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That's What I'm Talking About

I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent. 


Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.


A+  Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A    Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A-   Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+  Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B    Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B-   Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+  Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C    Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C-   Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D    Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E    Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish


updated July 9, 2015

Currently reading

Operation: Endgame (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Book 6) (English Edition)
Philippa Ballantine, Jeanne H. Ballantine, William Morris
Just You and Me (A Contemporary Romance Collection)
Fiona Miers, Caitlyn Lynch, Liz Durano, Deelylah Mullin, Cate Farren, Jacquie Biggar, Vicki Batman, Kate Richards, Brenna Zinn, Dalton Diaz, Tierney O'Malley, Desiree Holt, Nicole Morgan, Ashlyn Chase
Bitter Bite: Elemental Assassin, Book 14
Audible Studios, Jennifer Estep, Lauren Fortgang
Progress: 27 %

Review: Awakened

Awakened - Virna DePaul

My Rating: B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues

Review originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

Review copy provided by Edelweiss


Barrett Miles is a human working for the Belladonna Agency, a secret section of the FBI that knows about vampires, which exist among the humans. Barrett is desperate to locate Jane Small, a missing teen who is the daughter of Barrett's deceased childhood friend. Jane was taken by sex traffickers that cater to vampires.


Nick Maltese is a gun-for-hire, contracted by the FBI; his job is to eliminate dangerous, rogue vampires. Believing that the FBI’s Turning Program is over and it is his job to clean up the failed mess, Nick is surprised when his former comrade and lover, Barrett, shows up telling him about Jane and her captors. Now the pair must work together to bring down the dangerous vampires holding Jane captive while coming to terms with their unfinished relationship.


Awakened, the second story in the Belladonna Agency series, is much tighter and more focused than its predecessor, Turned. I appreciate that there was far less world-building and background about vampires, the FBI’s involvement in turning agents into vampires, and the dozen or so characters who play background rolls. Instead, the story opens right in the thick of Barrett trying to locate Jane and stays the course throughout the entire novel. And although human trafficking is a horrendous topic which should never be trivialized or taken lightly, Ms. DePaul is able to effectively use it as the backdrop for her story without bringing readers into a graphic or gruesome set of circumstances.


The primary storyline of finding Jane and bringing down the sex-ring and sale of underaged girls is intriguing. I enjoyed watching Barrett put each puzzle piece into place and figure out not only where Jane is, but who did this to her. I like how it intersects with Nick's job of hunting down turned vamps. I also like that the idea of an FBI mole has taken more prominence in the story.


However, the romance of Barrett and Nick didn’t send any sparks my way. I did like that they had a history and were already "in love" until they split a year before the start of Awakened. I can't point out anything bad or negative about their relationship, but I didn’t feel emotionally connected to them at all. And after a while, Barrett grated on me. Not only did she become a wishy-washy heroine because of continual asinine presumptions about Nick's feelings, but she also withheld important information about the case from Nick, and she was willing to put herself in danger without telling him. I probably didn’t feel connected because the couple didn’t trust one another to open up and allow for a solid relationship for much of the book.


And I just have to put this out there because it bothers me. The FBI is killing vamps with knifes dipped in liquid nitrogen. How does that work? The liquid nitrogen would evaporate within moments of exposure to normal atmosphere, leaving a normal blade. And even if the FBI did find a way to tote around a blade with liquid nitrogen on it, the nitrogen would burn the skin of the user. I understand that this is a fictional book, but the reasons behind why a “nitrogen dipped knife” will kill a vamp never have been explained, and it seems like it's bad science. 


In the end, Awakened was better than its predecessor, with a tighter storyline and less confusion. The plot was interesting, but the execution was not fabulous. I was disappointed at the immense build up only to have a climatic scene that lasted a few paragraphs. 


I did like that there were more than a few hints about a mole/s in the FBI. The book ended with several questions from the first book still left unanswered, like who is really behind the inner workings at the FBI and the Turning Program? I like this over-arching storyline, and I appreciate with the way it is being presented in small bits. I gleaned a little more this time and hopefully it will be a continuing theme that will become a stronger piece of the puzzle as the series moves forward.