Joint Review: Blood Roses by Lindsay J. Pryor ★★★★1/2

Blood Roses by Lindsay J. Pryor
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Blackthorn #2
Publication Date: April 26th 2013
ISBN: 9781909490031
Page Count: 400
Janice's Rating: ★★★★★
Lynsey's Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey/Janice
Synopsis:“She was supposed to kill vampires, not save them. Those were the rules. That was the lore.” 

A rare and powerful witch whose blood is lethal to vampires, Leila has always viewed her serryn abilities as a curse. After seeing her mother slaughtered as a child, Leila longs for a safe, quiet life.

That wish is shattered by Caleb Dehain – a vampire with a dark past and a darker heart. The most feared serryn hunter of his generation, Caleb now needs the help of one of the witches he despises to save his dying brother.

A serryn who has no reason to help him. Except that he has her sister.

Caleb and Leila are each other’s worst nightmare – but the slow-burning spark of attraction between them is undeniable. Will Leila’s blood be his damnation? Or could her kiss be his salvation?

JANICE'S REVIEW

Intense!

Blackthorn is not a nice place. Just ask Leila, the leading lady of Blood Roses.

From the moment Leila stepped onto the page, I felt for her. Raised her whole life in the safety and security of Summerton, she has never set foot on the vampire-infested streets of Blackthorn, nor does she want to. But when she receives a frantic call from her younger sister Alisha, begging for help, Leila has no choice but to enter the proverbial lion's den.

Getting in is the easy part. It's getting out that will be tricky, because a certain uber-sexy and dangerous vamp has figured out Leila's most closely guarded secret, and he's not about to let her go.

Caleb has hunted serryns for years. He hates them with the fire of a thousand suns, and having one fall into his lap resurrects all the darkness inside of him. Darkness that is aimed entirely at poor Leila.

Leila is put through the wringer in this book, and yet somehow, she prevails. She stood up to Caleb, poked holes in his armor, and defied all his negative expectations. And she did it in a way that not only won him over (reluctantly), but me as well (wholeheartedly). The strength of character she displayed impressed the hell out of me, and I was cheering her on the whole way.

Caleb, for his part, is one very bad boy. In any other book, he'd be slated as the villain and I'd be booing and hissing him off the page. He's cold, unforgiving, and more than a little cruel. Yet he's also a devoted brother, an astute businessman, and loyal to his people. I would never call him good, but he isn't outright evil either, and honestly, I liked him. A LOT. He's exactly the kind of complex character I love to sink my teeth into.

Supporting characters Alisha and Jake (Caleb's brother) deserve a special mention. Jake in particular really surprised me. He comes off at first as a useless playboy, but he sure proved me wrong! I'm pleased as punch he and Alisha both had scenes written from their POV. The story wouldn't have worked nearly as well without them and I hope we see more of them both in the future.

As in book one, the story unfolds over a short period of time, and once again, I did not feel gypped in any way. BLOOD ROSES is a fully-developed, thoroughly engrossing story filled with heavy emotional hits and swoonworthy moments. In or out of the bedroom, whether they are viciously fighting or tearing each other's clothes off, Caleb and Leila burn up the pages together. Every moment between them seethes with emotion and intensity. It's potent stuff, and the more I read, the more hooked I became. In fact, when the book ended, it took all of, oh, five minutes for the withdrawal to set in. I wanted MORE.

That's right. I am officially addicted to this series. Why, you ask? Because Lindsay Pryor is my kind of fearless author. She isn't afraid to "go there", to create characters and situations that challenge me as a reader. She doesn't wrap anything in a pretty bow for me, and after two books, she has yet to hand me a single quick fix or easy answer. Black and white? Forget about it! You will find nothing that simple in the the world of Blackthorn. Everywhere you look, there are blurred lines and shades of gray. There are no clear-cut Happy Ever Afters, either. I don't think there can be in this world. Not yet. I could be wrong, but my gut tells me there is a lot of story yet to be told, and everything we're reading now is merely the prelude. All these different stories are going to intersect at some point (I hope), and I can't wait to see what happens when they do.

BLOOD ROSES isn't a wild, action-packed ride through the paranormal world. If that's what you are in the mood for, I would recommend you look elsewhere, because you'll only be disappointed. However, if you're hunting for a book that isn't afraid to get its hands dirty and show you a darker side of life - a book with characters who will grab you by the throat and refuse to let go - then you should definitely check out the Blackthorn series.

5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

LYNSEY'S REVIEW

Back to Blackthorn

After thoroughly enjoying book one of this series, BLOOD SHADOWS, I happily and greedily delved into BLOOD ROSES with much gusto and enthusiasm, ready for more raunchy, heated scenes filled with tension (of all kinds), and ready to meet yet another sinfully wicked hero and a new spunky heroine. And by and large, I was not disappointed in either of those respects.

This time, in Caleb and Leila's story, we dig a little deeper into the dark, seedy heart of the vampire territory that is Blackthorn. It's really not a nice place. It's where the vampires and other third species races are currently forced to reside along with the dregs of human society who act as their food supply. Where the humans in higher power hope that out of sight can mean out of mind, so that they can just carry on pretending they don't exist. It's also the very place a serryn should not be. Like, ever.

Enter Leila - a serryn, who through her errant sister meets serryn-hating vampire club owner Caleb.  Caleb with his extreme prejudice and loathing of everything Leila is. This is a couple that have not even the smallest scrap of common ground, and enough mistrust between them to sink a battleship. In Caleb's defense, his hatred of serryns is not without cause. But I really had to keep reminding myself of that - that he had good reason - during some of the horrendous things he did to poor Leila in this book.

Where the last hero in this series, the lovely Kane, was bad but redeemable, Caleb crossed a few too many lines with me, and didn't quite win me over in the same way. He was just a bit too bad. I'm still prepared to give him more of a chance as the series progresses - because I have a feeling we will see both couples again as their stories don't feel complete quite yet - but he's on his final warning. One more nasty trick and he'll feel the wrath of my Death Glare. 

Speaking of their stories not feeling complete... There hasn't been any saccharine sweet Happily Ever After-type endings so far in this series, which has me wondering whether these books are supposed to be classed as PNR, or just very steamy/sexy UF...

Anyway, back to the book.

For most of  BLOOD ROSES, I felt sorry for Leila. She was treated so horribly, and it was all so undeserved that I was positively brimming with righteous indignation for her and wanted to her to just explode at Caleb - really give him what for. Preferably with a blunt instrument of some sort. But then, in his mind, that would have only proved his point about her; that she's faking her niceness and is secretly an evil bitch like all other serryns he's known. It was a total lose-lose situation for Leila, and I empathised with her almost as much as I wanted to kidney punch Caleb. Almost.

The best part of this book and this series has to be the intensity of the romantic relationships. Love or hate the characters as you will - as I suspect you are intended to - but you can't fail to love all the drama and, again, that total inability to decide who's telling the truth and who's spinning yet another web of deceit. As I've said in past reviews, it is not always a requirement of mine to like all the characters and their actions in order to enjoy a book. And as you've probably picked up, I'm undecided on Caleb because he's a very naughty boy. But the fact remains, I was still made to care about what happens to Caleb and Leila - good or bad - and was fully engaged in the story throughout, and that's all that really matters to me.

So, to sum up, if (like myself) you love emotional torment and passion in your books and can handle a seriously bad boy (maybe not like myself), then I definitely recommend this series. It pulls no punches, its heroes are on the edge, and its sex scenes are off the charts. You have been warned.

4 Stars ★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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