Vampires in America

Duncan (Vampires in America #5) – Excellent rebound from the prior novel

Duncan, D.B. Reynolds, Vampires in AmericaI just recently posted about how I’ve noticed my hometown, Washington, D.C., becoming a more prevalent setting for urban fantasy novels, and this book further supports that!

A change for Duncan was far from a surprise.  Serving Raphael for nearly two centuries, he was more than ready to become a Vampire Lord and manage his own territory. With Raphael and Cyn’s blessing, he’s sent from the west coast to the east coast on a mission to overtake the current Lord in Washington, DC and clean up the territory while he’s at it.  Politics,  corruption and secrets are big characteristics of the city, and the vampire community has its hand in all of it.  Duncan will have to prove that he has what it takes to turn things around.

Enter Emma Duquet.  She infiltrates the world (or at least she tries) in an attempt to locate her best friend and roomate, Lacey.  Lacey’s a bit of a social buttery, but she may have landed herself in the center of a complicated web that is the vampire underground, and Emma wants to do all she can to get her out of it even if that means teaming up with the mysterious Duncan to find her.

I do have to give D.B. Reynolds credit for moving all over Anglo-America in her books.  You might not appreciate it unless she’s written about your hometown, but a lot of thought goes into describing the settings correctly.  I haven’t read her biography but I wonder if she’s lived in these places for a time herself.  It’s a little trippy to read a book about D.C. while IN the city myself.  I was actually in the park facubg one of those famous landmarks as I was reading the book (though I won’t say which one).  That makes it a little more fun.

Once again she seems to have returned to her roots featuring a story on about a missing female, but there is more of a twist to it this time around.  Duncan’s character was great and I liked seeing him in the driver’s seat this time, being a natural leader.  You think about how far he’s come since the first book a lot.  Emma’s character isn’t really that distinguishable from any other heroine, but the chemistry between her and Duncan was natural at least.  While she has a tragic back story, she doesn’t really let it get her down, and through that we learn about Duncan’s past as well which is great for character development.

The cover is bad, yet again (though this time it’s the female model that’s the worst of the two), but at least this time I can see the subtitle! We’re making progress!

This book is an absolute must-read for the fans.  Though it’s the penultimate book in the series, you don’t really get a sense of building tension until the end.  But once you read the last page you will be totally pumped to see how everything plays out in the finale.


Sophia (Vampires in America #4) – The weakest of the bunch

Sophia, D.B. Reynolds, Vampires in AmericaEvery series is likely to have a weak entry and this one is it for Vampires in America.  Raphael and Cyn are back in the spotlight, but they now they share it with a crop of new characters, including the title vampire character.

This time we move northwest to Vancouver, British Columbia and Washington state.  Sophia herself has been summoned there by her Sire in the wake of three vampires’ untimely murders.  Coincidentally, Colin Murphy, a retired Navy SEAL has relocated to the area to clear his mind and live a quiet life.  But he winds up learning about the vampire murders, and as the ultimate protector of the innocent he becomes involved in the case in order to bring to justice those responsible.  As they cross paths and work together, we realize that they have their own history, which presents a challenge.  But they will have to work through that to locate the killer in time before he hurts anyone else.

These vampires were children of Raphael, and the Vampire Lord is none too happy to know of their demise.  He doesn’t trust Sofia, and Cyn wants to help solve the case as well, which only exacerbates his concern for her safety and the unpredictability of the outcome. But if we know Cyn, we know she is committed to the job and will face whatever danger there may behead on.  But this time around, she may have bitten of more than she can chew.

One of the reasons I enjoy this series is that there’s a lot of focus on the mystery component, and while there’s definitely a strong presence of romance, it’s not overbearing a lot of the time.  Well, for this book that’s gone out the window. Sure, there’s a mystery but the romantic melodrama is laid on thick.  This is because we’re not dealing with one couple now, but two.  And that’s just too much for me.  I just wasn’t invested in Sophia and Colin’s situation in the least and I’ll outright admit that I skimmed a lot of their scenes.

I was hoping for the books to get away from the missing women trend that it had going, and it did do that here.  But it still wasn’t enough to create a compelling enough storyline.  I guess D.B. Reynolds stuck with it before because it was a strength.

