After finishing Blood Roses I had to sit down and really think about how to write this review and what rating I wanted to settle on. I very much enjoyed the first book in the series, Blood Shadows. Dark, very well written, with fully fleshed out characters that were so intriguing. I also enjoyed the world building and found the plot to be suspenseful. While the first book dealt with humans, their law enforcement and control of what they call the “third species”, book two delves deeper into the vampire culture. It’s just as dark, the hero is more of an anti-hero, but the love story between Leila and Caleb, while hot, is not a tender romance.
Our heroine is a witch who gets a call from her wayward sister asking for help. To help she must venture into vampire territory and rescue her from one of the most dangerous vampires alive. Leila is a witch, but she’s also something more, a fabled serryn whose blood is lethal to vampires. She’s kept what she really is from her sisters and has tried to live as quiet a life as possible, surrounded by books, always staying in the upper crust part of town where she has less of a chance of encountering the things that scare her the most. When she gets to Blackthorn she must save the life of a vampire who has drunk a woman to death and as a result now lies near death himself. She is terrified of his brother Caleb and of what he might do to her and her sister if she can’t perform her duties. When she succeeds Caleb realizes she is much more powerful than she leads everyone to believe. They start out as enemies and soon find out there is much more between them than what they originally thought. They are both instrumental parts in a prophecy that will ultimately decide the fate of both vampires and humans.
Caleb and Leila play a dangerous game. Their entire relationship from beginning to end is based on who can outsmart the other and which one of them will be the winner in their struggle for control. He is stronger and in a position of power, but Leila is desperate to save her life. Caleb is loyal to his species and has spent a lifetime tracking down and killing serryns. He has a terribly violent past with them, both on the giving and receiving end. Leila has been raised on the hatred of all things vampire and she also has had some pretty brutal past experiences. There is no trust in their relationship, no softness and almost all the kindness shown is to get something in return. They have a scary sort of chemistry and as a result some pretty intense sexual encounters. Caleb is cruel and taunting and harsh in his treatment of her and yet I kept wondering what he would do next.
Almost the entire book takes place in his penthouse above his club where he is holding her prisoner and happens over just a few days. While I love a darker romance, I wanted there to be at least some tenderness between the two of them. There were times I felt they were on the cusp of something and then they would revert back to the manipulations and mind games. I just never knew what they actually felt for each other. Caleb is loyal to his brother and the vampires and is willing to sacrifice Leila. He never moves away from this belief. Even at the end. Leila is loyal to her sisters and the human race and isn’t willing to give in either. The supposed HEA confused me a bit, and left me unsatisfied. It didn’t feel authentic and their professions of love almost unwilling. I needed more, a little gentleness, some deeper commitment to their future, just something more. An epilogue would have been much appreciated.
One thing I will say, the world building is fantastic. Vampires and werewolves are so over used in both paranormal romance and urban fantasy that it’s unusual to find a new series containing both that captures my attention so fully. I can see how Ms. Pryor is bringing plot threads and characters together to create a very interesting story arc. The H/h from the first book are mentioned, and I foresee them playing a pivotal role in upcoming installments. The ending, or lack of one really, of Blood Roses leads me to believe that Caleb and Leila will also be a major part in how this series story arc plays out. Regardless of how unsatisfied I was with the ending to Leila and Caleb’s book, I am still entranced with this world and am looking forward to the next release. Book three comes out this fall and I will most definitely be putting it on my to read list. Final Grade- B-/C+
“I don’t know if letting you live is the most selfish or selfless act I’ve ever committed. I don’t know if you’ll by my salvation or my damnation, but I can’t be without you, Leila.”