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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Susan Sizemore: LAWS OF THE BLOOD SERIES


Author:  Susan Sizemore
Series:  LAWS OF THE BLOOD 
Plot Type:  SMR
Ratings:  V4, S4, H2
Publisher and Titles: Pocket Star
         The Hunt (10/1999)
         Partners (11/2000)
         Companions (10/2001)
         Deceptions (9/2002)
         Heroes (9/2003)
         "Cave Canem" in First Blood (8/2008)
         Personal Demon (9/2012)
         Blood2Blood (4/2013)

     This post includes an overview of the series world-building and a review of the newest book:  Personal Demon:

           WORLD-BUILDING          
     Although each book includes a couple's developing relationship, the plots do not focus entirely on those interconnections, and the relationships do not have traditionally happy endings. 

     These vampires call themselves strigoi, and they live in nests in urban areas. The strict, old-world Strigoi Council assigns enforcers in each city to reinforce the council's many Laws of the Blood, the stringent rules by which all of the strigoi must live. Each nest is headed by an older, powerful vampire, who governs and protects a human "companion," several young vamps, and a handful of human "slaves." The companion is the leader's blood partner, lover, and assistant; the slaves are the leader's minions. As soon as the young vamps mature, they are required by the Laws of the Blood to leave their maker's nest and start their own nest. Companions eventually become vampires and must also leave the nest because the Council's rules mandate that two vampires cannot be lovers. This leads to a great deal of heartbreak among the vampire/companion couples, who are usually together for a long period of time and who grow to love one another deeply. 

     A general story arc for the series involves various attempts by the companions and the younger vamps to ignore and/or get rid of the Council's restrictive laws. The Enforcers make sure that vampires don't kill humans, and they are the only ones allowed to kill other vampires. Each book tells the SMR story of an enforcer and his companion. Plots are complex and include a revolt by several strigoi against their Enforcer, the serial murders of vampires, a demon-sorcerer plot to take over all of the strigoi, and a disgruntled companion's attempt to take down an enforcer. Book 5 (Heroes) brings together many characters from the previous four books for a shared adventure in Las Vegas.

Here is a book-by-book list of the happy couples: 

   > The Hunt: Los Angeles Enforcer Selim & his companion, Siri
   > Partners:  Seattle Enforcer Char McCairn & vampire hunter Jebel Haven
   > Companions: Chicago Enforcer & dhampire Istvan (aka Steve) and homicide detective Selena Crawford 
   > Deceptions:  Washington, D.C., Enforcer Olympias & military man, Mike Falconer
   > "Cave Canem":  Dan Conover, Enforcer and Protector of Hellhounds, & Tess Sirella, werewolf witch; Vampires Valentine and Yevgeny
   > Personal Demon: Council Enforcer Christopher Bell & witch, Ivy Bailey 

     Click HERE to read excerpts from the LAWS OF THE BLOOD novels.

         BOOK 7:  Personal Demon          
     As the story opens, Enforcer Christopher Bell as been sent by the Strigoi Council to Chicago to investigate rumors of a possible revolt. As he is out patrolling one night, he comes across Ivy Bailey, a witch who is part of Chicago's human vampire hunting squad. She is following a vampire who is trying to glamour a human into submission, and someone else is following her. Christopher sweeps in to get her away from her unfriendly follower, and their relationship begins. 

     Chicago's human vampire hunters have been organized under the Covenant, an agreement between the Chicago vampires and local psychically talented humans in an effort to save human lives and encourage peaceful coexistence between humans and vampires. Of course, the Covenant is in direct violation of the Council's Laws of the Blood, which place vampires at the top of the social order and humans at the bottom (as prey), so when Christopher finds out what's going on, he is at first determined to stop it.

     Meanwhile, Ivy has been tasked by her witchy family with the investigation of a series of murders of psychically talented humans that began just before Christopher came to town. As it turns out, Ivy's heritage contains more than just witch genes, thus complicating both her investigation and her budding romance with Christopher.

     The story is written in the third person, and we see things from the points of view of a number of characters, mostly Christopher and Ivy, but also the demonic villains, each of whom is inhabited by the dark soul of a real serial killer. (You'll recognize the real killers as soon as you hear their first names: Jack, Ted, John, and Dick.) The fact that the villainous Jack is really Jack the Ripper brings back dark memories and dreams to Christopher, who killed the original Jack in London more than 100 years ago. Now, Jack is back, and Christopher's lady love is in his sights.

     This plot is less complex than most of the stories in this series, but still has compelling action and plenty of love/lust. The romantic couple presents a nice contrast between Christopher's Victorian prudishness and Ivy's emphasis on modern-day gender roles, and that's where some of the light humor come into the story. 

     If you haven't read any of the books in this series, you could read this as a stand-alone, but you'd be better off starting back at the beginning with The Hunters. This is a perfect opportunity to read through a solid, established series without having to wait a year between books.

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