Blood Born Mass Market Paperback – Apr 27 2010
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About the Author
Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Ice, Burn, and Death Angel. She lives in Alabama with her husband and a golden retriever.
Linda Jones is the acclaimed USA Today bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including Untouchable, 22 Nights, and Bride by Command. She lives in Huntsville, Alabama.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Los Angeles, California She was losing her mind. There was no other explanation. She hadn’t slept more than thirty minutes at a stretch for the past three days. How could she, when the dreams were so vivid and came so quickly, one after the other, startling her awake every time her name was called? Some of the details were murky, but two things she always remembered very clearly: the man, and the way he called to her.
It wasn’t fair. She was twenty-three years old, healthy, unattached—at the moment—and living in the bustling and exciting city of Los Angeles, far from the family she’d left behind in Missouri. She should be having the time of her life, the way she had been just a few days ago, and not dragging herself around in a stupor of fatigue. Normally she wouldn’t complain about vivid dreams of a very large and muscular, mostly naked, dark-haired hunk who felt so real there were moments she actually forgot he was the product of a dream, but she needed her sleep.
Now it was getting worse; he was invading her waking hours, too, though, to be fair, for the past three nights it seemed as if most of her hours had been spent awake. She’d started hearing him at different times, and the way he called her name was getting more and more urgent. Hearing him! Really, truly hearing him. It might be a whisper of her name as she walked down the hall, or a very faint yearning call as she stepped into the shower. She wasn’t imagining the voice. It was real. Only it couldn’t be real. She didn’t do drugs, so that meant she was losing her mind. It was the only explanation. Fine. The mind could go, so long as she could get some sleep.
She’d been sitting slumped at the table, picking at an ordered-in meal, but she was too tired to eat and finally she gave up on the effort. Dragging herself to her feet, she cleaned off the table and tossed what was left of her supper into the garbage can. As soon as she lifted the lid, the strong, sour odor of several uneaten meals hit her right in the nose. Shit, she should’ve taken the garbage out before it got dark. Not that she was afraid of the dark, and the Dumpster for the apartment complex was in a well-lit area just a few yards from the end of the stairwell, but she’d already changed into her at-home grubbies, she was barefoot, and if she dared leave the apartment looking like this the odds were she’d bump into some really hot guy who’d take one look at her and decide she was about as attractive as her garbage. That was the way life worked. On the other hand, did meeting at the complex Dumpster qualify as “meeting cute”?
She could wait until tomorrow to take out the trash, but that would mean waking up to that smell. And that was assuming she actually got some sleep tonight. She was so tired, she didn’t think anything could keep her awake, not even a naked dark-haired hunk.
She tugged the plastic trash bag out of the can and tied the top, tested the knot to be certain it would hold, then trudged out the door, down the flight of stairs just outside her apartment door, and around the corner. “Johanna!”
Her hair stood on end as her name echoed both in her head and from somewhere around her. It was spooky, the way the sound seemed to come from everywhere at once. It made her want to run home like a scared little kid, to hide her face in her mother’s lap. And that was the last thing she wanted to do, considering how dead set her mother had been against her moving away. Things hadn’t changed since then, either. Her mother was always warning her to be careful. L.A. was a big city. She hated the idea of her daughter being in such a heavily populated place. So many people! The lecture was delivered on a regular basis: Lock your doors, don’t go out alone at night, watch out for strangers. Yeah, right. That last one was a hoot. She was a hair stylist, so she met new people every day. Moreover, she was fairly new to the area, which meant almost everyone she met was a stranger. Why bother to live in L.A. if she was going to close herself off in her apartment every night? She was here to make her reputation as the hair stylist to go to if you had a special event, someone who could make you look both elegant and edgy. One of these days she’d be stylist to the stars. The strange sound came again. There was an urgency in this latest call of her name, as if it were a warning. “Leave me alone,” she whispered, focusing on the Dumpster straight ahead. The faint sound of her own voice made her sharply aware that there was no one in the parking lot of the small apartment complex at this time of night. People who had to be at work early were already asleep, probably having perfectly ordinary dreams. Those who worked at night weren’t home yet. All she saw were a few cars, including her own, a lamppost, and the winding sidewalk that led to the pool. It was all comfortingly familiar. This was her home now; there was nothing to be afraid of, except the possibility that she was going nuts.
