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Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Series: Night Huntress, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 384 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1)
The Cat and Bones Saga Starts Here

Girl meets boy.

Girl tries to stake boy.

Boy knocks girl unconscious, chains her up, makes her a deal, then trains and taunts her until she loves him.

They live...more or less...ever after.

The end. And the beginning.

As a BtVS fan from way back, I'll never forget just how much I enjoyed picking up Frost's first book in the Night Huntress series. It reminded me of the series but where the series disappointed in some aspects, this book didn't. It's been almost four years since then, long before I started reviewing books, and I'm rereading the series before I start the newest release, One Grave at a Time. It's like visiting old friends.

Old friends with fangs and a blood fetish, but still.

I'd forgotten, though I don't know how I could have, just how much like Spike (my BtVS fav) Bones is. At least on the surface. Bleached platinum hair, British accent, chiseled cheekbones...and after a gift from Cat, he even had the leather duster. Bones has never been the wanker Spike could often be, though. Yeah, as much as I adored Spike and was all about the Buffy and Spike 'ship, I knew that Spike acted like an idiotic adolescent most of the time. I mean, come on, he chained Buffy up in a cave to manipulate her actions and emotions!

Oh...wait...

Ha! Anyway, Bones is just more mature, more self-confident, more respected, more feared, and an all around bigger badass than Spike ever was. Sorry Buffy.

Eh, I never liked her anyway.

Cat and Bones are sort of like the more improved Buffy and Spike. Cat's the one-of-a-kind vampire killer, Bones is the vampire who loves her. Cat's not a Slayer, she's a half-vampire/half-human hybrid, and the vampire world is a hell of a lot more complex than anything we saw on BtVS, but the similarities are there. And at the beginning, I didn't like Cat any more than I ever liked B. Cat was judgmental, hypocritical, ignorant, and had an inflated sense of self (sound familiar?). Having Bones show up in her life did more than keep her alive, it made her palatable, because once she stopped with all the prejudice and started to help Bones out, she was tolerable.

It's almost funny, just how much I remember adoring this book the first time I read it. I gave it a five star rating way back then and added it to my list of favorite series. I didn't have a whole lot of experience with this genre four years ago. In the interim, I've read - literally - over a thousand books in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres. Now that I have read so much, have had my reading preferences honed so sharply (and had so much time away from my BtVS roots), my overall opinion was destined to be slightly less favorable than it was originally.

Maybe rating and reviewing on the reread isn't fair to the book...then again, fair and I have just a passing acquaintance.

The book isn't perfect. It has moments that are cliched and - if you're a fan of BtVS like I was - too familiar. Still, I liked it, even this time around. The story was solid, the development of the characters well-executed and realistic, and the balance between the romance of Cat and Bones and the external conflict of the blood traffickers was nicely handled. I didn't like Cat as much as I remembered, she got on my nerves more than once, but I loathed her mother just as much on the reread as I did the first time around.

I've always loved Bones. And always will.

True, I wasn't wowed by the plot and the characters seemed too similar to those in the BtVS-verse to impress me as being unique in their own right. So what? I still love how Cat's character matured throughout the book - she wasn't perfect by any means, even at the end, but I wanted to stake her far less frequently by then. I wish, as I did when I first read this book, that Whedon and Co. had done for Buffy what Frost did for Cat.

Here's the thing, though. The Night Huntress series is the only one I've come across in all this time that features a female lead and the male love interest in such a perfect partnership of relationship and duty. It is the preeminent feature, the thing that makes this series so damned appealing to me, the one thing that separates it from the pack. This series has Cat and Bones, together, working, fighting, and always loving each other. Back to back, front to front, and most importantly, side by side. This is the book that started it all. This is the series to experience it all.

And that pretty much says it all.

The Night Huntress Series:

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1) One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 2) At Grave's End (Night Huntress, Book 3)
Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Book 4) This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5) One Grave at a Time: A Night Huntress Novel

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Ratings Guide

Here is a rundown of what the star ratings mean to me! It's not a perfect system, so you may see me add in a .5 star here and there if my impression of the book falls somewhere between these:

5 Stars - Loved it
4 Stars - Liked it
3 Stars - It's okay
2 Stars - Didn't like it
1 Star - Hated it

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2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Tracy has read 22 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Zero at the BoneHead Over HeelsLord of the WolfynIn Total SurrenderA Win-Win PropositionNorth of Need

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