So if you have read Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress books, I recommend before reading this book that you tell yourself that Denise and Spade are not Cat and Bones, not even close. That doesn't mean that this book is not worth reading, you just have to remember it's different than previous books set in the Night Huntress world. I mean really it's hard to compete with Bones, a centuries old male gigolo and Cat, the half-vampire all-tough girl heroine.
This story picks up over a year after what takes place in "At Grave's End" which is the third book in the Night Huntress series. Although Denise does show up in book four "Destined For An Early Grave" it is really book three that shapes Denise's world view at the beginning of "First Drop of Crimson"(FDOC). Though it is not required to read the Night Huntress series before FDOC, I think it helps a lot to be more sympathetic to Denise at the beginning of the book and understand where her guilt, grief, and PTSD is coming from. In the beginning of FDOC, Denise is coping with the sudden deaths of some of her relatives and watches while her cousin is killed in front of her by a demon. This demon, Raum, is killing all of the descendants of a long lost cousin of Denise's that did not follow though on a deal he made with Raum. Now Denise gets branded by the demon and given an assignment of finding her long lost cousin Nathanial or her closest relatives will suffer. Denise ends up enlisting the help of Spade, a good friend of her best friend's husband. Spade is reluctant at first to help Denise but the more time the two spend together the more they realize they have feelings for each other. Though with the impossible tasks of finding Nathanial and outwitting a demon while staying alive will they give their growing feelings a chance? Though given this is a stand-alone romance with a HEA, you'll get the answer to that question by the end of the book.
This book started out kind of slow for me. I love the Night Huntress series and have read the books more than once, therefore I am used to a faster, action-packed start to the book. In FDOC, Denise and Spade carry a lot of prejudices and baggage about each others world (vampire vs. human). They end up having to work through these problems before anything can really happen. Though once Denise and Spade get a lead on Nathanial the book starts to pick up. Denise also begins to grow from a scared, shattered woman to a stronger more tenacious character. I have to say that at the beginning of the book I did not like her very much but by the end I grudgingly admired her. And Spade, what is there to say about a former baron who still does all the gentlemanly things such as opening doors but is no gentlemen in the bedroom.
There is also a glimpse of people in FDOC that have appeared in the Night Huntress series. One of my favorite appearances was Ian who added a nice touch of bad boy to the book. Cat and Bones also make an appearance in this book but only as minor characters. Unfortunately we have to wait till 2011 for the next Night Huntress book but the next book set in the same world, Eternal Kiss of Darkness is out July 27th of 2010. There is a little blurb at the end of FDOC that talks about the next book which will feature Mencheres.
Overall this book is a 4.5 out of 5 stars for me. A sweet romance, some vampire and demon ass-kicking, and we learn about interesting piercing choices of one of the characters ;)
I love all books snarky, sexy, or action-packed! My favorite genres are urban fantasy and paranormal romance though I read a little of everything. Please feel free to contact me at darklyreading (at) gmail (dot) com