My Rating:4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
The second book in Ms. Carlson’s Jessica McClain series starts of in the thick of things just days after the conclusion of the first book, Full Blooded. Jessica is busy fighting an imp and discovers yet another prophecy supposedly about her. After discussing it with her dad, it appears there may be some truth that she is the One True Lycan who will overcome the world’s evil. Jessica and her dad have a wonderful rapport, and their heart-to-heart is just one of the many moments I thoroughly enjoyed in Hot Blooded.
Jessica, her brother twin Tyler, and friend Danny are preparing to search for Jessica's mate, Roarke, who was captured by the evil goddess Selena at the end of the last book. They will be working with two vampire trackers (all part of a deal brokered in the first book). In addition, Jessica is responsible for a human police officer, Ray: a man who hounded Jessica when she was human. By pack laws he needs to be killed since he knows about the paranormal. However Jessica doesn't feel that's right and fights to allow him to live, but she has to convince Ray to join them willingly and work for the pack. It's an excellent twist that allows Jessica to grow into a stronger, righteous woman that just may be the One True Lycan.
I really enjoyed Hot Blooded, especially after loving the premise but being a little disappointed with the first book. This time around, the plot and writing flow smoothly, and the book stays focused on the story, which didn’t always happen in the the first one.
Jessica is a wonderful urban fantasy heroine. She has come into her own; she is assertive and aggressive but caring. The fact that she wants Ray to live and doesn't want to kill any being in cold blood is a testament to this. When reading Full Blooded, there was something about Jessica that bothered me; however that nagging feeling of something I didn't like is gone. She is smart, witty, and she embraces her new role and powers with confidence. Although the story begins shortly after the first book, it feels like an eternity. Jess is focused and mature. Also, I really like how Jessica and her wolf are two separate consciousnesses. They have to work together, which wonderfully demonstrates how she thinks and works through situations. I enjoy that the wolf knows things Jessica doesn't; however, I do wonder how the wolf knows so much.
In the world of Jessica McClain, the different factions of supernatural beings do not get along. Despite this, or maybe because of it, the team and their vampire guide, Naomi, develop an exciting and refreshing relationship. Danny and Naomi have a wonderful connection, and I throughly enjoyed their banter and dialogue (and wonder where things may be headed *waggles eyebrows*). Overall, the group dynamics are entertaining and at times heart-warming. There is Ray (human) and Eamon (Naomi’s vampire brother) on the far sides of the fence with Naomi, Jessica, Tyler and Danny working for common ground in the middle. Their cooperation and information sharing all in the name of taking down the evil goddess Selena is fun to witness.
The journey to Selena’s lair to rescue Roarke is filled with difficult tasks and unnerving pitfalls. For the most part, the intensity remained high and the action was exciting. I enjoyed the demonstrations of Jessica’s new found abilities, but also her developing leadership skills and capacity to work with a team. There were a lot of traps and obstacles to overcome, and by the final hurdle, I was ready to move on, so I would say there was just the right amount of conflict.
Once the gang finally makes it into the lair, things are pretty dire. The story is violent without being overtly graphic. The final battle reveals some interesting developments and twists, and I for one cannot wait to find out what comes next for Jessica and her ragtag group.
Overall, I thoroughly adored Hot Blooded. The journey was exciting and kept my heart racing. I enjoyed the camaraderie of Jessica and her companions - something missing from the first book. Although there is a “cliff-hangerish” type ending, it is more about the start of the next story rather than leaving this one unfinished. It reminded me of how the TV show Quantum Leap always ended. I look forward to learning more about the mysterious prophecy, but also watching the budding relationships (both romantic and platonic) develop and mature. Balancing action and plot with romance and friendship is a sign of an excellent urban fantasy story, and that is what we see with Jessica McClain.