Reviews of these authors' earlier books are available in the Archives.

Blood Born
by Linda Howard & Linda Jones
(Ballantine, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-345-52076-0
Blood Born is yet another product of the current vampire rage. Maybe it’s just me but I’d really prefer my heroes to be fangless – the standard pearly whites work just fine.  Linda Howard, however, is a must-read author for me so I bought it in spite of my reservations. 

I’m recommending the book, but it’s not without problems. Primarily, it’s a victim of its own ambitions. Two authors and three major plot lines. If the book’s editor had exercised some heavy restraint, the narrative might have flowed more smoothly. It’s far too apparent how the authors divvied up the responsibilities. “You cover all the background info.” “You take the Chloe/Luca story line.” “You take the Nevada/Sorin line.”Any reader who’s familiar with the authors’ styles will quickly recognize who got what.   

The following synopsis is longer than I’d like, but with all the characters and story lines, Blood Born doesn’t compact easily. 

Luca Ambrus is a two-thousand-year-old vampire. He’s blood born; that is, he was born vampire to parent vampires as opposed to being turned vampire from human form. He’s a loner; he works as an enforcer for the vampire council by taking care of rogue vampires. There’s one quirk in his makeup: he’s immediately forgotten by nearly everyone — even most vampires – who sees him the moment they turn away. Literally, out of sight, out of mind. 

Luca receives an urgent message from another vampire at the Washington, D.C.-based vampire council headquarters.  He arrives to find his friend dead.  (Vampires go dust-to-dust when they die.)  He discovers there’s a group of vampires who have decided to assume their rightful place and take over the world.  This has aroused the Warriors — a group of legendary warriors who live in another plane of existence waiting for the moment they’re needed to defend the human race. In order to return to the earthly world, Warriors need to be called by one of their descendants, a “conduit.” The rebel vampires are killing any conduits they can discover before the Warriors are called.   

Luca is opposed to vampires revealing their existence and battling to assume control over humans.  Besides appreciating humans as a food source, Luca finds them entertaining. 

Chloe Fallon is a hostess at a Washington restaurant. Her Warrior is trying to contact her through disturbing dreams, but Chloe, a conduit, is as yet unaware of what’s happening. When a vampire tries to kill her before she can call her Warrior, Luca comes to her rescue. Besides killing her would-be assassin, he “glamours” her into a less panicky state of mind and helps heal her wounds. She thanks him, goes to enter her house, then turns around and thanks him again. Chloe remembers him!   

Humans have one strength: their homes are inviolable. Some time in the past a witch cast a spell: vampires may not enter a human’s home unless invited.  Nevada is a descendant of that witch. She’s now being held at the vampire headquarters.  Her family’s very lives are in jeopardy; she’s to discover the secret behind the spell and reverse it.  Reversing the spell will enable vampires to enter anywhere, anytime; humans will lose their sole protection. 

Sorin is the vampire who is Nevada’s main contact.  Even though she despises her vampire captors, she believes that Sorin is not without some redeeming qualities. (This sounds like the Stockholm Syndrome to me.)  Unbeknownst to Nevada, Sorin is one of the vampires who are killing conduits, but he is becoming somewhat troubled by the course of events.  Nevada resolves to develop her witch capabilities while concealing any progress from the vampires. 

  The Chloe/Luca story line in Blood Born is more successful than the vampire rebellion and Nevada/Sorin story lines.  Linda Howard manages to infuse her standard alpha male energy into Luca while keeping Chloe from being a complete patsy.  (It takes real guts to punch a vampire in the stomach just because he’s being obstreperous.)  Considering that Luca has a two thousand year advantage on Chloe, she does a pretty good job of holding her own. 

There will be at least one sequel to Blood Born which will feature Chloe’s Warrior Indikaiya and Sorin.   

I was prepared to give Blood Born a solid four hearts, but life intervened.  I found myself facing a three-hour journey without a book to read!  Imagine my horror. I still had Blood Born in my bag so I pulled it out as the best alternative to reading billboards. And I found it better the second time through. Of course, I already knew who hooked up with whom, who died, and who needed to die. Furthermore, I firmly believe it needed an editor with an iron-willed red pencil. But whenever I enjoy a book just as much the second time as the first and would not fight to the death if forced to read it a third time, its pluses outweigh its negatives, and more tellingly, it’s not sitting in my “Friends of the Library” bag waiting to go to its next owner: well, that makes it a keeper for me. 

Blood Born deserves four hearts or maybe it deserves more. Either way it deserves a few hours of your time. 

--Lesley Dunlap 

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