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Kate Kane is a paranormal private investigator. When she is summoned by an 800-year-old vampire prince to take on a new case, Kate knows it will be trouble. But she needs the money, and besides, it is not easy saying no to one of the most powerful vampires out there. It turns out that someone was killed outside Velvet, a club run by Julian, the Vampire Prince of Cups, and Kate needs to find out who is behind it. It turns out the victim is a werewolf, and suddenly Kate is wading through the politics of a whole host of supernatural creatures, including vampires, werewolves, and mages, trying to figure out who killed the young man.
Soon things escalate even further, with an attack on Julian and another murder at the club. And supernatural politics are going out of control, with everyone angry at everyone else and Kate trying to figure out who (or what) is behind the attacks. At the same time, Kate finds herself falling for Julian, despite what a bad idea it is to sleep with a client (and a vampire prince). The two women totally hit it off and things would be going great between them if it wasn’t for everything out there trying to kill them. Between angry mages, sewer demons, ninja zombie nuns, and a host of other supernatural chaos, Kate and Julian must fight to make it out alive if they want to have a chance together.
Whew, this was a wild and crazy ride you guys! Hall has created an amazing world here and the detail and creativity really blew me away. I am not even sure how to unpack everything going on here in a way that makes sense, but I’ll try my best.
So first off we have Kate, supernatural private investigator. And also part faery, daughter of some wild faery huntress, which gives her powers like bouts of strength and other things she doesn’t really understand. Kate is having sort of a bad time of it lately, having lost her friend and partner when he was killed by her ex-girlfriend. Not to mention no money coming in, too much drinking and smoking, and not enough sleep. Kate sort of combines this old style, film noir private detective vibe along with sort of a snarky and kick butt action heroine. She is tough and strong willed and badass, but also kind of figuring things out as she goes along. And always with a lot of attitude. I totally loved her, especially for all her crazy, and she is a fabulous character.
Julian is equally badass, one of four vampire princes, and incredibly old and powerful. She’s this cute little pixie who gives off a vibe of casual indifference at the same time you know she could kick your ass into next week. Julian wants Kate from the start, and at first Kate resists, wanting to stay away from vampires (and clients). But it is hard to say no to a gorgeous vampire, and Julian wins her over. Julian has a fascinating backstory that gets rolled out over the course the book. I won’t spoil it for you because it is crazy insane fun, but let’s just say there are demon hunting ninja nuns involved (who like pudding). I don’t read much F/F romance, but seriously, I loved Kate and Julian. They are both such strong, awesome women and so fun and sexy together.
As I said, Hall’s world building here is amazing. This is the first book of a new series and the creativity and depth of detail is just fabulous. There are so many different supernatural beings introduced here and each has their own set of politics and powers. In addition to the beings I already mentioned, we also meet an abstinent sex demon, rat people with a hive mind, and angry unicorns among many others. It is sort of a crazy world where everything is possible and really cleverly done.
I will say the first part of the book is a little heavy on the introductions of many of these creatures and I am not sure that in all cases we needed so much detail as it gets a little overwhelming with the sheer volume. For example, there is an extended scene with the wolves fighting with faeries in the woods that was fairly hard for me to understand and ultimately didn’t seem to add much to the story. In other places, I wish we had a bit more detail, such as a better understanding of what happened to Kate’s old partner. This clearly had a big impact on her, but we never really learn much about it. I would also have loved to understand more about Kate’s mother, as her powers play a big role in her life, but it is still very vague (perhaps intentionally). But overall I do think Hall does a great job of rolling all these things out without too much exposition and filling in details over the course of the book rather than all at once. And truly, it is an amazing and fascinating world.
The mystery part of the plot is also very well done, and woven into our exploration of this supernatural world. We slowly learn about different creatures and the politics of it all as Kate investigates who is threatening Julian. As the story picks up and the threats get bigger, it becomes more intense and exciting. This is a fairly long book, but I really flew through it, especially toward the end as it gets quite thrilling.
For those of you who have read Hall’s fabulous Glitterland, I will mention that the style here is quite different. This story is a thriller and we are seeing things unfold through the eyes of a snarky, kick butt heroine. There is also a lot of humor here, a lot of eye rolling and sarcasm and wittiness that keeps things light in the face of all the crazy stuff going on. I loved that sense of exasperation as they face yet another insane twist and turn and it keeps the book very light and fun. I do think at times the author drifts a bit too far in the purple prose, especially during the love scenes (we hear multiple times that Julian tastes like wine and roseleaves). But the writing here is not nearly the same sort of lyrical and introspective style of Glitterland and this feels much sharper and more contemporary (I loved Glitterland, but I just mention it here for those of you who have read both books so you understand what to expect).
So overall I really loved this one. I found Kate and Julian to be fabulous, fun characters. They are tough and witty and badass, but also very sweet and loving with each other. The world Hall creates here is just fabulous and so incredibly creative. I was captivated right away and really couldn’t put this one down. I am really looking forward to more in the series and definitely recommend Iron & Velvet highly.
Cover Review: I love this cover. Captures the feel of the story and beautifully done.