(Note: This is a two book review in one post. Yes, it’s a VERY long post due to that. I will probably do a few posts like this as I try to catch up on my serious review backlog from my two surgeries and my epic two-month recovery).
About the Book
Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared.
After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.
But not everyone is on board. The werewolf Rights of Laws is missing text and the superstitious werewolves think that Jessica means an end to their race. It doesn’t help when Jessica begins to realize she’s more. She can change partway and hold her form, and speak directly to her wolf. But the biggest complication by far is that her alpha father can’t control her like he can the rest of his wolves.
When a mercenary who’s been hired by the vampires shows up to extract information about the newly turned werewolf only days after her change, they find themselves smack in the middle of a war and there’s no choice but to run together. When it’s up to Jessica to negotiate her release against her father’s direct orders, she chooses to take an offer for help instead. In exchange, Jessica must now swear an oath she may end up repaying with her life.
322 pages (paperback)
Published on September 11, 2012
Published by Orbit
This book was provided for me to review by the publisher.
You can purchase a copy of this book by clicking on the following link: Full Blooded (Jessica McClain)
There are a few things I’ve learned about myself through all the trauma of cancer treatment and multiple surgeries. When I am recovering from something, or going through something really mentally and physically draining, I read a ton of urban fantasy. In fact, that’s just about all I read. Including, if not mostly, urban fantasy with romance in it. That’s something I was almost ashamed to admit before, but the truth is, I’ve learned that these type of books have their place, and no matter how much I’ve harped on them before, when I really need a mental vacation, it’s not epic fantasy I turn to, but urban fantasy with a dash of romance.
Enter the Jessica McClain series – at least the first two books released so far, Full Blooded and Hot Blooded.
Full Blooded introduces us to our protagonist, Jessica, who wakes up in the middle of a change she shouldn’t be having, as females have never been able to change into werewolves before. She’s the first of her kind, and her father is, coincidentally, a very powerful, very important man in the pack hierarchy. Jessica lives under a false identity doing what most protagonists in urban fantasy do: some form of private investigation. Jessica is tracked down by a mercenary rather quickly, and, helped along by her father’s high status, a war breaks out as superstitious werewolves (and others) try to kill her for fear that she’ll bring down their race.
Sounds interesting, right?
Well, it kind of is. Carlson writes a fast paced book. It doesn’t take long to devour the whole thing, and while there are plenty of clichés thrown in for good measure (like the uber hunk mercenary and Jessica’s sudden ability to do something no one else can do, and the fact that she’s a PI, of sorts), they can almost be ignored. Carlson keeps the pace moving quick, and there really isn’t any time to sit and think about all the clichés or the things you’d rather have differently in the book.
Full Blooded, however, does have some problems with Jessica falling into and out of serious trouble a little too easily. It seems like the trouble she finds is almost too convenient and, with some narrow escapes in toward the end of the book, I had the distinct feeling that her ability to find protection was a bit too convenient to be believed, as well.
My main issue with Full Blooded was that I felt like the entire novel was a set up for a relationship between the protagonist and someone else. The first half of the novel is a lot of mystery, banter, and working up the sexual tension. The second half there’s a sex scene that isn’t too over-the-top as far as I’m concerned. The two realize that they are “meant to be” and “bonded for life” almost too quickly. They fall into this bond so suddenly that it’s almost jarring. Then there’s tons of end-of-the-book action, said bonded man is taken away and readers are left with the second book to find out what happens.
In summation, Full Blooded was a surprisingly fun read. Yes, there are some clichés here, but the plot is absorbing and quick paced. Carlson quickly finds her voice and characters become rather distinguishable as the book progresses. My only true complaint is that, while Jessica’s development is interesting, less time was spent on her and what her ability to transform meant rather than building up a romance which will obviously be important to the series as it progresses.
Is that enough to keep me away from reading the series? Obviously not, as I read book two as soon as I finished book one.
About the Book
It hasn’t been the best week for Jessica McClain.
Her mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge — but Jessica is playing for keeps.
Because she’s the only female werewolf in town…it comes with its own set of rules…and powers.
Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means.
All in a day’s work for a girl.
The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties..
320 pages (paperback)
Published on April 22, 2013
Published by Orbit
This book was provided for me to review by the publisher.
You can purchase a copy of this book by clicking on the following link: Hot Blooded (Jessica McClain)
Hot Blooded is Jessica’s novel. Her mate is stolen, and her single goal is to get him back. Readers who are really hell-bent on the romance aspect of the series will find this rather frustrating. There are quite a few (logical) detours Jessica must make before she makes her way to get her man back. There’s business to put in order, and while that makes sense to me as an adult, and I respected Carlson for allowing Jessica to put things in order rather than running hell-for-leather into the action like so many other UF authors do, I can see where this might frustrate people and get them wanting the plot to move a bit faster.
