Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review of Rhyannon Byrd's Deadly is the Kiss

Title: Deadly is the Kiss (Grangers #1)
Author: Rhyannon Byrd
Publisher: HQN Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This is the first book I’ve read by Rhyannon Byrd, and if you’re new to her books as well this would be a good place to start. Deadly is the Kiss is the first in her Grangers series, a spin-off of her Primal Instincts paranormal romance series. While there were references to characters from the other series, you can easily follow along the action, and the story is for the most part self-contained.
At times Deadly is the Kiss felt like two different books – the first half was devoted to the fated mates connecting physically, while the second half was more action packed. I have to confess that I was a little turned off by how quickly the hero and heroine jumped into bed together, but I thoroughly enjoyed the second half, which kept me turning the pages.
Ashe Granger is a vampire warrior, and for the past year he’s been obsessed with learning why the Sabin family was imprisoned in the Wasteland, the vampire prison. He’s caught in the “burning,” a sign that he’s met his mate. Unfortunately that mate is Juliana Sabin, and the two have never gotten along. Ashe has tried to suppress the effects of the burning and is searching for a way to avoid spending a lifetime with a criminal, but when he meets an informant to learn more about Juliana’s imprisonment, he’s stunned to find Juliana sitting on a restaurant patio in London.
Juliana has managed to escape the Wasteland thanks to the efforts of a mysterious benefactor, and she needs Ashe’s help. Her family’s been targeted by assassins, and she has to prove that the charges against her family were false so the assassins can be called off. She resents having to ask Ashe for help, since the few times she’s seen him at the Wasteland he’s been a womanizer, but he’s the best and she needs all the help she can get. She never counted on his returning her secret attraction. But will he still help her when he learns the reason she and her family were imprisoned?
The second half of this book was fabulous. It’s action packed, and the pages just fly by. Each time Juliana and Ashe manage to escape the assassins sent to kill her, they find themselves in another dangerous situation and have to fight their way out. They’re also fighting the clock to find the evidence needed to save Juliana’s family, and while at first it seems obvious who the villain is, there are some intriguing twists at the end.
The chemistry between Juliana and Ashe is off the charts. Unfortunately, this chemistry results in an encounter in an elevator and 2 sex scenes all before my Kindle hit the 48% mark, which I found a bit off-putting. I suspect that for long-time fans of the Primal Instinct series, Juliana and Ashe are familiar secondary characters, establishing a history for the two which explains the leaps into the sack, but as a new reader of Ms. Byrd’s books, I was a little clueless about their history. I’m not sure I would have continued reading if I weren’t reading the book for review, which would be a shame, because the second half was much, much better.
Juliana is an interesting character, and at times I really liked her while other times I just wanted to smack some sense into her. Whenever there was a big fight scene, Ashe would tell her to stay put, yet she’d always venture out into the thick of things and then get into trouble. Frankly, she verged into TSTL territory, and I had to wonder if she’d never seen a horror movie. Besides, I kept wondering why she would seek out an experienced warrior then not listen to his advice.
The second half of the novel was good enough to make up for the squicky love scenes in the first half. In fact, I’ll be checking out some of the Primal Instinct books, because I enjoyed the flow of the last part of the book so much. As for future installments of the Granger series, I expect that Ashe’s brother will be the hero of the next novel and look forward to reading more about him.

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