Rating: 4.75 stars
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Blood in the Sand picks up a few months after the end of Blood Howl, the first book in the Sanguis Noctis series. Jed and Redford are happliy together, having settled into their relatioship and clearly in love with one another. Redford is now assisting Jed on his jobs, proving much more adept at the business side of things than Jed, who is mostly interested in making big explosions. One day they get a visit from Jed’s smooth, elegant contact David, along with his stuffy professor boyfriend Victor. We first met both men briefly back in the first book as they helped Jed and Redford with their investigation into Fil and the wolves. Now David is bringing them a new case. There are a series of disappearances in Cairo that David feels are related, despite the authorities not seeing a pattern. He wants Jed to find out who is behind the kidnappings and to stop them.
When the four men arrive in Egypt, it becomes clear that David has his suspicions about what is going on and who is behind it, but refuses to share more details. Jed and Redford also learn that David himself is not what he seems and that there may be more to Victor as well. David eventually reveals he believes he knows who is responsible for the kidnappings and that it is a man from his past, a man who still has an emotional hold over David. The four men must fight to save the victims and stop the bad guys, all while helping David keep a hold on his sanity and trying not to get killed in the process.
Whew, I really liked this one and thought it was a great follow up to Blood Howl, which I also greatly enjoyed. This book is more complex and sweeping than the first book. Not only do we have two couples involved, but the story takes us much deeper into the world of the supernatural. In addition to the wolves and werewolves we meet in the first book, we are also introduced to vampires and medusas and learn about the existance of a host of half breed creatures. I liked the way we learn about these things through Jed’s eyes as he realizes there is a world out there that he never imagined before meeting Red, one that he isn’t always quite sure how to navigate (though blowing things up continues to be his fall back option).
My favorite part of the book was once again getting to visit with Jed and Redford. Red continues to be sweet and naive, but without that total lack of social and cultural awareness that at times made him difficult to believe in the first book. And Jed is still Jed — brave, strong willed, smart mouthed, and tough as nails. He is virtually fearless in just about every situation except when he senses a threat to Redford. Whether it is a real danger like a deadly vampire, or something small like a rude comment directed Red’s way, Jed will do anything to protect his man.
I just loved Jed and Redford together in this book. They both have grown so much since the first story, both individually and together. Red is stronger, more able to take care of himself and hold his own in a fight, especially since his wolf instincts have come more to the forefront after his dealings with Fil. And Jed has thrown himself whole heartedly into the relationsihp. Whatever reservations he had about opening himself up to love are long gone. He worships Redford and doesn’t mind anyone knowing it. I adore a reformed bad boy and Jed retains enough of his rough edges to keep him the strong man we love, while at the same time becoming a total softie when Redford is around. I loved watching the two of them together, always connected and touching, almost unconsciously.
This story also gives us a lot more insight into David and Victor and their relationship as well. They are so different, with David suave and polished and Victor as the more stuffy, scholarly professor. But here we learn that David is hiding a lot of demons and for years has been struggling to keep his darker side under control. Coming to Egypt and facing his past is supposed to put it all behind him, but instead ends up pushing him to the limits of his control and his sanity. In some ways Victor is able to help him, to keep him on the right path. But as the story goes on we see that in other ways Victor’s presence enables David’s darker instincts, and the men must look at whether they really can be together. I enjoyed this secondary relationship and thought it worked really well with the plot. It made the story much richer to have these two additional characters who were so knowledgable about the case, the supernatural beings, and the local culture. And David and Jed’s continued bickering and struggles for dominance were quite amusing. Although the story is primarily told from Jed and Redford’s POVs, we also get some sections from David and Victor’s viewpoints as well.
My only real quibble is that the story introduces the issue of Red’s struggles for control over his animal instincts early on in the story, and then it sort of drops away for large portions of the book. In Blood Howl, Red is infected with blood intended to turn him into a pure wolf. When the process is interrupted, there are some repercussions. Red can turn at will now, not just at the full moon. But although he is still a werewolf, his wolf instincts have also become stronger, causing him to act out in strange ways (chasing squirrels, hyped up “claiming” instinct over Jed, etc). I thought this was really an interesting concept, especially in the way it parallels David’s loss of control over his own nature. But I felt like it was brought up, then basically dropped until late in the story.
Overall I have really enjoyed these two books and getting to know Jed and Redford. I was thrilled to see on the authors’ website that there is a third book in the works featuring the two men. For me this book was a great combination of romance and suspense, mixing the contemporary with the paranormal. The Egyptian setting and mythology were really well incorporated, along with interesting supernatural world building. I loved revisiting with Jed and Redford, loved seeing how their relationship has progressed. I really liked this one and would definitely recommend both this book, and the series.
Cover: Another beautiful cover. Gorgeous colors and the imagery is it totaly synch with the story.