An introduction before I get to my review: Since the above-mentioned book, a series of novellas titled Primal, is split into four different novellas I thought it would make more sense if I reviewed them individually as I was reading, thereby satisfying my inexplicable need to criticize the shit out of everything that I read.
First off, I picked this book at random off the shelf from Wal-Mart, craving something a little more professional than the array of Harry Potter fanfics I've been reading as of late, and I chose this particular one because it was one of Wal-Mart's few scant choices in the "paranormal romance" genre--my new thing--that wasn't categorized as "young adult." (If Stephenie Meyer taught me one thing, it was "Don't read teenage romance novels with an abundance of sexual tension unless all you want is to be teased through four novels.")
I'm a fairly inexperienced "paranormal romance" reader; I've always been interested in the "paranormal" genres, including sci-fi and horror, but in the past all the novels I've curiously picked up classified as "romance" sort of made me wanna vomit on my shoes.
Anne Rice was my first author love (famously known for her Vampire Chronicles), and growing up I also enjoyed the works of Stephen King, Michael Crichton, and an author named Timothy Zahn who wrote several engrossing Star Wars novels.
In my early twenties (not all that long ago, really), I was introduced to the worlds of Harry Potter, Sookie Stackhouse, & others, and I always enjoyed the romance in the novels I was reading, but I was never one of those romance-novel types of girl (despite the fact that I seem to have a natural affinity for writing sex scenes).
That all changed for me when I was introduced to Twilight, which opened up the world of paranormal romance to me, starting with the fabulous J.R. Ward: Her Jason Statham-style action and fighting sequences sort of counterbalanced the cheesy romance aspect (and these are not young adult novels; no teasing here), thereby proving that maybe I am a romance novel type of girl after all and never even knew it--especially when it involves big, manly, beefcake sex-god vampires (as opposed to the sparkly, pretty-boy variety).
Which is all leading up to my review: So as I was saying, I was craving something on the paranormal front that doesn't involve Snape and Hermione getting it on in detention or Ron behaving like a jackass, so I picked up--gasp!--as actual novel as a reprieve from my fanfic rut, and I wasn't disappointed.
The first novella in the book, "Bleeding Heart," is apparently a sort of "bridge" between Michelle Rowen's first(?) novel, Nightshade, and her next. I think. I'd never even heard of Michelle Rowen before, so I'm not entirely sure. Nevertheless, my ignorance didn't prevent me from being able to read it as a stand-alone; after just a couple of pages, I was caught up enough for the novella to make sense: Like the Twilight novels, "Bleeding Heart" is told from the first-person POV of the heroine of the tale, Jill, who had a sort of "weapon" against vampires inserted into her bloodstream. One taste of her blood, and vamps explode into fire and ash. The downside: It's killing her.
Serving as her protector and love interest is Declan, a half-human, half-vampire who hunts vampires (vamps in this universe are almost like zombies) for a living. Declan is a big, muscled, scarred man (very reminiscent of J.R. Ward's Zsadist) who is under the influence of some sort of serum that keeps his part vampire nature at bay (reminiscent of J.R. Ward's Rhevenge).
I don't want to spoil it for those who want to read it, but suffice it to say that it was very well-written and superbly executed. In just eighty-seven pages there was action, sex, plot, and a little bit of romance (not enough to be vomit-inducing). The main character, Jill, is witty and sarcastically hilarious, Declan is irresistibly broken, and the plot and action reminded me a bit of the Blade and Underworld movies: not your typical "romance" novels, but that's a good thing. I'll definitely be checking out Nightshade when I have the opportunity.