Formats available: Trade paperback, ebook
Series: Cowboy and Vampire #2
Length: 362 pages
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Purchasing Info: Authors’ Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
Wanted: Lizzie Vaughan, Dead or Alive. Relationships are always hard, but for a broke cowboy and a newly turned Vampire, true love may be lethal. After barely surviving an undead apocalypse in The Cowboy and the Vampire, Tucker and Lizzie hightail it back to quirky LonePine, Wyoming (population 438), to start a family. But she’s got a growing thirst for blood and he’s realizing that mortality ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when your girlfriend may live forever. With a scheming Vampire nation hot on their boot heels and a price on her head, how far will Lizzie and Tucker go to protect their unlikely love? Blending evolution, religion and an overly sensitive cow dog named Rex, Blood and Whiskey drags the Vampire myth into the modern west, delivering double-barreled action, heart-pounding passion and wicked humor.
Blood and Whiskey by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall is definitely “A Cowboy and Vampire Thriller”, just like it says in the subtitle. Meaning that it involves a cowboy, (actually multiple cowboys, but one in particular), a vampire (again multiples, some good, some definitely not so good) and is it ever a thriller.
Also, it’s the sequel to The Cowboy and the Vampire (reviewed here), and it helps a ton to have read the first book first. These vampires have a whole religion of their very own. (There will be spoilers here for the first book. You have been warned.)
When last we left out heroes, Lizzie was the new queen of the vampires, her nemesis (and father) Julius, was permanently dead, and she was pregnant with Tucker’s baby–with no idea whether said baby was going to be human, vampire or some combination of the two. After all the crazy changes in her life, she just wanted to go home, and that meant Tucker’s home, little ole LonePine, Wyoming.
Where the vampire world descends in droves. With Julius dead, there’s a vacuum of power, and everyone wants to know if Lizzie is even capable of filling it. If she isn’t, or doesn’t, chaos will rule. A chaos that will be very, very bad, not just for Lizzie, and for the “good” vampires, but also for the human race. They’ll just be food, like cattle. On the worst-tended factory farm anyone could possibly imagine…and probably for the shortest time in (unlikely to be) recorded history.
Then night will fall. A night that will make the first Dark Ages look positively bright in comparison.
While Lizzie figures out whether she can “woman up” (maybe that should be “vampire up”) and deal with the politics, Tucker has a mission of his own: helping his best friend, conspiracy theory-happy Lenny rescue his kidnapped niece Rose from a feed lot. It turns out Lenny’s conspiracy theories were right after all, just not quite the way anyone imagined.
It forces Lizzie to accept the consequences of her choices as a vampire, and not take the easy way out. Not as a vampire, not as leader, not as a queen. She can either consciously choose to consume evil, or she can become evil by default. It’s her choice, and her destiny.
The right choices are never the easy ones. Lizzie is lucky that cowboys learn that before they fall in love with vampires.
Escape Rating A-: Blood and Whiskey had less philosophy and more action than the first book, and that made for a much more action-packed, and more absorbing story. I picked this one up and totally lost track of time–always an excellent sign.
Every writer who tackles the “vampire question” puts their own unique spin on it, and Hays and McFall are no exception. Their take on vampire philosophy/metaphysics as “good” vampires being those who consume evil humans, and “bad” ones as those who just eat whatever they darn well please made for an interesting moral conundrum, along with the two different pictures of “love as redemption” painted by Tucker’s steadfast love for Lizzie in spite of her change, and the reptile-descended vampire Eliza’s surprising discovery of love for the beautiful Virote.
The question at the end, whether enlightened self-interest is enough to redeem an entire species, is one that I hope will be answered in later books in the series.
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