She tossed the bag of garbage into the Dumpster, turned, and stifled a shriek as she lurched backward, almost bumping into the trash container. A tall man with long blond hair stood right behind her, reflective sunglasses making his eyes look like giant insect eyes, with the lights reflecting in the lenses. “Shit!” she exclaimed, then put her hand over her heart as if she could physically calm its frantic pace. “I almost jumped out of my skin!” He paused, his head tilting to the side. “Interesting,” he said. “I didn’t know humans could do that.”
She would have laughed if she hadn’t been so preoccupied with catching her breath. Where had he come from? She hadn’t heard a sound, though he had to have been following almost in her footprints. Surely she should have heard him leave his apartment, heard his door open and close.
She’d been right about something like this happening, she thought in disgust. Her hair was a mess, she didn’t have a trace of makeup on, and she was dressed like a bag lady, so of course a trip to the Dumpster would bring her face-to-face . . . well, face-to-chest . . . with a hunk. He was dressed all in black; he had a serious Johnny Cash vibe going on. Still, she should have seen him, heard him, but she supposed she could only blame her foggy state of mind.
She tipped her head back to look at him. What was with those pretentious sunglasses? It was night. Not that there wasn’t a more than fair share of pretentiousness in L.A., where everyone was a star or about to become one. This guy was no star. She would’ve remembered this face if she’d seen it before. Wowza, she thought dazedly. He could give her dream stalker a run for his money in the looks department.
Like she was in any kind of shape to admire handsome strangers.
The voice was the one in her dreams, and for a moment she was stunned that he’d said anything other than her name. Then the urgency in the faraway voice seeped into her weary mind and uneasiness chilled her spine.
“Excuse me,” she said, stepping to the side to allow him access to the Dumpster. He moved, too, his action mirroring hers, and like a slap in the face she realized he wasn’t carrying any trash. The taste of copper filled her mouth. Every cell in her body seemed to tense as a rush of alertness seized her, but before her brain could quite send the message to scream he lifted his hand and used one finger to pull his sunglasses down so she could see his blue eyes . . . his glowing blue eyes.
The scream never came. She felt herself sinking into that gaze, and the odd thing was, she didn’t want to tear herself free. The growing fear of a moment ago vanished as if it had never existed; instead, she was filled with a sense of warmth and pleasure. He was beautiful. She wanted to please him, to do whatever he wanted.
“Oh,” she said in a voice of wonder, reaching out as if to touch his face.
He caught her hand instead, lifting it to his mouth in an elegant and old-fashioned salute. The touch of his lips was warm on her fingers. “Good-bye,” he said, and slid eight inches of a knife blade between her ribs and into her heart.
That hurts, she thought, but without any urgency. “I don’t want to leave,” she said, faintly bewildered. “I want to stay with you.” Why was it so hard to talk? Why did she feel as if she couldn’t draw a breath? She blinked at him, trying to formulate an argument, but thoughts kept slipping away from her and time faded away. She became aware, on some distant level, that somehow she wasn’t standing in front of him any longer but was lying on the ground in front of the Dumpster. That wasn’t right. She would never . . . too many germs . . . she should get up.
And there he was again, the man in her dreams, as vivid as he had ever been. He said her name once more ...
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
2nd...I was trying to find out when the 2nd book in the series would be published. Well the book has been written, and the title is Warrior Rising.
BUT....the publisher says the bottom has fallen out of the Vampire book market and they've put the book on hold indefinitely.
Shame on Ballantine publishing.
WITH THAT BEING SAID
I still think it is an awesome book and a worthwhile read. I checked it out from the library, so I did not invest 'real money' on it, but was totally ready to buy book 2. Imagine my disappointment....At any rate, this book does leave you wanting for a an ending in the sense that you want to know what it going to come next, what is in the characters' futures. However, it definitely a 'stand alone' in the sense that major events were dealt with and one is given closure.
