Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Note: The Vampire Contract is the first book in R.J. Scott’s Supernatural Bounty Hunters series. Jason will be reviewing the whole series over the next three weeks, focussing on two novellas per week.
Connor Strand is a Senior Retriever for the Glitnir. In order to protect his family from their crimes of being a part of an isolationist purist cult, Connor indentured himself as a werewolf retriever to the Glitnir and is close to paying off his debt, or of being promoted within the ranks. Connor has a strong sense of honor and has been assigned the responsibility of locating and executing Micah Jamieson, on the run from Glitnir for the murder of his husband, Ethan Harris. Micah was found next to Ethan’s body with blood on him and in his throat, but Micah insists he was set up and that he is innocent. Micah escapes the Glitnir and goes on the run to find his brother, Joseph, who can prove his innocence.
Micah and Connor have bonded but refuse to admit it. Micah believes that there is a separation between Connor’s wolf and man and that the wolf is the one who believes in the mating bond. Connor is perpetuating this belief by attributing his attraction to Micah to his wolf.
Believing that Micah is innocent and following his heart could mean the end for Connor’s career and his life. When Micah and Connor arrive at Micah’s family’s sprawling mansion home in search of Joseph they are captured, and imprisoned for their crimes: Micah for murder and Connor for a failure to retrieve Micah, the convicted killer. Things aren’t looking good for the men and the only one who can help them, Joseph, is nowhere to be found.
Scott wrote the story as if we are already familiar with the situation and world. Although this could have proved problematic, enough contextual information is provided that we are able to use our imaginations along with the character’s interaction to fill in the blanks. Letting us, the reader, fill in the blanks about the history and world we have entered made me feel more involved and invested in the outcome.
Scott also does a good job of fleshing out Connor and Micah as characters, considering the length of the story and the fact that we will continue to see them evolve in future installments. I would have liked to have more details about Micah’s escape from the Glitnir, but that was really the only thing that did not mesh for me. The sexual tension between Connor and Micah was evident, to say the least, and their refusal to admit to it, or act on it, was consistent with the premise of the story and the characters. I was pleasantly surprised when Micah and Connor finally give in to their strong mutual attraction. The sex scene was not at all what I was expecting and was definitely hot (and satisfying for Connor and Micah!).
The Vampire Contract is a solid set up for the next installment of the Supernatural Bounty Hunters series. The ending is well crafted and although this installment could be read independently of the rest of the series, it truly is just a stepping stone to the real action. The shifter mate concept, including the strength of the mating bond, is a common theme in shifter books and never fails to make me smile (call me a romantic at heart *sigh*).
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Levi Tiernan, an incubus, Guard for the Fae Alliance, and assassin is setting out on a journey with Declan Finlay, Retriever for the Glitnir, to locate and deal with missing Connor Strand and convicted murderer Micah Jamieson. Declan cannot believe that his mentor, Connor, has abandoned his responsibilities as Senior Retreiver and so Declan is under a lot of pressure; he must bring back Connor and execute Micah, or not return to Glitner. Levi is disenchanted with Glitnir due to information he received from a reliable source that refutes the story that his parents committed suicide, and were in fact murdered. After a heated kiss, Levi believes he can trust Declan, whom he loves, and Levi shares his discovery with Declan. Sadly Declan’s response is less than favorable due to Declan’s extreme loyalty to Glitnir, and Declan feels that Levi is a traitor for doubting the official account of his parent’s deaths.
When Declan and Levi’s locate Micah, Connor, and an elf named Phin, a decision needs to be made. Levi has already decided on his new path with the resistance, but can Declan give up all he holds dear for love of his friend Connor and his love for Levi? A confrontation with Connor that leaves Declan temporarily incapacitated allows Connor the opportunity to explain his bond to Micah, which helps Declan to finally admit his love for Levi. Admission made, Declan and Levi make love, and Declan’s feelings are cemented. The group splits up at the mountain, Connor and Micah to locate and warn Connor’s family and Declan, Levi, and Phin to try and find Micah’s brother, Joseph, who allegedly has the proof that Levi’s parents were murdered. When Phin, Levi, and Declan run into an unexpected adversary, will they be able to overcome this deadly obstacle that stands in their way?
A sheep in wolf’s clothing? I found it interesting that Declan, such a strong individual, would be unwilling to consider a different point of view than that of Glitnir, like his service has got him brainwashed and incapable of free thought. Couple that with Levi’s insistence of corruption and lies within Glitnir, and you get a huge bone of contention between two men who are obviously hot for each other. Declan is also troubled by the fact that as an incubus, Levi feeds on emotions, and the thought of Levi “sucking his brains out” (no pun intended) freaks Declan out despite the sizzling attraction.
When Declan reluctantly admits his love for Levi, I wondered why Declan changed his tune, so quickly. The conversation with Connor didn’t feel that effective at the time but Declan admitted his love for Levi nonetheless. Even with the declaration of love out in the open, Declan still has doubts, but appears more open to the possibility that Glintir is not all he thinks it is. Another leap taken by Declan was when he decided to go where Levi goes. Declan’s capitulation was really quick and did not feel natural, perhaps because of his wolf, but that thread is not examined in depth. The world of the Supernatural Bounty Hunters is primitive, no cars, small villages reminiscent of a medieval time, and yet Levi pulls out, and unwraps an energy bar, which was not consistent with my world view.
By then end of The Guilty Werewolf, we can see the bigger conflict growing in the distance, and for a novella, there is a surprising complexity to the plot. Like in The Vampire Contract, the ending was satisfying, but The Guilty Werewolf definitely does not lend itself to being read on its own because of its role in setting up the impending conflict between the resistance and Glitnir.