blood and sand

Rating: 4.5 stars

Since I am an UBER-fan of Elizabeth Hunter and her Elemental Mysteries/Elemental World series, one would think that reading and reviewing a new book in the series would be pretty easy. I’m finding that assumption to be WRONG. Because I absolutely adored and loved The Elemental Mysteries series, I found it challenging to be objective and really hard to not compare the two stories/couples. I’ve had to read another book and think about this book before I sat down to write this review. Here’s why…in my eyes The Elemental Mysteries books were flawless – flawlessly written and developed and had characters that I had an absolutely horrible time letting go. So how do you read another book set in that world that focuses on different characters?

But here I sit, writing this review and what I do have to say is that it was AMAZING. I really loved it and think that once again Ms. Hunter has found a way to create a story that has romance, humor, suspense, violence, action, steamy scenes and loveable characters. This is a stand alone book and you can read this without reading any of the other Elemental Mysteries/World series; however, I do recommend you read all of the series books because they are AMAZING.

First, I need to mention that I LOVE BAOJIA (pronounced bow-jeeah). Before I get into why I love him, I should explain that in Ms. Hunter’s other books in the other series, I really didn’t care for him because he had a thing for B – and no one comes in between Gio and B. But, as soon as Blood & Sand started I was instantly drawn to his voice and my past prejudices melted away. He is a fiercely loyal protector who forms his own opinions, fights like Bruce Lee and will take your breath away when “watching” him fight. He goes after what he wants and once he makes up his mind about something, there is no going back for him. From beginning to end, I was enthralled by this water vampire – he was perfect.

“You can die,” he said again. “And you would be gone. And I would have nothing.”

“I will not live without her. You and your friends face something far larger than any of this. If she lives – however she lives – I am yours in any fight. I give you my word. You will call on me, and I will answer you. But know this.” His voice dropped to a low growl. “I will not live without her.”

And then there was Natalie. Where do I start with her? I’m going to be honest. I couldn’t stand her for the first maybe 70% of the book. She was stubborn to the highest degree of stubbornness, unreasonable, challenging, naive, self-righteous and just plain annoying. I found myself saying “stupid human” multiple times throughout the book. She constantly put herself, and as a result others, in danger and she didn’t seem to care. She was reckless and selfish at times. BUT, I understood her, so even though she may not have been my favorite character, I still understood why she was the way she was and I accepted it. By the end of the book, I grew to like her, especially because of how much Baojia loved her. I loved him so by association I learned to like her. I will give Natalie this, she was funny and had some great lines that made me laugh out loud.

“I am only going to mark you.” She let out the breath she’d been holding and managed to speak. “If you lift your leg on me, I’m gonna kick you in the balls.”

Now because this was a stand alone book, there was a well developed plot so the book wasn’t as character driven as the other books. Don’t get me wrong, you get plenty character development, but it happens as a lot of events are taking place. The ELIXIR – a mysterious drug that is supposed to make humans immortal without having them turn and cure bloodlust – is once again at the forefront of the problems in the vampire world and somehow connected to the endless stream of women’s bodies being piled up in Ernesto’s, Baojia’s sire, territory. When Ernesto refuses to listen to Baojia, due to his recent exile and infatuation with a human woman, Baojia takes matters into his own hands and turns to unlikely allies. That’s right Gio, B and the rest of the gang to the rescue!

Reuniting with these old characters made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I missed them so to get a little bit of Gio, B, Carwyn, Tenzin and Ben made me smile. I loved the interactions between Gio and Baojia and seeing their relationship turn from one of annoyance with one another to a mutual amicable one warmed my heart. I loved seeing little glimpses into everyone’s life. And my favorites were Ms. Hunter’s subtle hints towards Ben and Tenzin’s budding “relationship” (cannot wait for their series!).

“Tenzin is air, but I’m not sure what it would do. I’ve never shocked an air vampire before.” Ben said, “Can I try?”

As much as I loved the reunion of the characters, there was one scene that did not sit well with me so much that I need to mention it in this review. It was a scene between Baojia and B. Baojia always had a “thing” for B and in my opinion it was never really returned because hello B had Giovanni who was “art on legs with an Italian accent and a seductive stare.” In this scene though, Baojia and B were discussing Natalie and then their past “friendship” came up. Although Baojia cut B off and didn’t let her finish, I did not like the direction B’s confession was going. It was maybe two lines of the whole book, but that scene stuck with me as one of the only things that bothered me about this book. In my eyes anything to downplay or diminish the connection between Gio and B is a no no.

Before I end my seemingly never-ending review, I need to say that NO ONE writes action scenes as good as Elizabeth Hunter. When I read these scenes I really felt like I was watching a movie, one with slow motion fighting, precise movements and violence. They were fantastic and I’ve never read a book that is this descriptive.

Overall, this book was definitely on par with all of Ms. Hunter’s other books in the series. However, I was left slightly…bothered, for lack of a better word, by the ending of the book. It is not that I didn’t like the ending – I just was left scratching my head wondering what had happened and how they got to that point. Maybe this means Ms. Hunter will revisit Baojia again which I hope to be the case!

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I am giving away a KINDLE copy of BLOOD & SAND