The night is not safe for mortals.
Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows – her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield – and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s dark past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness – and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who craves a taste of her.
He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human – even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the demon nightmare together…
Because once the first drop of crimson falls, they will both be lost.
This is the first spin-off book from the Night Huntress series and comes between 'Destined for an early grave' and 'This side of the grave'. I think it's a good idea to read this spin-off before reading Cat and Books #5 as it gives essential background to Denise and the changes in her life.
Denise already knows what lurks in the dark and has been on the wrong end of vampires and ghouls. She finds out that her cousins have been murdered by a demon and reaches out to best friend Cat Crawfield for help. With Cat and husband Bones unavailable, Bones best friend Spade agrees to help but by the time he gets there, Denise has been marked by a demon. One of her ancestors cheated a demon and this demon will turn Denise unless she delivers Nathaniel.
It was interesting to see a novel built around Denise and I very much liked the story. Knowing the character and her trauma in previous books made it easy to get right into the story. Spade is a strong enough side character to carry a book on his own and I liked seeing him as a heroic male lead and not just a friend of Bones. I liked the chemistry between the characters and the way their relationship developed as it felt like a natural progression.
What begins as a search for Nathaniel through the bloodlines of Spade and Ian soon becomes more deadly. When Spade feeds from Denise, he goes on a bad trip and tries to kill her, her demon infected blood being highly toxic. Spade realises that Denise would be worth a fortune to drug dealers which makes it harder to protect her. The vampire guardians would also regard Denise as a risk to vampire health and will kill her if they discover her secret. Spade is also stressed at trying to keep the whole mess from Cat and Bones, giving a gleeful Ian the chance to blackmail him. Now Spade has to find demonologists to help Denise and drug dealers who might know Nathaniel.
I liked having some of my favourite characters like Cat, Bones and Ian making short appearances, but this book is really about showcasing Spade and giving him a good strong love interest. I liked the usual humour and action scenes that you expect from this author as well as the plot twists that come along. I also think the ending was quite satisfying, fitting in with what we know about Denise as a person. She is going to have challenges ahead but I like the fact that she will be able to contribute to future Night Huntress adventures. I really like what the author has done with her character and there are endless possibilities for Denise. And of course it is nice to see Spade get a decent girlfriend!