Title: Blood & Spirits
Author: Dennis Sharpe
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Coming Storm (Book 1)
Publication Date: April 21, 2011
Format: Paperback, 310 Pages
ISBN-10: 1456325639 (CreateSpace)
ISBN-13: 978-1456325633 (CreateSpace)
Reviewed by: Sheila
Small-town life can be hard for a dead girl…
For Veronica Fischer the night to night life of a bloodsucking madam in Middle America is tough enough before she adopts Rachel Gregory, an eight year old ghost.
After her house is set on fire, and Rachel disappears, all signs point to foul play. When she finds herself with a hit out on her unlife, and warrants for her arrest, it becomes clear she’s going to need help.
Now she has to contend with horny zombies, violent spirits, and murderous grave robbers if she’s ever going to find Rachel and discover the awful truth of the coming storm.
A raucous ride through the dangerous lives of the lecherous undead.
Quick & Dirty: Down and dirty first person narrative that follows a “madam” vampire and her troubles.
Opening Sentence: I’m told that it’s an oddity that I still sleep.
In a market flooded with vampire stories, I was not expecting much from debut author, Dennis Sharpe. I have never been so happy to be wrong. Blood & Spirits, the first book in The Coming Storm series, is as gritty as it is captivating. I am also pleasantly surprised at how well a man portrays a realistic woman’s point of view. Very few can obtain such insight into the opposite sex. I know that I have NO idea what guys are thinking, just ask my husband. Anything I found lacking or obtuse will most certainly be touched upon in the next two books. That is part of the reason this book catches my attention: we learn along with V and her companions in a first-person perspective.
Veronica “V” Fischer is a madam in a brothel house in Middle America. If you don’t know what a “madam” is, then this book might be a little too risqué for you. Just remember, I warned you. She has employees, a go-to man, and spirits that she relies on to take care of day to day affairs. She is also a vampire. Found by her sire, Jules, at a young age, V has always used her “assets” to her advantage. She is smart, and runs her house like the business it is. Now there is someone out there trying to tear down all that V has built up, one brick at a time. Rachel, an eight year old ghost that V has grown attached to, goes missing. “Patrons” of her establishment are telling police that they are being blackmailed by her. Someone keeps trying to blow up her brothel house. Can’t she catch a break here? The more that happens, the more we see V lose her cool façade. Anyone, vampire or human, can only take so much in so little time. I do so appreciate a character that responses in a more realistic way. V is then forced to admit she is in over her head and calls on her sire for help.
Jules is an old vampire. He is V’s “father figure” and has long ago left her to fend for herself. Jules is truly like a dad in this novel. I mean, what adult do you know wants to admit to needing their parents to bail them out of trouble? No one, that’s who. He is strong and invincible in V’s eyes. So surely anything that’s going on here he can fix, right?
The love interest here is an unknown vampire named Garrett. He blows into to town just when things are getting out of control and saves V from some “unquiet” spirits that are attacking her. But is his help as altruistic as he wants us to believe? V is certain that whoever is trying to kill her must be one of her own kind, a vampire. So is this sexy new player on the field a good guy or a bad guy? Can V truly resist him either way?
Frank, V’s right hand man, is an ex-cop. He relies on his old contacts on the force to investigate things for V. Frank stays with V, not only because she is his boss, but also his friend. His ex-partner, David Lewis, refuses to understand why he would leave the force and go work for someone they both used to think of as a “bad guy.” There is a lot of sexual tension between the two that is never fully addressed. I enjoy the by-play though. Dave helps Frank track whoever is causing problems for V and her girls, even though he would rather see V behind bars instead. The loyalty Dave shows toward Frank is commendable, and the fact that he refuses to give up on his old partner is comforting. I believe everyone should have someone looking out for their best interests, whether you want them to or not. Dave’s feelings are evident in everything he does. Will these two work it out? Will they get together, or not? Will the difficulties V is having be the final straw that breaks this long time friendship? Or will it turn into the catalyst that changes their relationship forever?
One of my favorite characters to hate in this story is Paco, the zombie. Nasty looking: inside and out. The maggots hinted at below his skin are a perfect metaphor for the rot in his soul. He is a magic user and holds sway over the spirits around him. Being one of the less desirables of the little town of Pekin, few choose to go to Paco for assistance. Unfortunately, V is left with little choice if she is going to find out what is going on in the spirit world. How can she help those ghosts that mean so much to her without a guide? Will he help her or use her toward his own advantage? I mean, what’s in it for him? Will she ever get the smell of him out of her car?
V is a wonderful anti-hero; full of vulnerability and cunning, street smarts mixed in with naiveté. I have grown to adore her and her lackadaisical attitude shining in at the oddest of moments. A diamond in the ruff, Blood & Spirits exceeds many of my expectations from a self-published work. I will be looking forward to future Dennis Sharpe books.
I can see the shadows have fled, but I’m not alone. There he is, standing in the center of the room outlined in red from the light of the emergency exit signs. How did he get here so fast? Why didn’t I sense his presence? How did he even know I was in trouble? Nothing is making any sense. I stare, trying to wrap my mind around what I’m seeing, and then I gasp audibly, drawing attention to myself.
His head snaps in my direction, and he takes a defensive posture. His head cocks slightly to the side and I know his face, and the motion of what he’s doing. I’ve been through it before, he’s reading me.
“Jules?” So small, my voice is hardly more than a squeak.
The Coming Storm Trilogy:
2. Distant Thunder
FTC Advisory: The author provided me with a copy of Blood & Spirits. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. I only get paid in hugs and kisses from my little boys.
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