Reviewette: First Blood Anthology, "Thicker Than Blood" by Meljean Brook
Four all-new stories of forbidden passion and dark desire.
You never forget your first blood...Susan Sizemore returns to the universe of her Laws of the Blood novels with a sizzling story of the relationship between a vampire enforcer and a werewolf.
Erin McCarthy's Sasha Checkikov flees the bright lights and dangerous slayers of Vegas for New Orleans, where she is saved by a vampire haunted by his past - and hungry for passion.
Set in the Vampire Babylon world, Chris Marie Green's story puts the bond between twin female vampires to the test when one of them falls for her prey.
Meljean Brook's vampire Annie Gallagher needs help to save a young human girl, but she doesn't expect the help to come from the FBI agent she loved - and had to give up - when she was transformed.
The Guardian Series Book Six
Jack Harrington knows he is being stalked. He continues to deceive the one who follows but he's soon shocked to discover that his stalker is none other the his deceased girlfriend, Annie Gallagher.
Six years ago, Jack had invested months of wooing Annie. Knowing her family's strong values, he wanted a ring on her finger before they made love for the first time. But all his time and preparation was brutally halted by her sudden death in a car accident. Jack, determined to never let the past repeat itself, met someone new within the first year of Annie's death and promptly proposes within weeks of the relationship. His fiance soon discovers what has happened to him and the relationship dies. Now for the past five years he's been on his own. Resigned from the FBI for digging into closed investigations that hinted to the supernatural, he is now on a personal quest to discover what happened to vanish more than hundred Philly residents without anyone batting an eye.
Annie Gallagher is the only vampire left alive in Philadelphia. The other 130 vampires in her community have disappeared, killed by a nephil - a demon housed in human skin. Indebted to the only people willing to take her in upon her transformation, Annie goes on a search for their human sister, Cricket. For two weeks she's been scouring the city, psychically touching thousands of minds looking for any sight of the girl with little luck and Annie is soon on the brink of madness. Without a consistent vampire food source, Annie has been forced to alternate her feeding with prepackaged blood and humans. The irony of her situation is that for the past six years she has been making a living executing those vampires who viewed humans as a food source and sometimes as an easy kill.
With the bloodlust building, Annie stakes out a bar in her old hometown of Northeast Philly. Memories of happiness and family flood her soul and sharpen her loneliness. That's when she spys her prey. A man, obviously inebriated, leaves the bar to walk home and Annie begins to stalk him. All the while she notices resemblances to the love of her life, the man she was forced to walk away from - Jack Harrington.
For the past six years Annie's life has been one of solitude. Due to the rejection of her human family, Annie never allowed herself to become too close to anyone in her vampire community. After being past around the community as a feeding partner and forced into sexual intimacy by the bloodlust, Annie had finally found sanctuary with a vampire couple who welcomed her to into their bed. Annie settles for seconds as the couple are deeply in love but she would rather have forced sexual intimacy with friends than a stranger. Now all that has been taken away and Annie's despair is great. Because of this emotional weakness, Annie allows Jack back into her life, if anything his FBI contacts may help in locating Cricket.
Now that Jack has found Annie, he refuses to let her go. She was the one for him and he sees her decision to ultimately stay away from him after her transformation as a fierce betrayal. Jack knows that she'll do anything to find Cricket and he uses this weakness to imerse himself back into her life.
I loved the subtle and slow way that Brook revealed the inner workings of these characters. Like the slow unfurrling of a flower, each pop of a pettle brought forth a new tidbit whether it be about Jack's or Annie's past or their gradual reconcilliation. It made the novella feel longer, deeper, captivating my interest right to the end. I wanted to know why Annie's human famly was no loger apart of her life. I wanted to know why Jack was no longer in the FBI. Answers were given slowly and sometimes in combination with a new question awaiting to be solved.
The only aspect of the story that left me wanting was the resolution of Cricket's disappearence. I thought there would be more participation by Annie with the Nephil, but still a wonderful installment to the Guardian Series.
Lost? Unable to Read the Series in Order? Check out The Guardian Series Primer!
Question for Meljean: I know that as an author, you're likely to get this question a lot but I think for readers in general, we're fascinated with not only your imagination, but your ability to form it into words. What was your inspiration for writing The Guardian Series?
There were a couple of things that happened all at the same time. One, I was taking a graduate class on John Milton's works, and reading (and re-reading) Paradise Lost. I love, love that poem -- especially the first books, when we see Lucifer's fall and the scenes in Hell. I was also writing some Batman and Wonder Woman fanfiction, and began to play with the idea of an alternate universe. Very quickly that story became much larger than fanfic, with the characters going far, far beyond their superhero inspiration. I scrapped that story and began again.
About that time, my editor -- who'd read and liked my fanfic -- asked if I was working on anything original. I sent her the story, and that became the Guardian series.
That's the basic origin, but the inspiration from the series really does draw from everywhere. I love playing with references to mythology or literature, movies, even video games -- and I'm the type of writer where if I see something that I think would make the story better or richer, I'll use it.