Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.
Raylene is a vampire thief, hired by a blind vampire to steal his medical files from people who experimented on him in the hope that he can be cured. Along with Ian's loyal ghoul Cal and an ex military drag Queen, Raylene takes on government and military enemies.
When I read the back of the book and saw that the team had a vampire thief, blind vampire, ghoul and drag queen, I grabbed this off the shelf and rushed to buy it. I certainly wasn't disappointed! Raylene is a tough kickass vampire whose cocky attitude leads to her making some life threatening mistakes which makes her a much more interesting character. I like a flawed hero better than one who is totally invincible. She lives in a warehouse and allows two homeless kids to sleep there in an unorthadox alliance which makes an interesting side story when intruders break in. She pretends not to care about the kids as that is a human trait but you know that her cool attitude to them is just a front.
Now Raylene is taking on Ian's case. It sounds at first like a simple matter of stealing Ian's files back from a known facility but when a contact looks into the case for her, he barely escapes an ambush with his life, and the flagged email file he sent her now places Raylene in danger and she goes on the run, getting Ian and Cal somewhere safer. The files also tell her that Ian's files were stolen by an AWOL military guy, meaning that she must find him first by breaking into the facility for his file. I liked this part of the story which was all action as Raylene risks her life to get a lead on the case. I liked Raylene because she was the feisty kind of paranormal heroine that I like reading about and the plot was fast moving and never dull. These two things are vital for me to enjoy an urban fantasy adventure!
Her research leads her to a missing girl who was a fellow victim of the people who tortured Ian. She finds out that the AWOL soldier Adrian is her brother who is estranged from his family for making a living as a drag queen called Sister Rose. Adrian is a brilliant character and it was great to see a bit of diversity in the main characters in the book with him and a blind vampire. Adrian is more than capable of kicking ass in both of his personas and I loved his friendship with Raylene. They made a really great team and the action scene at the club when they meet is really well written. I also liked the tension in Cal's relationship with Raylene and his devotion to his boss. Cal grows on me throughout this book. In fact, I liked all the main characters.
There is a sideline of a growing attraction between Ian and Raylene which I actually liked. Those who follow my reviews know that I'm not a fan of romance but having the tough MC getting involved with the vulnerable blind vampire was great as it added diversity to the book. Usually a character with an impairment of some kind is left in the background and doesn't often get to be the love interest, so it was nice to see the author going in a different direction. However the romance element does not overpower the story in any way, for those worried about it. This book is proper urban fantasy, not sex filled paranormal romance.
This book has plenty of action with the various break ins, attacks and hiding from the bad guys but it also takes the time to develop the characters and make you care about them. The bad guys are proper bad guys that you want to boo and hiss. There are a few plot twists that you might or might not guess and the whole book is well written, exciting and entertaining. What more could I want in an urban fantasy series?
There was only one let down-there are only two books in the series as the publisher decided not to continue with the series. Cherie Priest has no current plans to continue as self published which is a shame but maybe in the future we might see more of the gang.
Read November 2011.