Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian
Published by Dell, 2007
BONDED BY BLOOD AND DARK SECRETS, THEY ENTER A PLACE OF DANGER AND INFINITE PLEASURE...
He comes to her more dead than alive, a towering black-clad stranger riddled with bullets and rapidly losing blood. As she struggles to save him, veterinarian Tess Culver is unaware that the man calling himself Dante is no man at all, but one of the Breed, vampire warriors engaged in a desperate battle. In a single erotically charged moment, Tess is plunged into his world--a shifting, shadowed place where bands of Rogue vampires stalk the night, cutting a swath of terror.
Haunted by visions of a dark future, Dante lives and fights like there is no tomorrow. Tess is a complication he does not need--but now, with his brethren under attack, he must shield Tess from a growing threat that includes Dante himself. For with one reckless, irresistible kiss, she has become an inextricable part of his underworld realm and his touch awakens her to hidden gifts, desires, and hungers she never knew she possessed. Bonded by blood, Dante and Tess must work together to thwart deadly enemies, even as they discover a passion that transcends the boundaries of life itself...
This is book two in the Midnight Breeds series...which I did not realize when I checked it out from my public library. I thought it was the first book (which is actually Kiss of Midnight) and almost did not read it when I discovered it wasn't. I really prefer to read series in order. However, I thought I would at least start it and if I was lost, I'd set it aside until I could get back to the library. Later that afternoon, I put it aside very happy that I made an exception to my reading-in-order rule. I commend Lara Adrian for being able to give enough back ground info to keep me from being confused about her world without ever feeling like I was struck by an info-dump.
Tess Culver is a vet in one of the less-well-to-do parts of Boston who often discounts her work in order for her customers to be able to afford her services. This often leaves her paying the clinics bills from her personal savings which are running out fast. She knows she won't be able to keep it up much longer and she is pondering if it is time for her to move on, as she lives a fairly isolated life. Her vet tech, Nora and ex-boyfriend, Ben are her only friends and both of these relationships are changing; Nora, who is training be a vet herself, isn't sure how much longer she will be able to work for Tess and keep up with her studies. Ben, who loves Tess, continues to pressure her to take him back, while Tess knows it would not be fair to either of them. Their relationship is, understandably, strained.
Dante is a breed, a vampire warrior who hunts Rogues, or vampires who have given into blood lust and become killers. Dante has been haunted by visions of his own death, a legacy from his mother who accurately predicted the deaths of herself and Dante's father. Dante dreams of fiery flames and the visions are getting stronger, hitting him while he is awake. One night while hunting Rogues, Dante comes across something new, a vampire caught up in blood lust who does not die upon contact with the Titanium blades of Dante's knives. Dante, versed in battle, is still able to dispatch the Rogue-like vamp, but is soon ambushed by four more Rogues. He escapes and ends up hiding in Tess' vet supply room. When Tess hears him, she is, to put it mildly, surprised to see someone who looks like they came from the losing side of a battle. Covered in burn marks, cuts, scrapes, and the proud owner of two bullet wounds, Dante doesn't make the best first impression, especially when he feeds from Tess, bringing her to believe she is being attacked.
Dante removes Tess's memories of his feeding (which bothered me, as it didn't seem to be a fair balance of power-and every time they interacted after that, I was upset that Dante was keeping this secret from Tess). It is then that he notices a birthmark that marks Tess as a potential Breedmate--and Dante's feeding has completed half of the mate bond. As if that hasn't been a busy enough evening for Dante, when he returns to the Breed compound, he finds out that the vampire he killed was hopped up on a new designer drug, Crimson and Dante has been partnered with an agent to try to find out the supplier to end this epidemic before it gets more out of control. There is a subplot involving Dante's partner and a Breedmate widow which was very emotionally charged and I hope that later books give us more information as to what happens with them both.
I don't want to get too much further into the plot as there would be major spoilers, but suffice to say that this was an action packed book with lots going on. Tess eventually regains her lost memories, for which I was very thankful, I would not have been happy if she never recovered them and would have doubted any future for Dante and Tess. As it was, her reaction was suitably ticked and working through the issue deepened her and Dante's relationship. I will definitely go back and read the first book...and then I will happily sit down with the rest of the series, too. In order, of course! Luckily for me, it looks like there are at least a dozen books in this series.
This book rates a 4/5.
I borrowed this book from my local public library.