The heroine of the series is Madison Rose, a young woman with a tragic past filled with abusive foster homes. Madison lives in the Los Angeles area, where she is going to school and trying to make a successful life for herself. When the first book begins, Madison has no idea that vampires exist. On a recent blog, Jaffarian describes Madison's moral code as follows:
In this world, vampires work hard to keep their existence a secret from the mortal world. Most of their characteristics conform to the usual vampire mythology. They subsist on blood (both animal and human), sleep during the day, have extra strength and speed, are extremely wealthy, and are preoccupied with sex. In California, the vampire leader is Samuel La Croix, a centuries-old vampire who came into the area about forty-five years ago and either killed or banished the vamps who were living in the "traditional" manner (i.e., murdering humans right and left). Under Samuel's leadership, vampire life goes rather smoothly, with with human blood being taken only from willing donors. Humans are called "beaters" in this series—for the beating of their hearts. Supporting characters are mostly members of Samuel's vampire community, including Doug and Dodie Dedham, a married vampire couple who adopt Madison (in book 1) and give her a place in their home.
BOOK 1: Murder in Vein
BOOK 2: Baited Blood
As the story begins, Madison has settled into her new lifestyle, living with the Dedhams and working for Samuel and the Council. She and Notchey have shared a few kisses, and she and Colin have flirted with one another, but Madison is not in a hurry to get into a romantic relationship. Her natural instinct is to withhold herself from close relationships of any kind. The plot in this book revolves around the vampires' search for a serial killer who is dumping dead or nearly dead vamps on the properties of the local vamps, including the Dedhams. As the investigation proceeds, Madison learns more and more about Samuel, Colin, and the Dedhams. She also learns some horrific facts about Notchey's past. When Doug and Colin's maker (Annabelle, aka Ann Hayes) breezes into town, she is the main suspect in the killings, but then Madison discovers some new and astonishing information that blows the case wide open.
Although Jaffarian's overall premise is inventive (attractive, fragile human woman working intimately with powerful vampire bigwig), her character development leaves much to be desired. Madison's words and actions are all over the place. One minute she's a blushing, embarrassed, naive girl, and the next minute she's bitch slapping an ancient vampire and threatening to stake her. Madison's character is completely unpredictable—and in a head-shaking way, not in an interesting way. The same holds true for the supporting characters. In her interior monologues, Madison frequently points out that vampires are violent and unpredictable creatures, but when they are part of a series, the reader needs to begin to understand their emotions and motivations so that their actions have some meaning—some context. The characterization is so bumpy that it definitely interferes with my enjoyment of the series. The plots are O.K.—fairly well developed with not too many loop holes. But the ending of book 2 was pretty lame. I can't go into details without spoiling the story, but I can say that when the otherwise intelligent vamps foolishly allow Madison to go off on her own for the climactic scene, this reader was muttering, "Oh no, no way!" That entire scene was entirely unbelievable for me.
Jaffarian also writes the ODELIA GREY MYSTERY SERIES and a new paranormal series: THE GHOST OF GRANNY APPLE MYSTERY SERIES. Click HERE to go to her blog.