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Bittersweet Blood by Nina Croft

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Order, Book 1
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 246 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Entangled Publishing via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.





Almost Very Entertaining

Out of everything in the world she could possible have, all Tara Collins wants is one thing: a normal life. A normal life that doesn't include twenty-two years of living a lonely, secluded existence with a sheltering, secretive aunt. A normal life to be found beyond the borders of a small town in the middle of Nowhere, England, one that includes friends, a formal education at an actual university, and breaking every single rule her aunt had drilled into her head as she was raising her.

To have that normal life, Tara has to first find out exactly who she is, but for that she needs professional help. Five minutes after meeting private investigator Christian Roth, Tara has no doubt he can help her find the truth about her identity. She's less certain, however, that she can afford the answers.

From the moment Christian catches the tantalizing scent of Tara Collins he wants her. In over five hundred years as a vampire, he's never smelled anything quite like her, certainly not anything human. And if nothing else, his senses tell him Tara is very human.

Of course, that begs the question of why demons are trying to kill her.

Delving into her murky and suspect past, Christian is forced to face one grim fact. It's no longer who she is that matters. It's what she is. Unfortunately, the answer to that puzzle will definitely kiss goodbye any hopes of her having a normal life. Right before it kills her.

~*~

Even after giving it some thought, I'm not totally sure how I feel about this book. On one hand, it's old school vampire romance, which I've always enjoyed. On the other, the plot was predictable to the extreme and neither the world, the characters, nor the narrative itself had much in the way of depth or detail. I even found the dialogue painfully pedestrian in places.

As far as the story goes, it wasn't bad, it just didn't bring anything new to the table, and while the characters had their moments, there were also several times I could have cheerfully throttled both of them. By the halfway mark, if Tara complained one more time about wanting a normal life, I would have been thrilled had Piers just eaten her and been done with it.

Still, I managed to like them well enough, and I was particularly fond of how Croft keeps her vamps from being paragons of virtue. They're not evil exactly, but they're sure not fluffy bunnies, either. They fit comfortably into that gray area where I find the most interesting characters in fiction. With more detail and definition, they could have been really spectacular.

Despite my annoyance with Tara's perpetual insistence on a normal life, she was my favorite of the two main characters. She had a nifty habit of being pointedly sarcastic, irreverent, and dismissive of danger. It didn't always balance out the moments when she came off as an insipid victim, but there was enough there to keep me interested in what happened to her. Christian was a fairly typical alpha male, but his tendency to make decisions based on his opinion of Tara's best interests is a hot button of mine and kept me from really embracing him as a romantic lead.

One of the more frustrating aspects of the read was the unrealized potential. The secondary characters were interesting and diverse, but without really having anything to do besides stand around and glower, or pop in and out when the action was low, they didn't get a chance to really add much to the read. The predictable plot could still have been fully entertaining if the climax hadn't been so abrupt and anticlimactic and the resolution so odd. The romance could have been hot and sexy and completely satisfying if the main characters had a bit more to say to each other that went beyond the surface.

Too many could have beens and not enough was was my biggest problem, and it kept me from fully enjoying the read. There was absolutely nothing that was so egregious that I was totally turned off, but neither was their anything specific that wowed me. I was mostly entertained, and the book was a lot of fun at times. Just not quite often enough.

Quotables:
"I love you," he said, and she went still at his words. "I might not have mentioned it yesterday, but I wanted you to know. I've never loved before. I'm new to this. I just hope I get it right."

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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
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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