Monday, June 6, 2011

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Virna DePaul

Chosen by Blood
Berkley
May 2011

Book Blurb:
United by fate. Bound by desire.

Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and otherborn— humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA—still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.

Leader of an Otherborn clan, half-breed vampire Knox Devereaux would do anything to find a cure for the anti-vamp vaccine slowly starving his people into extinction. When the FBI contacts him about leading a team of hand-selected Others on a mission to reclaim the stolen antidote, Knox accepts. His new assignment places him in direct contact with Special Agent Felicia Locke, the beautiful human he’s craved since their very first meeting.

Technically, Chosen by Blood is not DePaul’s debut book. But it is her debut traditionally published book. Prior to its release, she self-published 2 erotic novellas and co-wrote and self-published a guide to writing romance book. In these changing times when it seems like a lot of unpublished authors are jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon, I was eager to see what brought this self-published author to the attention of not one, but two different publishers (she also has a romantic suspense coming out from Harlequin in September.)

The Plot:
I like the idea that humans have taken a vaccine that makes their blood virtually useless to vampires. While they can’t starve to death, the vamps are getting weaker and losing their powers. This makes them very vulnerable and they are desperate to find a cure.

The Romance:
Like many paranormal romances, this book uses the soul mate plot device. I have nothing against it as long as the author doesn’t use it as an excuse to have the characters fall immediately in love and in bed. DePaul does a good job with this. Knox recognizes Felicia for what she is and pursues her against her wishes. It seems the vampire race has a very medieval outlook on love and marriage. Marriages are made for political alliances and to propagate the vampire species (vamps in DePaul’s world cannot be made without killing the one who does the turning, therefore they need to be born). In vamp society, affairs are accepted. Human Felicia has a big problem with this, especially since Knox is the husband of her best friend. She feels the pull of their attraction but fights him every step of the way. And even after her best friend dies, her loyalty and the realization that she’s human and he’s not keep them apart and the sexual tension high (for a while).

Secondary Characters:
DePaul does a great job of developing the secondary characters of the team. There’s a wraith, were, mage, and a human psychic with healing powers. This is good and bad. Good because they are interesting, well-rounded and we care enough about them that we want to read their stories in future books. Bad in that it can take away from the main characters. I found myself caring more for some of the secondary characters than I did for the hero and heroine. This was especially true with Felicia. She’s the only human on the team with no paranormal ability. At times she seems to only serve as a placeholder -- Knox’s bed buddy and blood supply. While she is supposedly a trained agent, because she was “protected” from some of the danger on the mission, she came across as weak. Compared to the others, she was flat and uninteresting. I was much more intrigued by dynamics between the others.

The Nit Picks:
Pacing -- There’s a lot of attention paid to the team building and skills training of the team. The book is half over before they actually go on the mission. I know this makes it more realistic but most of the time authors skim over this stuff to get to the fast action. I wish DePaul had done a bit more skimming in this area.

Consistency -- I like my paranormal beings to behave like paranormal beings. Knox and Wraith are, for all intents and purposes, dead. Still, they seem to have a need to breathe and sensitivity to cold. That bothered me. They’re dead. If a high velocity impact and an exploding bomb can’t kill them, then lack of oxygen and low temperatures shouldn’t affect them as much as it did.

Believability – *spoiler alert* Knox has drunk from Felicia several times but couldn’t tell that she had pure blood when other vamps can tell from a nose bleed? I didn’t buy it. The excuse that he was caught up in the moment didn’t fly.

The Sexometer:
Hot. Very hot. You can tell this author has an erotica background and she’s not afraid to use it. De Paul doesn’t hold back in the graphic description department when Knox and Felicia finally decide to get down and dirty.

The ‘IT’ Factor:
This book follows the same basic formula of many paranormals before it where you have a group of supernatural beings joining together to fight the bad guys and protect both human and the not-so-human alike. Where this one deviates a bit is that this group acts more like an elite special forces team than a group of immortal guardians who’ve been protecting humanity for centuries. It has a very X-men feel with the different types of paranormal beings coming together and clashing.

3 comments:

  1. Hey Lori,
    Hmm. Usually I can tell if I should add the novel you review to my books-to-read pile or not. I can't this time, so I'm starting a maybe read list.

    Oh, by the way, I finally got to The Body Finder, (one of your post inspired reads). I loved it and now want to get the next book in the series. Thanks. Please keep the reviews coming. :)

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  2. Glad you liked The Body Finder. It was a great YA paranormal.

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  3. Looks like my kind of book right now. Thanks for the review :)

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