I would have recommended you skip this book altogether, but there are a few major plot developments that are worth reading.  I can say that I was able to skim through certain scenes with little consequence to getting the big picture, so if you feel that urge, go with it. You’ll be fine.

And of course, a VNF review of this series isn’t complete without my comment on the cover…which is still pretty bad.  I feel like they get worse and worse.  The male model’s pose looks completely unnatural, awkward, and so NOT badass for a supposed Navy Seal.  And once again you can barely read the text at the top of the book thanks to the trees. Whoever designed it obviously skipped the “contrast” chapter in their graphic design book.  It’s ONLY one of the major principles, but what do I know!

So yeah, this book was a bit of a let down, but it wasn’t enough to deter me from continuing with the series, especially knowing that Duncan gets his turn next!


Rajmund (Vampires in America #3) – Another good installment

Rajmund, D.B. Reynolds, Vampires in AmericaSo as to not make us become too tired of Raphael and Cyn, D.B. Reynolds shifts focus from the west coast to the east coast, taking us from Malibu, California to New York City.  While Raphael makes his business rounds, meeting with the master of New York City, Rajmund Gregor, he brings Cyn along to meet her good friend, Professor Sarah Stratton, who came down from upstate New York to visit.  All is well until Rajmund and Sarah bump into each other at their party, and their lives won’t ever be the same.

While Raj is the master of The Big Apple, the official Vampire Lord Krystof rules the entire northeast territory from Buffalo.  Succumbing to the mandess that comes with age, Krystof has made his territory vulnerable, motivating Raj to consider challenging him for power.  He has to bear this pressure as well as solve a mystery involving the disappearances of a string of women. Police believe vampires are involved, so to exonerate his people it’s up to him to solve it.  Sarah Stratton has her own little secret as well; she has a strange psychic connection to these women.  So to help save them she teams up with Raj, but both of them are in over their heads, ending up with more than they bargained for, including each other.

This book is actually very good. I wasn’t sure if I’d be interested in another couple other than Raphael and Cyn, but it really worked out quite well and Reynolds timed the change of scenery perfectly.

I liked Rajmund’s character.  He’s got a younger air about him than Raphael and he’s working his way up towards becoming a Lord, so that was a little more refreshing. While Raphael is the most powerful of the North American Vampire Lords, he’s not the only one, so it’s good to explore other territories since some are evil like Jabril and Krystof, and it’s interesting to see if and how these characters meet their overtimely demise.

Sarah isn’t as physically capable as Cynthia since she’s only a professor, but she’s smart and has a checkered past of her own.  There’s a lot of chemistry between these two from the beginning, but of course we never get a pay off right away with these books, and the series is better off for it.  Again, I’m not the biggest PNR fan so I prefer that we don’t get it out of the gate.

As always with this series, the cover doesn’t live up to the quality of the story.  Sure, there’s beefcake, but again the design is amateurish and I really have to wonder who illustrates them. This is probably the worst one so far. I can barely even read the subtitle written across his head.

The storyline is okay, but after a while once you’ve read these books back to back like I have, it becomes a bit of a pattern so I found my attention wandering here and there, but it wasn’t too significant.  Though it isn’t too bad, I think I’d like to see this series branch out from mysteries about missing women, which was also the mystery for its predecessors. I would like to see more fighting because the action is well done and it keeps the adrenaline going.

All in all, these are easy and entertaining reads and the quality has remained consistent through book 3, so I’ll continue to recommend this series at this point.


Jabril (Vampires in America #2) – Even better than the first

While the scenery has shifted a bit from Malibu, California to Houston, Texas, Cynthia Leighton brings some of her problems there with her. After her falling out with Raphael, to keep herself focused Cyn heads to the lone star state to help yet another Vampire Lord. Except this time her client is the purely evil and sadistic Jabril Karim, who needs Cyn’s P.I. skills to track down the most important acquisition–an heiress who has escaped his clutches before her 18th birthday. Like her sister who he already controls, once she turns 18 she is to become a vampire so that he can acquire her family’s fortune as her guardian.

