Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-611-1
The Wicked Kiss is a genuine sequel to Trina M Lee’s Once Bitten, and as a result, this story contains some major spoilers for the previous book. Reading this book, this review, or even the synopsis on the publisher website is not advisable when you haven’t read the previous book but intend to one day.
Our heroine, bad-ass spook law enforcer and werewolf Alexa O’Brien, is back and she has her hands full trying to keep a friend’s boyfriend from becoming a full-fledged junkie. Meanwhile, her werewolf mate Shaz Richardson and her vampire boyfriend Arys Knight are at the brink of beating each other into pulp. If that’s not enough, Arys’s maker or sire Harley Kayson – what is with the names of the vampires in this series, Ms Lee? – has this brilliant idea that Arys will share her with him, even if both Arys and Alexa are like, “Hell, no!” Shaz, in the meantime, is involved in a pack contest of dominance with a rival for the position of Alpha. How Alexa manages to find time to do her job is beyond me.
If you think from reading this synopsis that the whole series seem like something inspired by Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, well, I can’t disagree with you completely as the two books so far in this series contain some pretty familiar tropes popularized by that author. However, this is the series that Anita Blake could have been without the ardeur nonsense taking over.
Alexa is an intelligent and capable heroine. She has her sassy and sarcastic moments, but Ms Lee is careful not to have Alexa overdo things or become a mouthy too-silly dingbat. Her relationships with Shaz and Alys are not inserted for titillation – I am given good insight into Alexa’s feelings for these two men and there is a strong emotional component here. While her feelings for both men may not fit under the conventional definition of love, it’s clear to me that she is tied to both men in bonds both emotional and physical.
The plot is not as dramatic or gripping as that in Once Bitten, but it is still a pretty gripping read. Also, the author doesn’t shy away from violence. All the main characters may be the “good” guys, but they are also more than happy to give in to their more… beastial, shall we say, natures when they are allowed to do so. There is no forgetting that the good guys are vampires and werewolves because these are people who do enjoy and get off from the high of doing what vampires and werewolves do. They don’t indiscriminately prey on innocent folks, but since they view the bad guys as fair game, the bad guys rarely survive an encounter with our good guys.
I have a pretty good time with The Wicked Kiss, which is surprising considering that I am pretty fatigued at the moment with the urban fantasy genre. I’m actually looking forward to the next installment.