Blood Lines, by Eileen Wilks (Berkley, 2007)

In an alternate world where magic is real, werewolves have gone public, and the FBI has an entire section devoted to dealing with supernatural problems, troubleshooting agents don’t come any better than Lily Yu or Cynna Weaver. Lily, who can detect all sorts of magic with a simple touch, is mate-bonded to one of the most powerful werewolves in America, Rule Turner. Cynna’s a magically-Gifted woman with a dark past and talents whose limits she has yet to discover. Along with the enigmatic, independent sorcerer Cullen Seaborne, this oddball team of friends is assigned to investigate the case of a lifetime. Demons are appearing on Earth, and killing targets seemingly at random. When a pattern emerges, however, it could threaten the stability of the werewolf clans, and the entire world. Now our heroes must fight the mastermind behind these demons, navigate the treacherous politics of the werewolves, and come out in one piece. And maybe, just maybe, Cullen and Cynna will find a little time amidst the chaos to spend together, where they can explore a growing attraction to one another.

I was drawn to Blood Lines by its vibrant, sexy cover, and an intriguing premise, for the most part. To be honest, these paranormal/urban fantasy romances have become dime a dozen for the most part, so I wasn’t exactly holding high hopes for this one. I expected a good, fun read, with some action, some romance, and maybe a slightly different take on the “supernaturals walk among us . . . and boy, are they sexy!” and that’s pretty much what I got. To her credit, Wilks delivered thoroughly on the character interaction, the action and adventure, and the internal politics. I certainly had very little to complain about in those regards. Cynna and Lily are both wonderfully complex leading characters, and Rule and Cullen both fulfilled their roles with dutiful attention. The meat of the story (and there were several intertwining plotlines of consequence) really overshadowed both the existing romance between Lily and Rule, and the newly-formed one between Cynna and Cullen. The characters played well off one another, but the romantic interest was, while present, pleasantly underplayed, which helps to bridge that gap between paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

The magic system shows promise, though in my experience, it didn’t feel explain thoroughly enough, nor did much of the unique social setting that drove the story. And therein lies my major complaint, and not one that is exactly this book’s fault: this is the third in a series. It follows Tempting Danger and Mortal Danger, neither of which were conveniently available when I picked this one up. And unfortunately, a lot of the backstory that influences this book, as well as the Lily/Rule romance, was established in those books. I can only wish that the publishers had seen fit to release the precursors to this book, or that Wilks had taken the time to explain some more of the backstory in depth. All we got were tantalizing mentions of what’s gone before. Normally, I wouldn’t complain about this, recommending to any first-time reader that they start at the beginning of the series, but this one leapt like an orphan onto the shelves, with a different trade dress and style of cover (one that’s much more eye-catching than the previous books) and a title that doesn’t suggest any connection to a series. These are the things one has to be aware of when leaping into the middle of a series.

Addressing Blood Lines as a standalone book, then, I found that it’s quite enjoyable, and sure to entertain, but it lacks a little something that’s hard to name, that would give it the power to properly stand on its own. As part of a series, it would make a great continuation to the story. As my introduction to Wilks’ world, it left me with questions. However, I can’t fault her writing style, or her ability to keep up a fast-paced story with plenty of danger and intrigue, and I certainly wouldn’t rule out reading more of her books, should I run across them. If you like urban fantasy, you can do far worse than Blood Lines. And if you like paranormal romance, this will probably be right up your alley.

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