I hope the publishers change their mind, or the author(s), if allowed, self publish.
Others have given plot summary, so I won't redo that...just wanted to let you know that
1) its a good read, kept my interest (although at times it seemed a bit wordy in the beginning, but found a nice pace)
2) there is no book 2...so if you are one that NEEDS full closure this might not be for you
3) different vampire story, but definitely not what I would consider romance ;) Don't get me wrong, it is there but where as normally a romance focuses primarily on main characters' love (acquiring, accepting, fighting, etc.) here it is simply a part of the story...not a focus
HOpe this review helps :)
The world we are thrown in is nothing totally unique but it worked for me. We have vampires living hidden between the ignorant humans who are unaware of the danger they live in. Vampires aren't completely the way they are often pictured in these kind of book but they aren't really something new either. They drink blood, they don't like the light but can learn to tolerate it and they can't breach into your home because of spell cast a few hundred years back. But all the rest we think to know about them isn't true. The vampires in this book are mostly aloof to say it nice. They see the humans as a necessity, something they need to live. They need the human blood and the best way to do that is to stay hidden in the dark or otherwise the humble humans would start a rebellion against the monsters. That's what most of the vampires think. In the last few years a group of rebells formed and now wants to grab the reigns of the world and form it the way they want it: vampires as masters and the humans nothing more as kettle. We also have the immortal warriors who are there to save the human race from the danger that will come. They are from another world and can only enter ours if invited by a so called conduit, a special human descendant of this warrior. The conduits are the warrior's only way to get here so it is a logically step for the vampire rebells to try to destroy this passage. So the conduit hunt begins.
The story starts with one of the oldest vampires in this world- Luca Ambrus. He is our hero and one of the few blood born vampires (that means he is the child of 2 vampires and not turned through blood transfer as most of them are). He's very old (2000+ years) and powerful, he has gifts most vampires can't even imagine and he likes to live on his own, secluded from the rest of the world. For me Luca was not easy to like. He's not a bad guy or had any major flaws I could point out now but he just didn't do it for me. His actions his reason to do them were mostly wrong in my mind. He did good things and all the stuff hero's are supposed to do but I never had the feeling he did cuz of the right reasons. I'm not sure if that makes any sense at all to you but it is hard to explain. Perhaps he was too aloof for me but it was right to make him that way. I know that 2000 years of experience would make someone different and perhaps he was just too different for me.
Chloe is a conduit and of course she doesn't know that. She has an ordinary life with even more ordinary problems. When the first vampire tries to kill her she is thrown headfirst in a world of monsters and her only help is Luca. He offers his help and she knows it would be stupid to refuse. She wants to live and she was never someone to shy away from problems. I really liked Chloe as a character. She is a strong woman with the right morals and a good attitude. I enjoyed reading her part of the book and was a bit disappointed that there weren't more parts about her. I disagreed with her a few times and some choices really pissed me off but I still liked her.
That brings me directly to one part of the book I didn't like so much. We have again a vast variety of POVs. I never noticed it so much in the past but I kind of run into more of those books in the last few books. It could be that it is only me but I was highly annoyed with the ongoing shift between places and characters. It always happened when I just started to feel for a certain character and bam we are thrown into a totally different storyline again and I was left wanting more of the last one. Not a good start for the next part and so it went on and on. I think I really am no fan of this.
Also worth a mention is Sorin- he is the second in command of the bad rebel vampires and I really enjoyed his part in the book. He was a good mix of good and bad and he really drew me in. I so hope he gets his own book in this series. He is so worthy of my interest.
All in all I think the many story-lines and different plot directions distracted a bit too much from the romance between Chloe and Luca. I was surprised that they loved each other at the end. The world building was nicely done and the story was interesting. The story didn't grab me as much as I wanted it too but all in all I still want to read book 2, Warrior Rising. I'm highly intrigued by both Sorin and his heroine Iklayina.