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Blood Bargain by Maria Lima
Cover Artist: Cover: Design: Stephen Segal
Review by Gayle Surrette
Juno Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780809573059
Date: 29 November 2008 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Keira Kelly is now living at Wild Moon Ranch with Adam Walker. Her brother Tucker has also settled at the ranch with his lover Niko, Adam's second in command. But something is wrong with Adam. He tripped, and vampires never are less that perfectly balanced. He also seems tired and paler than usual. Keira is worried. But selling the mortuary and acting as Renfield for Adam is messing up her sleep patterns. And something isn't right at the ranch Adam wanted her to check over before purchasing it to add more land to Wild Moon.

Taking up not that long after the events of Matters of the Blood, Blood Bargain is a stand alone that continues Keira's story. We learn more about Keira's childhood and upbringing and where she fits in the family. She now should have completed her Change but she's still having weird flashes of power and then back to normal. She's frustrated and Adam's aloofness isn't helping. So, when it looks like there just might be a mystery at the Purcell range, Keira throws herself into finding out what's going on.

As usual, Lima has served up a braided tale of several plot lines that converge and twist about each other enough that a reader is kept solidly invested in finding the clues and hoping to reach the conclusion before Keira. However, while Lima plays fair, there's a number of puzzle pieces that may or may not fit in this puzzle. Once you finish the book, it's a satisfying end that leaves you waiting for the next book.

Part of what makes this series so interesting, is that Lima uses well known tropes of the fantasy genre, yet gives them enough of a spin to make the recognizable to readers but keep them wondering if things will play out as expected. The differences are slight but make for the feeling that you're entering new territory. For not only are the shapeshifters, vampires, and magic systems just a bit different, but the whole series takes place in Texas -- a vast land that is new to most readers of fantasy. The mystery of the central plot is solidly constructed and doesn't necessarily depend upon the fantastical elements, though they are involved. Fantasy adds flavor to the story while human greed and villainy manage to keep it grounded in the here and now.

An excellent start for the Blood Lines series, I look forward to the next installment.

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