Review: One Foot in the Grave, Jeaniene Frost

Book blurb
You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide . . .

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won’t let her get away again.

Review
I may never complain about my family again…

This is the second in the Night Huntress series, and once again we meet Cat Crawfield, who is no longer slaying rogue vampires on her own – she is doing it for the government.

Not a lot has changed in the five years has past since she ducked out on her vampire lover and tutor, Bones. Sure she now heads her team in her special FBI division, having several others working with her now, but she is still kicking ass, killing vamps and dealing with her mother and her mother’s obsession.

Now, however, there is someone out there trying to assassinate her. Bones to the rescue.

Okay, not the rescue because Frost’s Cat is more than capable of saving herself, but it doesn’t hurt to have a hunky vampire at your back. Or in your bed.

Following Cat as she juggles old boyfriends, assassination attempts, workplace romance, MAJOR family issues is a very fun ride. There is plenty of action both in and out of the bedroom. Definitely a series that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with a stake close to hand.

While I would suggest you pick up a copy of this book, I recommend that you start with the first book in the series, Halfway To The Grave. The third installment, At Grave’s End was just released (December 30) and once I’m finished reading it myself, I will post a review.

Rating
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Urban fantasy versus Paranormal romance

Are you confused about the difference, because I know I am!

Essentially, urban fantasy is fiction, set in a modern setting, that has a supernatural ‘fantasy’ element to it. Good examples are Charles De Lint’s Newford stories, Tanya Huff’s Blood series, Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld stories, or Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. All fairly straightforward urban settings (some easily recognizable, like Toronto, Miami or Chicago), that just happen to be inhabited by vampires, fairies (or faeries as the case may be), werewolves or all manner of fantastical beasties.

Paranormal romances are fairly similar but the big divide occurs on the romance side: urban fantasy may have a bit but the focus isn’t it, while paranormal romance sits clearly on the side of more romance is good. So yes, the tale may be about a vampire living in a modern city, but in a PR book, said vampire is more interested in getting into your pants than any thing else.

(Okay, I’ll admit it: I am a reading snob. I don’t like the idea of being caught reading a ‘romance novel’. Single chick reading a romance novel: how cliche! I’d rather be ‘that older chick who clearly never grew up because she is still reading fantasy books’. So just because a book has a vampire in it doesn’t make it a fantasy novel. A romance novel with werewolves in is still a romance novel.)

The problem, as I see it, is that while those definitions may work in general they don’t necessarily work with how the publishers or writers define the books. Yes, I do understand that it is often the writer who decides which genre they fall in. Many, I am told, do this for one simple reason: money. Based on the genre categorization they can get more (or less) for their work. Which may explain why many authors bounced back and forth over the divide. Kelley Armstrong, for example, has her series listed as urban fantasy but some of the short stories – still based in that world – show up in paranormal romance anthologies. Simple economics for the writer. Confusing as heck for the reader.

Here are some examples of books I have read that I would have defined differently:

  • Keri Arthur’s Riley Jensen series. This has been listed as urban fantasy on Amazon, and in bookstores, yet I would argue this one falls firmly in the paranormal romance category. Riley is constantly juggling the many men (term used loosely) in her life as well as her work with the Directorate of Other Races. Perhaps it is deemed fantasy because of the several men she bounces between (rather than romance which tends to focus on one coupling), but when the majority of the novel focuses on love/sex rather than the base plot, I know which category I’d put it in. (That being said, Arthur is a fantastic writer and I always grab her books as soon as they come out).
  • For the longest time Yasmine Galernon’s Sisters of the Moon series was listed as paranormal romance, though I see that is slowly changing (at least on Amazon). Still, chances are if you are looking for these books in your local bookstore you are more likely to find them in the romance section. To my mind these are clearly urban fantasy. Sure there is a smooch fest (or two) but the core of the book is about the half-human, half-Fae sisters and their work for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency.
  • Then you have folks like Laurell Hamilton, whose Anita Blake series was clearly on the side of urban fantasy to start but gradually morphed over and would, I think, be best termed as paranormal erotica now. Her Meredith Gentry series started in paranormal erotica and is still firmly there today.

I am not sure where that leaves things. There is clearly a difference between the two genres, but it can be tricky to find sometimes. If you, like me, prefer urban fantasy (though don’t mind a sweaty snuggle or two as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the story), you may have to start trolling the romance section of bookstores from time to time. Even that can be hit and miss (and I have a stack of too-PR-for-me books to prove it). Or you can search sites like Amazon or Chapters.Indigo. Or talk to others who are interested in this. Or hit your local library.

Good luck.

Trying to get more books in before I have to take time off

44) On the Prowl, Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny. If you like urban fantasy/paranormal romance… get this book of novellas. Okay, so I am not sold on Sunny’s Mona Lisa series even after reading a couple of her novellas, but the other 3 tales… awesome! Big fan of Patricia Briggs’ series and really like the byplay between Charles and Anna in Alpha and Omega.

45) Birthright, Nora Roberts. Interesting premise; a child is kidnapped as a baby, never told she was adopted and suddenly stumbles on her birth family. Set this on top of the archeological find of the century. An enjoyable read, though I admit I picked this one up because of the whole archeological find aspect. And that wasn’t really explored – a ‘B’ story than gets relegated to ‘C’ level.

Enjoy it when fantasy authors take on important issues.

39) Summoned to Tourney, Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon. Sometimes earthquakes happen and sometimes the bad guys try and make them happen. A story from the beginning of the Bedlam Bard series and one of the good ones.

40) Wheels of Fire, Mercedes Lackey and Mark Shepherd. How I wish it were true that elves were there to rescue kids who were being abused. It would make the world a better place. Here the elves are not only trying to save a child from abuse, they are also taking on a radical religious cult. Another reason why I have rejected organized religion; there are far too many people in the world you use it to justify horror, abuse and violence against others. Oops, better not get onto that tangent…

41) Fire Me Up, Katie MacAlister. So not the book to read after a book about child abuse. It was just too fluffy and light. Needless to say; didn’t enjoy it much.

42) Sacred Ground, Mercedes Lackey. Clearly I needed to go back to one of my fave authors. This was about environmental and aboriginal issues. For not being Native, I think Misty did a great job. Of course neither am I so all I can say it that it felt good to me.

43) Over the Moon, Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Virginia Kantra, Sunny. Four paranormal romance novellas (in other words kissy kissy stuff with werewolves, Fae and other spookies). Interesting tales; liked MaryJanice Davidson’s best. Light, but the byplay between our two potential lovers was deliciously snarky.

More reading

35) Bloodfever, Karen Marie Moning. Not all Sidhe are good Sidhe. Heck, not even the good ones are all that great, as MacKayla Lane has found out. This is the 2nd in a series that is really shaping up well. Lots of twists and turns, with interesting characters.

36) Every Secret Thing, Laura Lippman. After reading The Last Place, I was keen for another Lippman book, but this one just didn’t resonate with me. Not sure why. It was good, with lots of twists, but something just… I dunno.

37) By a Spider’s Thread, Laura Lippman. I enjoyed this one much better than the last. Maybe it was because I already knew the characters, though one of the people in Every Secret Thing did make an appearance here. Like the last one, there were plenty of twists.

38 ) Hound the Falcon, Judith Tarr. When mysteries are leaving you feeling a little flat, do a switch! Pick up a fantasy novel – in this case a trilogy (all in one book so I’ll count them as 1) set in the Crusade period. With elves. Nice elves. And evil churchfolk (and some nice ones too). And kings and princes and saints. A nice break from reality…