Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports, Book 2)
by Cherie Priest
Review by Gayle Surrette
Spectra Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345520623
Date: 06 September 2011 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Hellbent begins a few months after the end of Bloodshot and Raylene Pendle finds herself now living with two young human children, Pepper and Domino, a blind vampire, Ian Stott, as well as a close friendship with a drag queen/Navy Seal, Adrian deJesus. For a vampire who has lived and worked alone for over eighty years, this is a big change.
Raylene is a thief, one who specializes in acquiring items of value wanted by some very rich people. It's a lucrative job that allows Raylene to live well and prepare for the many long years that she intends to live. It also allowed her to buy another warehouse and renovate it for the children and Ian, when her home and old warehouse were found by a group who wanted to capture supernatural creatures and experiment on them. It was this group that started the chain of events in Bloodshot that brought Raylene, Ian, and Adrian together.
In Hellbent, there are a number of threads that seem totally unrelated but, in the way of such things, they all pull together. Raylene is hired to retrieve some bones worth a lot of money to the magical community. Adrian and Raylene are teaming up to finally track down his sister, a vampire who was deafened by the same research group that blinded Ian. Raylene is also designated to help find out what happened to a visiting dignitary sent to the Altanta House who reportedly committed suicide almost immediately after arriving.
The various plot threads weave in and out, but the tension remains high. Very much a thriller as the reader tries to figure out what's going to happen next or why did that just happen. Characters are fully developed and the plotting is strong, making this a very enjoyable thriller that maintains a good pace and delivers a surprising and satisfying ending.
While focused on the jobs that must be performed, the story is also about families – the ones you are born into and the ones that you make for yourself. Raylene is a loner who escaped the House that originally claimed her. She was determined to stay free of entanglements and relationships but, even when this book begins, she's collected a group of people – vampire and human – that she cares about. In Hellbent, she learns even more about herself and what she truly wants from her undead life.