Val Shapiro: She’s half human and half demon (succubus to be exact). She gets thrown out of her mom’s house and has to find a job, fast. She does so with the San Antonio Special Crimes Unit (the SCU and they are the Sucizzies) who specialize in the paranormal. Vampires most specifically at the moment. She becomes partners with Dan and they begin to investigate the recent upswing in Vampire killings. She is hating on her succubus part but in the end discovers that she needs to embrace her succubus and not surpress it.
Dan Sullivan: Detective in the SCU. He sees Val one night take out a vamp and he gives her his card. She calls him after getting kicked out of her parents home and he facilitates her getting a job working with his unit. They become partners and he seems attracted to Val. But he is totally afraid of her demon part too.
Fang: Part hellhound and all adorable and snarky. Val finds him and he becomes her dog and protector. Turns out Micah sent him to Val. Fang can communicate telepathically with the demons and has a killer sense of smell.
Jen: Val’s younger sister. She wants to be just like Val. She enlists in the blood donor movement to find out information for Val but that plan backfires when she overhears Lily’s plans to use Alejandro and get tons of power and then oust him.
Alejandro: Leads a movement to peacefully coexist with humans. It is unclear for most of the book if he is sincere or not. One of his staff is the one orchestrating all the ugly events in the story including Jen’s enthrallment and Rick’s kidnapping (and planned turning) and he appears to have been sincere in the end.
Lily Armstrong: Dan’s ex. And now a vamp. She is cold and turns out to be the bad guy. Val beheads her in the end.
Gwen: Dan’s sister and Val’s roommate. She’s a nurse who knows about the vamps.
Lucas Blackburn. Visited with Rick, Val’s step dad, and told Rick and Val’s mom about how to control the succubus side of Val. Micah is his son. We discover he is dead and Micah has taken over as head of the Demon Underground.
Micah: Part incubus. Leader of the Demon Underground. Helps the SCU anonymously until Val figures it out then he helps out in the (relative) open.
Main premise: The story here is that we have Val Shapiro a vampire slayer. She is part succubus and after an evening out hunting (which she does to help control the demon’s hunger and desires) where her younger sister tagged along by hiding out in the back of the car, she gets kicked out of her house. Her mother and step father don’t want her sister to be in danger so Val has to move out. Too young, broke, alone, and unskilled to have any real ideas of what to do, she calls the cop she met the night before and asks if they need her help. She gets a job for the SCU which is a special unit designed to deal with the supernatural. It seems that vampire drainings and killings are on the rise. There is a movement by at least some vamps to mainstream and they have started blood banks and only drink from volunteers. The leader of this movement, Alejandro seems to be sincere but Val and her new partner Dan are skeptical. Then Val’s sister Jen goes missing. It appears that she has gotten herself mixed up in the movement and not everyone in the movement agrees with the message Alejandro is showing to the public. But is he really a good guy or is he the leader of the big bad group of vampires? Val sets out to save her sister and then another family member disappears. She has to get to the bottom of the crime by the vampires and save her family.
Jen helped create a reputation for Val and she became known as (and feared) the Slayer. Turns out that Lily was planning on using Alejandro to get the movement popular then she was going to take over because she believed in different things. She was enthralling Jen. Rick and Jen get rescued, Lily looses her head, and Dan and Val seem to be ok.
Locations: San Antonio.
Other Important Things to Remember for Later: I don’t think there are a ton of plot points that will be necessary for remembering later. Mostly I think we need to remember who the characters are. Jen really wants to be like her big half sister Val but their mom doesn’t want that. Val has moved out of her home because her mom and step dad told her she needed ot to protect Jen. But Rick seems to think that he can help manage mom and have Val be part of the family. This seems to be a result of Val rescuing him from a bunch of whacked vamps, one of which wanted him “blessed” (aka turned). Dan seems to have gotten some info from Micah and seems to better understand Val’s demon part (which Val refers to as Lola). Micah sent Fang to Val and is the leader of the Demon Underground.
Review: For starters it felt like I was reading one of my PNR books given how often the succubus side flared and the feelings of lust that came with. I wondered exactly how this fit into the YA genre so I ended up looking it up. Goodreads lists this as a book which spans the gap between ya and adult. While the main character was 18, it was really just a short step away from the PNR adult stuff. There wasn’t really anything other then some kissing and the discussion of lust but the fact that we have a part succubus demon means that there is a lot of discussion of lust.