Of course word spreads fast and Jabril has summoned Cyn all because of her connections to Raphael. Forbidden fruit is always the most tempting and he wants a piece. He is all about ruffling feathers and doing whatever it takes to get ahead. As Cyn soon realizes this, she is in too deep and has to do all she can to save the very two sisters that he wants to keep under his thumb. It takes her back to Cali, showing that she can’t run away from her problems like she wants. And she certainly can’t do it alone, facing Raphael once again since it takes a Lord to defeat a Lord.

This second installment of D.B. Reynolds’s wonderful PNR series is even better than the first. It continues the storyline from the first book, unlike a number of books in this genre that present new heroes and heroines from book to book. Having an overarching couple allows the reader to become more attached to the characters, so I’m glad she took this approach. We get to see them deal with the aftermath of their decision to not be together, which builds a lot of tension and makes their dynamic more interesting.

The villain is fantastic. I love that we got do see a good deal of the horror he revels in inflicting. There were actually a number of bone chilling scenes for me which was a welcome surprise and is another quality that helps separate this series from your typical cookie-cutter story.

I liked how the victims were portrayed as well. Sometimes they were very naive and they embodied the attitude of your typical frustrating and irrational teenager a number of times. Even though they had an enormous hardships losing their parents and falling into Jabril’s clutches, they still managed to be innocent in a lot of ways.

The cover still leaves a lot to be desired for me and I think Jabril looks a bit cockeyed, so I try not to use that picture as a reference when I imagine him.  I still think the lack of a good cover doesn’t do this series any favors.  That said, I’m past judging a book by its cover when it comes to this series, though I’ll comment on the covers until they start to look better.  I don’t know if anybody else does this, but I know it didn’t help to make me want to read these books right away.

The story resolves itself in this book, but the author leaves breadcrumbs that will build up to the following book. And because of that I went right into the following book right away. This book only strengthens my opinion that this series is worth the investment.


Raphael (Vampires in America #1) – A new PNR series I can really get into!

I am first and foremost an Urban Fantasy fan, so while I read PNR series on occasion they don’t really grip me.  Heck, I’m only through book 2 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series myself after starting that series months ago, though I do plan to read them all eventually.  That said, D.B. Reynolds has done a great job at keeping me engaged all throughout.  I have read these books back to back, so I will write a review per day for each one.  Not since the Fever series have I been motivated to read this many books all together.  Though, I read that whole series in 6 days so it’s still distinguished for me. But I digress…

Raphael is the the first book in the Vampire Empire series, taking us to present day Malibu, California. The title character, Raphael, is the Vampire Lord of his territory with legions of loyal vampire and human underlings, but the strength of this loyalty is tested after a female vampire who’s dear to him is abducted.  Since this happens during the day (while vampires sleeps), humans are the likely culprits, so he needs to recruit a human to solve this mystery.

Cue Cynthia Leighton, a successful P.I. and former cop who takes the job on to give herself a good challenge.  But she may have bitten off more than she can chew (pun intended?) as she agrees to work for Raphael, who is proving himself to be irresistible for all of the wrong reasons.  Begrudgingly she has to work with him to find his special vampire, and that’s where things get dangerous…and complicated.

The story deserves a better cover than this.  It’s not the worst cover, but the quality doesn’t really correlate with the writing, which is on a greater level.  I loved that this book drew me in pretty easily.  It’s not too heavy on the magic and world building which may have helped, but the mystery aspect was still pretty interesting as well as the author’s personal take on vampire lore.  I liked that the heroine was smart, even though Raphael becomes a growing weakness for her over time.  I thought the characters were introduced nicely and I could see signs of personalities that will only develop as the series continues.

Thankfully, a number of books are already out because this one ends on a slight cliffhanger.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting from other reviews, but you definitely become motivated to want to pick up the next book.  Raphael and Cyn have great chemistry and it’s only strengthened through the author allowing it to build within the plot.  It keeps things a little more organic than what you find in the everyday run-of-the-mill PNR title.  That said, I still have a problem with centuries old vampires falling for human women who aren’t that extraordinary.  I have a hard time believing that Raphael never came across a independent, smart, and capable woman like Cyn before.  But that didn’t keep me from wanting to continue reading the novels.

I think this series is a really good blend of everything, making it a great middle-ground for PNR/UF fans.

 


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