Hunter’s Prey (Bloodhounds, Book 2) by Moira Rogers has all the ingredients to cook up a terrific wild-west romp. Take one former hooker with the requisite heart of gold. Add one former spoiled party-boy who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and feels like he’s been turned into “Beast” from Beauty and the Beast.
Then again, sometimes Hunter literally does turn into a Beast. A Bloodhound, that is.
The Bloodhounds, and the steampunk-flavored post-Civil War alternate Wild West they prowl, were introduced in Wilder’s Mate, book 1 of this series. Not only do a lot of the characters from Wilder’s Mate reappear in Hunter’s Prey, but the first story provides a chunk of useful information about Bloodhounds and their world.
Hunter’s Prey takes up where Wilder’s Mate left off. Hunter was rescued by Wilder, found in a cage in a vampire’s lair. Hunter was changed against his will, and not made by the mysterious Guild.
The story is all about Hunter’s first month of freedom as a bloodhound. Whether he can accept himself as he is now, and not as the man he used to be.
Bloodhounds are ruled by the moon. During the full moon they crave violence. Hunter had no problems dealing with that urge. A camp of 50 or so vampires near the Deadlands border made for easy pickings.
But it’s the insatiable sexual hungers of his Bloodhound nature that Hunter isn’t certain how to handle. Bloodhounds fall prey to three days of mindless lust during the dark of the new moon. Hunter is afraid to inflict the violence of his new nature on any woman, even the prostitutes who make very good money from the Bloodhound Guild every month. They volunteer for this service. The Bloodhounds need to satisfy their lovers, and they are damn good at it.
Even in the short time Hunter has been free, he’s already become attached to a woman, and he didn’t intend to.
Hunter’s Prey isn’t just Hunter’s story, it’s also Ophelia’s story. Ophelia runs the Guildhouse in Iron Creek. She keeps all the Bloodhounds fed, sees to any guests, hires and fires the help. She keeps the pantry stocked. And she listens to everyone’s troubles. Ophelia used to run a bordello. Except for the nature of the business, running a Guildhouse isn’t much different. She’s tired of managing other people’s houses and other people’s lives. Ophelia wants a place of her own.
But Hunter is just the kind of trouble that draws her in. Ophelia knows she shouldn’t get involved with him. Not because he’s a Bloodhound, but because he isn’t ready to accept that his dreams of a respectable life are over. Bloodhounds aren’t respectable, they are violence incarnate.
However rationally Ophelia decides that she shouldn’t be involved with Hunter, fate has other plans. So do a whole bunch of ghouls and a vampire drug lord.
With the deck stacked so high against them, will Hunter and Ophelia survive long enough to find out that they belong together?
Escape Rating B: Even though Hunter is the title character, Ophelia is the person who really made the story work for me. I could understand completely why she felt the way she did, both about running the house, and why she was thinking of leaving.
And I could definitely see her misgivings about a relationship with Hunter. Until he accepts who he is now, there’s no future. He has to stop looking backward at who he was, and accept himself for who he is now, however that came about. I do love watching a relationship build; the chase should be every bit as much fun to watch as the catch. This was scorching.
I did find myself going back to see where the villain went. The ending was fast and furious, but we didn’t see a whole lot of the bad guy before the take down. On the other hand, I did like the hints that the Guild is going to feature more in later books. They are infernally and internally mysterious. I want to know more about them, so I’m looking forward to that!