I had been feeling a bit paranormal deprived lately so when I saw an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) of award-winning author Cherie Priest’s Hellbent, I grabbed it. Hellbent is Book #2 in the Cheshire Red Reports series; however, it works great as a stand-alone novel. If you like paranormal women who can kick some serious butt, this is the novel for you! Be forewarned: If you don’t want to read a lot of sexual references and cussing, this is not the novel for you. I’d say it should only be read by very mature, older teens and adults.
How can you not like a novel that opens with the following line:
“It sounded like a good idea at the time, which is probably going to be on my tombstone – along with a catty footnote about poor impulse control.”
Raylene Pendle is a vampire thief. Hey, who better than a vampire to get in and out quickly and quietly? And if someone gets in the way, well who better than a vampire to take care of that too? Ray has bought a new warehouse in Seattle to cache her treasures in after the feds raided her last warehouse. This new warehouse is also a great spacious place to live. Who’d expect a vampire to be living in a loft? Ray is very pragmatic. She’s a thief solely for the money. Even a vampire has to pay her bills.
She’s got a huge soft spot too. In a way, she’s built her own little family of misfits. She has informally adopted a homeless human brother and sister, Domino and Pepper, who are quite frankly incorrigible most of the time but she loves them anyway. She didn’t stop there though, she also adopted and is protecting a blind vampire, Ian Stott, who had been experimented upon in a horrible way. Vampires live by survival of the fittest. A blind vampire’s life span could normally probably be measured in minutes. Oh, and her best friend is Adrian DeJesus, a hunky and straight human ex-Navy seal who just happens to perform as Rose, a drag queen, at night.
“Domino is a fourteen-year-old jackass who drives me up a goddamn wall, but his little sister Pepper is about eight years old and as cute as a bunny in a sweater.”
Thieving pays the bills so when Horace Bishop phones to tell her he’s got a job for her that could net her millions just for her fee, Ray has to pay attention. While working on Attic Treasures, a PBS show featuring people and their “old junk,” Horace came across a very rare and very odd set of magical artifacts. He believes he can sell them to sorcerers for a vast fortune if Ray will retrieve them for him. All she has to do is go to a remote home near Portland, OR and get them. Easy, peasy and just down the road.
It’s a good thing Ray has a touch of OCD because she plans every job six ways to Sunday. Little does she know there’s not enough planning in the world to make this job go right. There’s nothing like finding a dead man, realizing someone beat you to the artifacts, barely escaping a house blowing up and then almost getting struck by lightning twice to make a woman rethink her occupation.
“…when I barely reached the end of the driveway where the mailbox leaned at a rakish angle, a blinding column of jagged white heat snapped down from those boiling clouds and struck the satellite dish on the roof…The second strike took the garage, and the fireball that went up when the lightning met the paint thinners and the gasoline shoved me face-forward into a ditch beside the road – literally lifting me off of my feet and throwing me.”
When Ray returns to Seattle, she learns Ian has been contacted by the San Francisco House. His patriarch has died and, as eldest son, he has been ordered to return to take his place as head of the House. Unfortunately he would be killed within minutes of setting foot back in San Francisco because of his blindness. To make things even more fun, there seem to be vampires in the Atlanta and Chicago Houses who are also hunting for him, and want to see him destroyed. Ian’s determined to go anyway but Ray talks him into letting her do some advance scouting for him to find out what’s going on – and whether there’s another way.
So now Ray has an extremely full plate: She’s got to find the certifiable sorceress who stole the artifacts before Ray could steal them and she’s got to somehow get these weird relics back before this woman’s insane revenge destroys the world. That should be a piece of cake – NOT! And Ray’s also got to somehow save Ian from himself and everyone else by finding another way for the San Francisco House to be appeased, in addition to figuring out why the Chicago and Atlanta Houses are after him and stopping them. Whew! It’s a good thing Adrian’s going to help her on this one, even if he has his own agenda, because he can kick butt almost as well as she can, and that’s saying a lot for a human!
I enjoyed every minute of Hellbent! The characters are very well written and the action was non-stop! Did I tell you that I loved the characters? Ray is the kind of snarky kick-butt female protagonist, with a heart, that I love. I also loved Ray’s little mismatched family, and the banter between Ray and Adrian was hilarious. The plot kept my eyes glued to the book – I couldn’t put it down. I now have to go back and read Book #1, Bloodshot. I’m hooked on this series and I think you will be too!
Hellbent was released on September 15, 2011, so it’s available through your favorite bookseller.
I’d love to get your comments on Hellbent, Bloodshot, Cherie Priest or her other work, and/or this review!
If you liked this review, please +1 it and share it with your friends!