Saturday, 10 November 2007

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

This is book 2 of the Midnight Breed series. Which started with Kiss of Midnight. Carrying on from where the first book left off. Kiss of Crimson follows Dante, as he and his fellow Breed Warriors search for the suppliers of a drug called Crimson. This drug has the unfortunate effect of triggering the users change into a Rogue vampire. During the course of the investigation Dante is injured and takes blood from Tess, who unbeknownst to him is a Breedmate. Having started the blood bond, he now finds himself drawn to her. But Tess is more closely linked to the distribution of Crimson than she knows, putting both herself, her friends and Dante in danger.

Tess is a strong heroine, who even when she's in trouble, never stops thinking. She's got a mind of her own and she isn't afraid to stand up for herself, which is good, else Dante would walk all over her, and this relationship wouldn't be lasting very long.

I like that even though Dante and Tess are essentially fated to mate once he's fed from her, that they both don't immediately succumb to it. He fights it, knowing he's fed from a Breedmate, and she fights it because she doesn't understand it. Initially neither of them are particularly thrilled about the situation. It's handled in a very realistic way. There's no immediate jumping into bed together - though that does happen, and yes he has a huge penis LOL - they test the ground with each other first. Tess is understandably wary having just come out of a bad relationship with her ex-boyfriend Ben.

Ben I couldn't help but feel sorry for in a way. He's almost a perfect illustration for the road to hell being paved with good intentions. He desperately wants to do the right thing, but he's weak. His jealousy becomes like a cancer inside him, and eventually he's eaten away.

The subplot of both the Crimson dealing, and new guy Chase and his unrequited love for Elise are smoothly intertwined into the main story. His longing comes across powerfully on the page and she is oblivious to it. All she wants is for her son to come home safely, and Chase wants to be the one to give that to her. I find myself hoping that Chase will be getting his own story, as he's by far the most complex character introduced so far. He says he doesn't give into his urges, but when he gives into them, it's almost with a sense of self-loathing and it happens in public with Tegan (Breed Warrior) watching - Ouch! He intially joined the Warriors with his own motives, he fucks up and then has to help put things right. But because of his error in judgment it's too late to rescue two people who might otherwise have been saved.

I also think in Kiss of Crimson we get a better idea of what it means to go from being human to being a minion. How someone's humanity is stripped away until all that's left is the will of their master. Very well done.

My favourite bit of the story, is when Dante tells Tess he has a dog - which he doesn't - which he then spontaneously names Harvard - his nickname for Chase. Of course now he's told her he's got a dog, he has to get one. This so humanized him for me, the fact that this lie came out of his mouth, probably whilst his brain was going WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? Then when he rings up the animal shelter to get a dog.
"I need one of your animals," Dante told her.
"Excuse me?"
"The dog from your website, the old one. I want it."

He does slightly come across like he's planning an animal sacrifice. LOL

There are other nice touches. When Dante and Tess are discussing the myth of Endymion and Selene at the museum, there's the whole other subtextual conversation going on. The dead pool the other Breed Warriors have going on how long it's going to take Dante before he cracks and kills Chase. It's these little things that raise this story above other vampire novels around at the moment. It's things like this that make the Midnight Breed world real.

I am picking up on some inconsistencies. Bloodlust is apparently a one way street, but I thought in book 1 it was said they managed to bring Tegan back from it. Maybe the cost to benefit ratio is too high for this to be practical for everyone? Also when Dante first meets Tess his mind control doesn't work on her, and then she's suddenly susceptible? Maybe he was too injured when they first met for it to be effective?

I'm still seeing similarities here between the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Ukiah Oregon series. Rio - horrifically scarred and misogynistic confronts Tess (Z confronting Beth), and the Ukiah Oregon series has a drug called Invisible Red. Having said that I think the Midnight Breed series is slowly coming into its own. And I hope that by book 3 - Tegan's story, I'll be able to completely immerse myself in the Midnight Breed world without being distracted.

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