Say it ain’t so!! So I find a series that I genuinely enjoy. No mopey heroine (okay, maybe she’s a little obnoxious, but at least she’s fun about it), no emo vampires, just lots of action and fun. While it wasn’t a cliffhanger, I finished this book thinking there would be more in store. Well unfortunately Cherie Priest was only contracted for two books, meaning this may be the last we see of Raylene and friends unless the books sell more. So I guess I’m doing my part and recommending you guys read this one if you enjoy light urban fantasy series.
I read Hellbent (Book 2 of the Cheshire Red Reports) before the first and I believe it works well as a standalone. Raylene, our favorite professional vampire thief, is settling in well at her new digs after her old warehouse/home was raided by the Feds. She’s picked up a couple of new roomies too: blind vampire Ian Stott and my personal favorite Adrian deJesus, ex-Navy Seal and Drag Queen extraordinaire. While unconventional, a sense of domesticity is established as Ian helps mentor the orphan siblings Pepper and Domino who we met in Bloodshot. Adrian is still primarily focused on finding his sister who had been abducted along with Ian for that top secret government experiment that left him blind.
There is more development with that plot point, clearly establishing it as an overarcing storyline in the series. Aside from that, the master of Ian’s house has been murdered and he’s slated to take his place. This doesn’t sitting right with his brother whose been waiting in the wings to take control. Ray must protect Ian from the target on his back while taking on a side quest to collect powerful ancient artifacts.
While the books feel like more of the same, I actually think I liked the second book a bit more than the first. The characters are becoming more familiar with each other and beginning to settle into a dynamic. Who am I kidding, I liked that there was more Adrian. He’s a great sidekick for Raylene and even though she’s more powerful as a vampire, his skills, wits, and determination, allow him to keep up with her fairly well. The series doesn’t have a lot going on in the romance department, but it seems like the author wants to test the waters between both Adrian and Ian. Though her chemistry with Adrian is even stronger in this book and almost non-existent with Ian.
The vampire politics were interesting and ended up being the center of some of the best action. The humor is as strong as ever and I found myself laughing out loud a number of times. The characters are all likable in their own way…even Ray’s new kitty cat. The ending is predictable, but it makes sense. Overall, Hellbent is and enjoyable ride, but what bring the series down a bit is that it should have been structured as a duology if there was a risk that so many loose ends would be there when it’s all said and done.
If there is a book 3, I want it right away. But if there isn’t I do plan to follow Cherie Priest’s steampunk series because she’s a good writer and I like her style.
*ARC provided by NetGalley
Sometimes you really need a light Urban Fantasy series that checks all of the usual drama and headaches at the door. When you’re in the mood for that then you should check out the Cheshire Red Reports by Cherie Priest. Bloodshot (Book 1) introduces us to vampire Raylene, a very independent, efficient, and hilariously neurotic professional thief.
Her skills catch the attention of Ian Stott, a fellow vampire who needs her help. He hires Raylene to locate top secret files about an experimental program that caused him to go blind. This requires her to travel throughout the country, eventually landing in Atlanta where the fun really begins. It turns out Raylene is a potential target for this program as well, so she must evade this organization as well as the Feds who want to take her down. This of course makes her job a little more difficult.
She ends up meeting a peculiar drag queen named Adrian. There’s definitely more to this character than meets the eye and he ends up partnering with Raylene. It turns out he’s an Ex-Navy SEAL and he’s searching for his sister, who he believes was also a part of the experiment. I can tell you right now that I totally loved this character, even more than Ian. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d say one of my favorite characters is an Ex-Navy SEAL who moonlights as a drag queen, but there it is. Normally humans are boring, but I enjoyed his chemistry with Raylene even more than Ian.
There are other supporting characters as well that I liked, including a kid brother and sister team who live with Raylene. They are orphans but they’re pretty crafty at times, making them useful to Ray. They’re also at the center of a number of hilarious lines.
There’s a great mix of action, comedy and mystery that makes this a fairly quick read. Raylene’s not the typical self-loathing and emo vamp (like many that have begun to saturate the genre), making this series a breath of fresh air. I actually ended up reading the second book first, but I enjoyed that one so much that I went back to see how it all began. Based on the structure of the story, it seems as if the books in this series can work well enough as a standalone.
Overall I recommend this book if you keep in mind that it’s not to be taken that seriously. Sometimes you don’t need that for a good read.