Review: Blade to the Keep by Lauren Dane

Blade to the Keep by Lauren DaneFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: Rowan Summerwaite #2
Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: December 9, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Rowan Summerwaite is no ordinary woman. She’s smart and strong and with the power of an ancient goddess in her belly, she’s the perfect candidate to re-negotiate the fragile Treaty keeping the peace between the Vampire Nation and the last line of defense for humanity, The Hunter Corporation. A meeting of the Joint Tribunal, and Rowan’s new status as Liaison sends her straight to the last place on earth she wants to be—The Keep.

Raised at the knee of The First, honed into a weapon by the Hunter Corporation, wielding ancient knowledge from the Goddess within, Rowan must navigate around bloodthirsty opposition among Vampires and Hunters alike to avoid an all out war that puts humanity in the crosshairs.

And she’s got to do it as she attempts to manage a politically awkward romantic relationship with Scion Clive Stewart during a trip back to a place she escaped nearly fifteen years before. No pressure.

Walking the path between her two lives has already made Rowan a pariah. If she leaves it to become something even more Other, she may lose even the shreds of home she has left.

My Review:

goddess with a blade by lauren daneGoddess With a Blade was one of the first books I reviewed for NetGalley, but that’s not the only reason I remember it so well.

It is an absolutely awesome urban fantasy with truly amazing world building, and an utterly kick-ass heroine who manages to be down-to-earth human in her emotions while being more-than-human in actuality.

Rowan Summerwaite is a mass of contradictions. She was raised by the leader of the Vampire Nation, using methods that were totally beyond abusive–and she has the physical and emotional scars to prove it.

And yet, he did the best he knew how to prepare her for the role that she would have to play; she is the vessel of the goddess Brighid, and she is a licensed vampire slayer of the Hunter Corporation.

Her job is to enforce the treaty between the Vampire Nation and the Hunters, a treaty that keeps us regular humans from discovering that the things that go bump in the night have always walked beside us, and have generally preyed on us.

Goddess With a Blade was our introduction to Rowan and her world, and it is awesome. She has to investigate a vampire serial killer, while dealing with a tension fraught reunion with her foster father and an incredibly hot frenemy she’s not sure whether she wants to stake or mate.

Blade to the Keep is a direct sequel to Goddess With a Blade. If you love urban fantasy with a romantic subplot, and you haven’t read Goddess, start.

Blade takes us back to where Rowan grew up. She goes home to The First’s castle/palace/headquarters, but this isn’t a family visit. She is the official Liaison between the Vampire Nation and Hunter Corporation, and her job is to get an amendment to the peace accords passed the inevitable nasty politicking that will hopefully prevent some of the damage done by the serial killer to occur again.

There’s a story here of political infighting at its nasty best (or worst) with both sides having an “Old Guard” that wants to return to the good old days. Of course, each side’s version of what those good old days really were is rather different. And all the people on both sides who want to go back to war are not the ones who would fight said war.

The commentary on how willing the button pushers always are to send other people out to fight is particularly pointed. Possibly also fanged.

Rowan is uniquely qualified to get the accords passed. She just has to survive everything that is being sliced at her from both sides of the negotiating table.

Escape Rating A+: Goddess With a Blade was on my best ebook romances of 2011 list because it was just so fantastic. Blade to the Keep is a more-than-worthy successor.

The worldbuilding just keeps getting better. By taking the story back to Rowan’s childhood home, we learn much more about the people and forces that shaped her in the heroine we see.

There’s not a question that Rowan has a version of Stockholm Syndrome, in that she loves the father who certainly abused her, there’s also a recognition that he loves her as much as she can’t stop herself from loving him.

He knew what her future was going to be and made her strong enough to bear it.

But he’s still “The First”, the oldest and strongest Vampire in the Vampire Nation, and he is the leader of his people in the treaty negotiations. Even when they don’t want to be led, and even when they challenge his leadership by threatening Rowan.

While Rowan’s past comes back to both haunt and enfold her during this visit to her former home, The First’s past literally comes back to bite him. And through that conflict we learn even more about the early history of vampires in this alternate universe and the Vampire Nation.

Rowan’s relationship with the Vampire Scion of Las Vegas, Clive Stewart, continues to gain depth. Even though they are on opposite sides of the negotiating table, and even though their relationship is considered unwise in some quarters and anathema in others, they both maintain their roles as opposing negotiators and assist each other in rooting out malefactors. All while coming closer to figuring out what they can be to each other.

When Goddess came out in 2011, it looked like a one-off, but I so wanted more. This time, there is an announcement that book 3, Blade to the Hunt, will be released in November 2014. I can hardly wait.

*Reviewer’s note: To my utter delight, there are ads for Goddess with a Blade and Blade to the Keep on Seattle Metro Buses. Seeing “Reading Reality” on the ad as the source for the quote was beyond awesome.

blade to the keep bus ad

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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