That being said, all of Jessica’s slight detours in the beginning of the book actually ended up developing her character a bit more than I expected. Jessica isn’t just some hot chick who can kick ass, she’s responsible and cares enough about her family and business to fight her instincts and make sure things on the home front are okay before she runs into a situation she doesn’t understand and can’t really anticipate.
Jessica is on her own more in Hot Blooded than she was in Full Blooded. She is relying on her own instincts, and ends up getting help from vampires (a big no-no for wolves) to get her mate back. Thus, Hot Blooded focuses a lot more on magic systems, supernatural cultural clashes, mythology and various other aspects of world building. Basically, all the world building that I felt the first book lacked was present in Hot Blooded.
Carlson keeps her plot quick moving and heavy with the dialogue, which is something I’ve noticed is rather common with urban fantasy. Thankfully, the dialogue flowed naturally and didn’t seem to hold up the plot in the least. While I did feel like there were a few info-dumps throughout the book they were minor things that are easy to overlook.
There is plenty of action in Hot Blooded. Jessica is pissed, and she’s a wolf and thus, instinct driven. For those who are romance driven, you won’t see her mate until the last bit of the book, which will probably drive you nuts and even when he is reintroduced to the book, there really isn’t any romance present. This is where I need to thank Carlson, as I was concerned that the series would be centered around the romance of these two shifters and, instead, in Hot Blooded she proved that Jessica, as a character, can stand on her own two feet, and her character development due to that is both believable and interesting.
While Hot Blooded, in my mind, is a huge step up from Full Blooded, there were some issues. While it makes sense that Carlson focuses more on magical battles, I felt it distracted a bit from Jessica’s unique werewolf abilities. Furthermore, the journey to the witch’s hidey-hole was rife with some rather unbelievable and incredibly convenient “scary” monsters. While you can expect a witch to surround herself by traps to keep herself safe, these monsters bothered me because you just know how each battle will turn out almost before it begins.
Hot Blooded ends on a cliffhanger (sorry guys, I don’t like them, either), but in good news, Cold Blooded should be released fairly soon. I’m actually kind of surprised to say that I am anticipating the release of this book. Despite the fact that I generally poo-poo urban fantasy, Carlson is proving herself to be her own author in a genre full of the same-old-same-old. She’s not afraid to turn left where many would expect her to turn right. Each book seems to develop the world, magic, cultures and main characters a bit more and Carlson’s pacing and balance between description and dialogue keeps improving with each installment.
Basically, if you are an urban fantasy fan, I suggest you check this series out.
I have both of these books sitting around, and I’ve been a bit leery of them because I find that “urban fantasy” has pretty much become synonymous with “paranormal romance,” and my interest in PNR has drastically reduced over the years. Good to know that even if these are somewhat romance-heavy, they still might be worth giving a try. Sometimes some quick fun reads are exactly what I need.
The first one is a bit romance heavy for my taste. There’s the hot guy and you can just tell exactly what’s going to happen as soon as he enters the book. In the second book the author sets herself apart from the crowd and there’s zero romance, which I appreciated. I suggest giving it a try. Book one you might have to trudge through, but book two might end up delighting you because it’s so different from so much other romance heavy UF.
I’ll definitely keep that in mind, thanks.
I do wish UF could manage to keep itself separate from PNR I’d like to know when I’m getting graphic sex/romance as the focus more than Fantasy.
I think Patricia Briggs does a descent job of it with the Mercy Thompson series (ignore the covers stupid/wrong marketing). Ilona Andrews also does pretty good with Kate Daniels series. Both have some romance but they are enough UF that my husband is reading Kate Daniels and enjoying it and has added Patricia Briggs to give it a try.
I have to completely agree with you there. I’ve read both of those series and enjoyed them both immensely. I think half of the reason I have this knee-jerk reaction to UF is the cheesy covers. The tattooed women with their belly buttons showing and some sort of weapon along with them. It just screams “hardcore woman with sex laden plot” to me and I avoid them. I wish publishers would avoid covers like that. I think more people would try UF, or admit to enjoying it, if the cover art was a bit different.
No matter what they say, the cover DOES matter.
Well, that just bumped up those two authors’ works in my eyes. I don’t mind some romance in what I read, but too often I see UF that’s really PNR, and with a plot so flimsy you’d swear it’s supposed to be secondary to the romance, and that all people will read it for are the sex scenes. Really not my thing. And when I come across UF novels that aren’t PNR, I usually find them pretty enjoyable.
I loved both of these books. I even went out and grabbed the short “blooded” prequel. I liked that the book was about action more than “ohh hot sexy guy”. I keep checking netgalley for the next in the series. I need to get my reviews up also.
I just checked Netgalley yesterday! I hope Orbit puts the next book up soon. I used to not be a huge UF fan, but this series hooked me. It’s nice when an author does her own thing in a total saturated genre. I can’t help but notice.