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Key to Conflict by Talia Gryphon
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441015030
Date: 29 May 2007 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Gillian Key is a psychologist who treats paramortals: vampires, ghosts, were or shapeshifters… She's also a retired US Marine Corp Capt specializing in extractions, surveillance, and assassination. She's actually a combination psychologist/military specialist and while she's in the Carpathian mountains to treat a vampire, Count Aleksei Rachlav, and ghost, Dante Montefiore, she's checking on rumors of a vampire rebellion or take over. Already we know we're in for something a bit different and you won't be disappointed.

Gill is a wonderful character full of conflicts. She's a psychologist, an empath (very high on the scale), and she's a soldier who has killed in the course of her duties. The fact that she's still not only sane but functioning is amazing in itself but then you have to meet her for yourself to understand. She's feisty, gutsy, and driven to succeed. She's used to taking care of herself and when she finds herself in the midst of a vampire uprising led by Dracula (the Vlad of the evil3 psychotic nature, it chafes when all the vamps treat her like a fragile doll that can fall apart under pressure.

Now to that mix add in that Gill has a love affair with Count Tanis Rachlav, Aleksei's brother (also a vamp). Then toss in that Aleksei is in love with Gill but can't say so since he's her patient at the moment and can't declare himself for a year after treatment. Oh, and did I mention that Dante isn't just a ghost and he's also after Gill. Well, do you get the picture that we're not in the usual strong woman fights vampires paranormal story. You'd be right -- this rendition of the mythos takes some interesting twists and turns that add to the depth of the story and could make for a powerful series if powers are kept in check.

My only problem with the book was the constant harping on how beautiful, sexy, and studly all the paramortals were. This is where the narrative really bogged down. I kept going because the story was strong, the characters were intriguing and where the author forgot to tell us how wonderful the vampires and fey looked the prose really took off. I think that we'll see some really great writing from this author in the future.

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