sarah committed to a mental institution and is trying to take control of the family’s pharmaceutical business. Sarah has escaped and is hiding in a hotel when she spots Max outside her room. Sarah tries to make a run for it, but Max catches her, and then they are attacked by Kurjans.

I almost enjoyed this novella more than I have the full length novels in the series. It packed more of a punch, and it got to the point quicker. Maybe I just preferred the lead characters. Sarah has had a rough time, and she’s no fighter, but she’s tough and I really liked her spunk. Max has been in the two previous novels, and he’s adorable with Janie. I especially like how he plays Old Maid with the little girl and lets her paint his fingernails when he loses! He makes a good hero in this novella, too.

Donna Reads: Claimed (Dark Protectors #2) by Rebecca Zanetti

Emma Paulsen is a scientist, a geneticist. She’s also psychic and has had visions of a powerful king for most of her life. Emma has always been fierce, brave, and extremely protective of her empathic younger sister, Cara. Raised by an abusive father who thought his daughter’s gifts were signs of evil, Emma always put herself in the path of their father’s anger to protect Cara. Now Cara has married, and she’s in a different kind of danger. When Emma is kidnapped by the evil Kurjans, she doesn’t expect the king from her visions to save her.

Dage Kayrs is the King of the Realm, a powerful vampire. He has dreamt of Emma for two hundred years. He knows as soon as he sees her that Emma is his mate. Emma is not interested in being tied to any man. She’s always taken care of herself. Although she quickly realizes she has feelings for Dage, when she finds herself marked and mated to him, she is angry at first. Cara has been infected with a powerful virus created by the Kurjans to break the mating bond. The virus however has killed most of those it has been tested on. Emma must find a cure for Cara before it’s too late. Her own life may be in danger.

I liked this second book in the series. Some of the scientific parts of the story dragged for me. I’m already tired of this whole virus thing, and I know it’s going to go on through the rest of the series. I wish it didn’t. I also got a little annoyed with Emma when she refused to trust Dage. There were things she withheld and stupid things she tried to do on her own instead of asking for help. Her mate was described as the most powerful being in the world, and she was trying to fix everything herself. That was silly. I liked Dage a lot, but I thought he was too easy on Emma when he should’ve been tougher with her.