Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Really good follow up to the first book in the series.
Rowan - Human vessel of the goddess Brigid, main vampire executioner for the Hunter Corp. Bad Ass.
Clive - Vampire, the Scion of Las Vegas who is very high in the Vampire Nation hierarchy, Rowan's lover. Starchy Brit.
Theo - 9,000 y.o Vampire known as The First. Head of the Vampire Nation. Rowan's foster father.
The Vampire Nation and the Hunter Corp co-exist more or less peacefully together on the basis of a treaty. Humans do not know Vamps exist. In an effort to keep it that way, there are a series of rules that Vampires must follow. One of the main ones is that they don't wantonly kill humans. If they do break any of the rules, the Hunter Corp. calls in their head executioner Rowan to kill the vamp. In the previous book Goddess with a Blade - Lauren Dane, Rowan had to track down a vamp serial killer. Because of secrets the Vamp nation kept that would have proven critical to Rowan's capture of him and probably saved the lives of some of the women, the Hunter Corp has now put forth an amendment to the treaty that would broaden some of Rowan's power.
The Corp. and the Nation meet annually at something call The Tribunal in order to hammer out details of law and governance. So they all converge at Theo's home known as The Keep. A fortress high on a mountain somewhere in Germany to meet in this year's annual tribunal and vote on the amendment to the treaty. But not everyone is happy. An extremist faction of Vampires don't even want the original treaty much less an amendment that they see will further impede the vampire's right to consider humans just food. An analogous faction in the Hunter Corp don't think the amendment is strong enough and just want to be able to exterminate the vampires at will. And yet some other vamps are trying to create a coup to depose Theo.
By now in urban fantasy it really is hard to create something that feels new. Especially when you include vampires and vampire hunters in the mix. At some point while reading I inevitably think something seems familiar or derivative. And if an author tries something a little too outré, I will inevitably think they are just trying too hard and it comes off as desperate. I think Dane has built a world that, while seeming very familiar, also feels somewhat unique. I got very immersed in her world and didn't constantly flash to or need to compare with some other series by some other author (which unfortunately does happen).
The Tribunal is basically what you would imagine a meeting of a supernatural UN Security Counsel session/G8 summit. They have small group sessions, powerpoint presentations and handouts. The office wrangling and the bickering over points of policy and following Roberts rules of order was a nice backdrop to the more typical UF fare of bad ass heroine, sexy hero and big gleaming swords.
But, no fear, there was a lot of that too. The vampire faction that doesn't want this to happen are particularly vicious and seek to sabotage Rowan at every turn. While also trying to undermine Theo's authority. So there is a lot of showing of teeth, and verbal throwdowns etc. A few great confrontations and a couple of to-the-death fights. So a leetle more exciting than your average industry gathering at the Holiday Inn Convention center.
There is also some wonderful relationship drama as well. Rowan and Clive have a hot sexy relationship that is somewhat scandalous given their respective positions. I love the two of them together. She is so brash and he is so proper. She teases him about the precision of his pocket square in his Savile Row suit. He gets turned on when she punches a snotty vampire in the mouth. They are magic in the sack.
But probably most intriguing is Rowan's relationship with Theo. I loved how complicated their relationship is. We get a glimpse of it in the first book, but the uneasy/deep abiding love they feel for each other is explored more deeply in this one and we get the root of why/how Rowan was raised as Theo's daughter and how that formed who she is now. Good stuff.
And the final show-down between Rowan and the main villain in this one was epic and hard to read. But it sets the stage for the next book. Which I am looking forward to.
My biggest criticism of this book is the same as the previous one. The author sells Rowan's bad-assery waaaay too hard. She keeps telling us how hard, vicious and what a killer Rowan is. We. Get. It. Now. Stahp. Just let it happen. I like potty mouth Rowan. The Rowan who is a little vulgar and crude. Who is also funny and likes to yank Clive's chain and ruffle his proper British sensibilities. I also like it when the author shows that funny Rowan morph into the dead-eyed killer. Much more effective than constantly telling us.
But this was a great book and a wonderful start to my 2014 reading!