Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Alex Maguire is a bush pilot in Alaska and is making a delivery to the Toms family when she comes on a scene of unimaginable horror. The Tomses are all dead, slain in a single night, their bodies mostly drained of blood and left out in the snow. Alex reports it to Zach Tucker, her friend and the town of Harmony's constable, even as she lands to search for any survivors. She finds none, although she does find a single naked, bloody footprint in the snow, and her stomach seizes as she is drawn back into her childhood horror of an attack that left her mother and brother dead.

Kade is a Breed warrior who was originally from Alaska, but when a report of a video posted on the internet is recognized by the order as being the aftermath of a vampire attack, Lucan, the leader of the Order, sends Kade back to his home to investigate, destroy the vampires who did this, and wipe the memories of anyone who witnessed the attack. When he arrives, he finds that the good people of Harmony are worried about the attack, which they blame on wolves. Alex is about to confess that she knows what is really behind the attacks when she catches a glimpse of Kade, and thinks better about it.

The next day, she goes back out to the Toms place to see if she could be remembering wrong, but when she enters Papa Toms' house, she is surprised to see Kade there and wonders how he got there when he'd been in Harmony just the night before, but isn't satisfied with his explanation that he snowshoed there. But he has no intention of leaving before the sun goes down. She's also fairly stunned at the amount of weapons he carries on him, and she questions him being just a hunter, as he told her the night before.

At the same time, she feels an attraction to him, one which he returns in spades. But he thinks she is just a human, so that he can simply have fun with her, and wipe her memories when he leaves. She leaves to return to town, and he encounters her again the next day in the town tavern. He talks with her and asks her to tell him what she really saw at the Tomses. And she is about to, before they are interrupted, so she runs instead.

Meanwhile, Kade is checking out Skeeter, a shifty guy who lives with his mother and is a complete loser. Skeeter is only out for himself, and sells drugs and alcohol to the dry native communities. He's also the one who shot the video of the carnage at the Tomses and posted it to a death porn site. But he isn't there. He's already run afoul of the other Breed in the area and been drained into becoming a minion. Kade tracks him to a company site and sees him working with the other minions there.

Kade has also heard about another older man gone missing, and hires Alex to bring him to the missing man's place to check what clues might have been left there. But the sight of the man's body makes Alex go hysterical, and as Kade takes care of the mess, he sends her to wait for him in the house. When he finally gets back, Alex is waiting for him.

Kade makes her feel safe, and she gives herself to him completely. She also reveals, through her nakedness, the sight of a breedmate mark on her leg. Kade can't have a one night stand with her and just leave. Not if she's a breedmate. But he also can't resist her, and they make furious love.

Afterwards, she tells him the truth about what happened to her mother and brother as a child- they were attacked by rogue breed vampires, and she and her father only barely managed to escape, and they came to Alaska when she picked it out on a globe. Harmony sounded friendly, so they moved here. And now she's found that the monsters are here, too...

Kade tries to tell her what she is, but only gets partway into the explanation before they are called back to town by an attack on some of the hunters, who intended going after the wolves. Kade and Alex fly back as quickly as possible and discover Skeeter in the process of killing the one surviving hunter. Kade kills Skeeter and tells Alex he must meet the rest of the warriors of the Order whom he has called in.

But at the headquarters set up by Dragos' minions, they discover that the Ancient, who has been moved here by Dragos, has broken free and drunk from Alex's friend, Jenna. While the Order take care of the Minions and Dragos's men, Alex is found by Seth, Kade's half-wild brother and is imperiled by Zach, Skeeter's source. But when Alex becomes a target for the Ancient, can Kade save her in time?

I liked this book. Although I wasn't familliar with Kade before the start of the book, he's new to the Order, so I didn't feel like I should know him that well. Although joining the order now seems to be like- join and find a Breedmate lifemate. Or at least that has to be something of a joke going around by now among the members of the Order.

I liked both Alex and Kade both, but neither really stood out much. Kade's big secret is his brother, who is running wild with the wolves and going around killing people- when Jenna, Alex's friend is attacked, we're not really sure who attacked her, Kade's brother Seth or the Ancient. Alex's big secret is what exactly happened to her mother and brother down in Florida, where she used to live. She tells everyone that a car wreck killed them, but we can see that's not the case.

And I felt for Jenna as well. Jenna, who is only a secondary character, loses her husband before the book begins. Her brother the sheriff turns about to be crooked, her best friend, Alex, is talking about leaving Alaska to start her life over (and that's even *before* she falls in love with Kade), and then she's attacked and has some of her blood drained by the ancient, and ends up mumbling in his language. I got the feeling that she was being heavily sequel-bated, i.e. that she is going to end up being a breedmate and mated to one of the order when and if she recovers from the attack- maybe even in the very next book.

I still like the series, but I felt that Jenna was the more interesting character in this particular book, so this perhaps wasn't a very successful pairing for me. I liked both characters just fine, but they didn't stand out for me so much. Not as much as, say, Reichen and Claire, from "Ashes of Midnight". Since I've enjoyed the rest of the series just fine, I'll still continue to read about the Breed Warriors of the Order. But I am hoping we get something really different next time. Recommended.

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