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When Blood Craves by J.K. Beck

November 11, 2010

Publisher: Bantam

The Shadowkeepers #1

Publication Date: August 31, 2010

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Status: First in the Shadowkeepers Trilogy, followed by When Pleasure Rules and When Wicked Craves.

Source: Purchased by self

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Other Info: J.K. Beck also publishes under the name Julie Kenner. I’ve read Tainted, the first book in the Blood Lily Chronicles.

Description: (From Amazon):

Attorney Sara Constantine is thrilled with her promotion—until she finds out that she must now prosecute vampires and werewolves. The first defendant she’ll be trying to put away? Lucius Dragos, the sexy stranger with whom she recently shared an explosive night of ecstasy.

When Lucius kisses a beautiful woman sitting next to him at the bar, he’s hoping only to avoid the perceptive gaze of the man he’s planning to kill. But what starts as a simple kiss ignites into an all-consuming passion. Charged with murder, Luke knows that Sara is determined to see him locked away—unless he can convince her that he’s not a monster. And that might mean making the ultimate sacrifice.

I’m not usually a fan of the “my one-night stand turned out to be my worst enemy” plot. Seems like too much coincidence. But I suppose that if I’m reading a vampire novel, I should be able to suspend my disbelief that much further, huh? At any rate, I’m glad I let the blurb from Kresley Cole finally sway me into reading When Blood Calls. Well, it was the rec from Kresley Cole combined with the fact that I want to read the other two books in the series. I’m not usually such a stickler. As I’m sure you’ve noticed. But I’m trying to be. I feel like it’s only right if I’m going to review a book that I read it the way the author intended. I.e., in order. So. With my virtuous crown upon my head, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

When Blood Calls takes place in Los Angeles. But it takes place in a Shadow world, a paranormal world beneath the world that everyone else kn0ws. The heroine, Sara Constantine (love the last name, btw), is a prosecutor who, due to her own childhood experience, is dedicated to putting murderers behind bars. She’s also a stickler for justice as defined by the legal system. She is adamantly opposed to vigilantism. Which, of course, makes her the perfect foil for Lucius Dragos, the hero. Lucius (mostly referred to as Luke) is a vampire who was made in the Roman Age. Luke’s job is also to mete out justice. But he’s executioner and doesn’t bother with the judge and jury part. Luke and Sara meet prior to the beginning of the novel. When we are introduced to each character, they’ve already met and had sex. When they meet for the second time, it’s because Luke has been arrested for a judge’s murder and Sara, as a brilliant prosecutor, has been promoted and brought into “Division” in order to try his case.

Sara’s own father was murdered before her very eyes. It’s a memory that haunts Sara–and makes it all the worse for her when she learns that Luke is also a murderer. Despite what passed between them, though, Sara is determined to see that he is found guilty of murder. Since the all the evidence points that way. Unfortunately, resisting Luke isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. And the murder of the judge isn’t as cut and dry as it seems.

Sara is our eyes and ears into the strange underworld she’s introduced to. The story wouldn’t work if Sara didn’t adapt fast, and the nature of her new job requires that she do so. In the course of a day, Sara learns that the man she had a one night stand with is a vampire and a murderer, that the man who killed her father was a vampire, too, and that the paranormal world has its own judicial system, apart from the mundane one she just left behind. Sara has to get used to things like precognition and ghosts and mind-reading and compulsion. It’s lucky, however, that Sara is resistant to the latter. Though Sara’s acceptance of the Shadow world worked okay with me while I was reading the book, now that I’m finished, I wonder about the speed with which she adapted.

Still, I liked this book. Sara and Luke are a paired of tortured characters. Luke more than Sara. When a vampire in the Shadowkeepers world is made, the demon that lives inside of him–of all of us–is released. Until a “holding” is performed, the demon is in charge. And while Luke’s demon was in charge, he committed an awful crime. Now that his demon is leashed–though still close to the surface–his life has become all about making sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. The lengths he’ll go to to make sure it doesn’t are at the crux of the plot. They drive both the plot and Luke and Sara’s relationship. At times, I wanted to give Luke a swift kick in the pants. Not because he has a cute butt, but because he can’t see that sometimes, the right thing to do isn’t what you want it to be. Or think it is.

Speaking of Sara and Luke’s relationship, it will come as no surprise to you, I’m sure, that they are not able to hold out on the attraction that runs between them, even though they are on opposing sides. Sara swears that she can remain impartial, but Luke’s involvement in the murder of the judge is much more complicated than she knows. Luke begins the novel willing to do anything to achieve the goal–only to discover that Sara means more to him than he ever knew. Sara, on the other hand, learns that vigilantism has its own reward. Or, it can.

I like that When Blood Calls had a substantial plot, but I don’t think that Sara and Luke’s relationship was given enough attention. It’s not that they don’t have potential as a couple, but they never really connect on any level except the sexual. There wasn’t time. The plot, she drives. I do appreciate all the thought that Beck put into the world she created. It makes me excited that the next book will be even better–now that we’d had an introduction. When Blood Calls is also a book with a great deal of gray area. The characters are neither all good or all bad. Even the ones you think you’re supposed to hate redeem themselves. I also really appreciated that the fact that Sara and Luke had slept together wasn’t treated as some awful secret that could potentially ruin her if the truth came out. I think that might be part of my objection to this kind of plot. So it was refreshing to have Sara be honest about what happened between them and not have to worry through the next 200 pages about what her boss would think if he found out. Also, it was the right decision, legally speaking.

My main quibble with When Blood Calls, was that I saw the twist ending coming from a mile away. I’d have liked Luke to learn a little more by the end of the novel. I also think the ending was tad bit too pat. That’s okay, though, because the end of the book featured an excerpt from When Pleasure Rules. I’m definitely putting it on my TBR list.

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