First Drop of Crimson
Published 2010 371 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
The night is not safe for mortals. Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows – her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield – and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family's past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness – and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who lusts for a taste of her.
He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human – even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the nightmare together…
Because once the first crimson drop falls, they will both be lost.
First Drop of Crimson is a stand alone spin-off novel from Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. Set in the Night Huntress World the novel shares characters and background from the Night Huntress novels but instead of following the heroic and romantic adventures of long-running series protagonists, Cat and Bones, the story is a stand alone paranormal romance with new central characters.
The first characters from the Night Huntress World to get a little love in their lives are Spade and Denise. Readers familiar with the Night Huntress books will remember that Denise was recently widowed in a zombie attack and that Spade is a master vampire who occasionally helps out the forces of good, on behalf of his friend Bones. Readers unfamiliar with the Night Huntress books need not worry, First Drop of Crimson is a stand alone story and all the background is explained (without an overwhelming information dump) as the story unfolds.
The Night Huntress series books are part of the urban fantasy romance genre. This genre is best described as strong female protagonist and exciting fantasy action plots with an equally strong romance element – unlike most urban fantasy books where the heroine usually has to suffer a chaotic love life in addition to being responsible for saving the world from monsters. As a reader who likes reading romance but prefers their romances to have an edge Jeaniene Frost has been one of my favourite authors for some time. (Be it fantasy action, mystery or humour – the type of edge doesn’t matter as long as it has one!)
With a greater emphasis on romance First Drop of Crimson reads more like a standard paranormal romance novel than Frost’s previous books. It follows the usual romance conventions, sexy master vampire meets attractive irresistible human and events follow their natural course. Relationship conflict is provided by Denise’s rejection of the supernatural world after the death of her husband. She has no desire to be involved with a vampire. Spade doesn’t date humans ever since he lost a human lover in tragic circumstances. Even as a demon shapeshifter preys upon Denise throwing her into the path of Spade the romance just wasn’t enough to keep the pace of the book going.
First Drop of Crimson gets off to a good start, lags in the middle but rallies to a strong finish with the introduction of Cat and Bones into the storyline and a general amping up of the action saving the last third of the book. Spade and Denise have never been particular favourites of mine from the Night Huntress series and this book didn’t change that. In fact I found Spade’s character quite disturbing. In his desire to protect Denise he kills a lot of other vampires. Clearly some of them were the villains of this piece – bad guy characters whose sole purpose was to be killed by the good guys – but Spade’s slash and burn policy of killing all the vampires associated with the “bad guy vampire” whether they needed or deserved killing seems at best extreme and at worst creepy and psychotic. Even in fantasy romance one has to ask – is your lover indiscriminately murdering dozens of other beings for you a good thing?
If you are an existing fan of Frost’s Night Huntress books I think your enjoyment of First Drop of Crimson will probably come down to whether you are a romance or an urban fantasy fan. Romance fans have no cause for complaint with this story – it is full of relationship conflict, sexy heroes and sexy sex. Urban fantasy fans may want a bit more action from their female protagonist and a little less relationship stuff… it’s a matter of personal taste.
For me First Drop of Crimson isn’t the best Jeaniene Frost book that I’ve read but I’ve never really liked Spade or Denise’s characters so this may have impinged upon my judgement. However I’ve always been curious about Mencheres, the vampire hero of the next Night Huntress Wold book (Eternal Kiss of Darkness) and I’m still eagerly anticipating his book…
LoveVampires Review Rating:
You can find out more about the Night Huntress novels and read an excerpt from this book at Jeaniene’s website.