The story here is that we have Val Shapiro, a vampire slayer. She is part succubus and after an evening out hunting (which she does to help control the demons hunger and desires) where her younger sister tagged along by hiding out in the back of the car, she gets kicked out of her house. Her mother and step father don’t want her sister to be in danger so Val has to move out. Too young, broke, alone, and unskilled to have any real ideas of what to do, she calls the cop she met the night before and asks if they need her help. She gets a job for the SCU which is a special unit designed to deal with the supernatural. It seems that vampire drainings and killings are on the rise. There is a movement by at least some camps to mainstream and they have started blood banks and only drink from volunteers. The leader of this movement, Alejandro seems to be sincere but Val and her new partner Dan are skeptical. Then Val’s sister Jen goes missing. It appears that she has gotten herself mixed up in the movement and not everyone in the movement agrees with the message Alejandro is showing to the public. But is he really a good guy or is he the leader of the big bad group of vampires? Val sets out to save her sister and then another family member disappears. She has to get to the bottom of the crime by the vampires and save her family.
I liked that this book seemed to stand alone. While I know that there are more in this series the plot here stood on it’s own and there was no crazy big cliff hanger at the end. There is room to continue with the world and the characters (obviously since there are already 2 more and a third on the way) but it was a solid story all on it’s own too. We got a nice little world with the demons and police who are aware of the supernatural and the idea that some of the vamps want to mainstream. Not that that is anything unique. I could rattle off at least a dozen books, especially if I include the PNR stuff, where this is the case. But unique here is the setting (Sn Antonio, really? What vamp in their right mind would pick such a sunny warm dry place? But what do I know?) and the dog. While I have read other books with very protective hellhounds, Fang is in a league all his own. He is TOTALLY AWESOME and he speaks to Val in all caps. I loved him. It took a mere three lines from Fang before I fell head over heels for him. His snark and ‘tude is the perfect compliment to Val and her insecurities. Dan is pretty cool, Ramirez too. While I do think that Dan goes a little too bananas to come around as easily as he does after he discovers the truth about Val, I realize that a reader can’t have everything most of the time.
I think there was evidence of a struggle here though. For someone merely 18 our main character is awfully mature. Without the mention of her age in the beginning it would have been more believable if we thought she was slightly older and still living at home for some reason. And she took to police work without any training a little too easy. the story occurs over the course of less then a month but she’s already a pro at investigating and stuff (not to mention, I am writing this 6 chapters into the second book where it is confirmed that we are talking about a very short time frame (although there is an inconsistency in the next book with respect to the amount of time passed, but oh well…) where her whole world changes but Val’s totally one of the gang with the demons now, and comfortable? It is a little too fast, even for fiction). The comments about her taking martial arts but not having to stick with themvey long because she just understood and could emulate the masters just from watching… Well, I get that she was home schooled and taught some things that way. But even for fiction it was all a little too easy and she took to the new job a little too easy. Seeing a few more mistakes on her part and having a little time pass for her to train and be trained would have made it feel more “real”.
The chemistry that supposedly existed between her and Dan felt a little like the author was reaching. And since it felt like the author went to great lengths to let us know that there is supposed to be a real attraction there and it’s not just the succubus, I needed more interaction and dialogue between them. The overall scheme of relationships among all of the characters felt pretty solid though. I like the prephieral characters and hope we see more of them. I also really like Shade and the concept behind his demon nature. I can’t express enough how much I want more Fang! I think he needs his own book. And I hope we learn more about where that little mutt came from.
The writing wasn’t award winning as it was a little inconsistent (as already noted). And there were literary elements that were missing which could have definitely improved ont the overall experience (better foreshadowing, etc.). A little more in the way of setting the scene sometimes would have been nice. And the action was inconsistent too. It sometimes felt like two different people writing the action scenes. But they were still pretty fun. And the scene where Shade healed Dan was one of the best scenes from a writing perspective – I got more details and it was much easier to picture that in my head then other scenes were.
But, I am nitpicking. To me the most important question is “did I enjoy what I read?” regardless of anything else, if the answer to that is yes, then to me the book was a good one. Here, my answer to that question is a resounding yes! While far from unique, this was a fun little read and I am looking forward to the next one in the series!