Bloodshot (Cheshire Red #1) by Cherie Priest
Publisher: Spectra (Random House 2009)
Cheshire Red Series
Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.
Raylene Pendle, vampire and thief, is sick of taking silly jobs, such as stealing back homemade “naughty” videos that people regret making, and she’s ready for something exciting. Raylene gets her wish in the form of a card she receives in the mail, at her home, and with her name on it. Knowing that only a few people have this info, she’s instantly intrigued. She suspects it’s a fellow vampire, and her suspicions prove to be right on target. What she doesn’t count on is her client, Ian, is not only a vampire, but he’s a blind vampire, and this case will lead her to a clandestine government program that uses vamps (and possibly other supes), as test subjects to get to their sources of power. With the help of Ian, his human assistant, Cal, and a drag queen that calls himself Sister Rose, Raylene confronts a power beyond anything she could have imagined, and an evil that might threaten her very existence.
First off, I’m a Cherie Priest fan through and through, and I was VERY excited to start her new urban fantasy series. I’ll admit, it took me a while to get into, but I think it’s because Bloodshot is very different from her other novels. We take some time to get to know Raylene, who’s all “me, myself, and I” bluster, but underneath, there’s actually a very vulnerable girl in there, which, for a vampire, is very, very refreshing. Raylene prides herself on being prepared for everything and also for not getting attached. We see some of that vulnerability in her reluctant affection for a street urchin, Pepper, that lives in a storage building that Raylene owns, along with her teen brother. Raylene may be tough (she kicks serious, serious ass), but she’s attached to that little girl, and will go to just about any lengths to protect her (even her snotty brother). When Raylene meets Ian, she’s horrified at his condition and at his dependence on his human assistant. Raylene doesn’t trust ghouls, who in her experience only use vampires for one thing, which is to eventually be made vampire. Her research also leads her to Sister Rose, who’s sister was also one of the subjects involved in the Bloodshot program. A little about Sister Rose: Sister Rose, out of drag, is also a Cuban hottie named Adrian, who, I admit, I have a crush on, and Raylene isn’t immune to his hotness either. However, her real attraction lies with Ian, and I think she’s not only drawn to the man himself, but also to his vulnerability, and there’s a hint of possible romance to come (fingers crossed). If the first half took a bit to warm up, the second half hits full throttle almost immediately, and made me go from “like” to “love”. Even if you’re feeling a bit “vamped-out” with the influx of fang-centric stories lately, don’t pass this one up: it’s not your usual vampire cuisine, and if you haven’t discovered the wonderful Cherie Priest, it will make a fan out of you. Absolutely not to be missed!