Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, urban fantasy
Series: Goddess with a Blade #7
Published by Carina Press on June 27, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
Trouble never takes a vacation in Bad Blood , the seventh installment in the epic Goddess with a Blade series by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Dane.
After spending the last two years locked in one deadly struggle after the next, Rowan Summerwaite deserves delicious meals, excellent sex and uninterrupted sleep on high-quality linens. But when two separate investigations converge in unexpected ways and a new threat to the Treaty blows into town, there’s no rest for the wicked.
And she’ll need help.
Genevieve Aubert, a seven-hundred-year-old witch from a powerful familial line, has become more than a formidable ally. To Rowan, she’s become a friend. To Darius, a Dust Devil from the Trick, where she’s now a priestess, she’s the key to unlocking his magic. The pretty flower to his motorcycles and bruised knuckles.
Soon, the dangerous reality becomes clear. It isn’t just wayward witches. It isn’t just egotistical Vampires. What’s brewing in the desert will take a witch, a Dust Devil and a human vessel to a goddess to save those they’ve sworn to protect.
If Eve Dallas had set her cap at being police commissioner instead of refusing more rank in order to continue to do the job she does best, she’d be a lot more like Rowan Summerthwaite than she already is. And they most certainly already are sisters under the skin – even though Rowan takes down criminal vampires while Eve catches criminals of the more humanly monstrous variety.
But Rowan has moved, not exactly ‘up’ in her world, but into a position where she’s stuck dealing with political crap instead of just kicking ass and taking names to put on gravestones. For those of her enemies that are human enough to still require such things, that is.
(I’m not really digressing this time around. I’ve always thought that Rowan and Dallas would get along like a house on fire – especially if some of their enemies were righteously roasting in said fire!)
Getting back to Rowan, however, there’s an element of each book in the series where Rowan begins the story in the process of dealing with the fallout from the last clusterfuck she had to fix. And that’s certainly true in Bad Blood.
At the same time, Bad Blood feels like, not exactly a ‘fresh’ start, but rather a point in the series where that cleanup has hit a new phase where it’s more preventive than reactive, and it gives the intricacies of the plot a bit of a reset.
Which was absolutely terrific for this long-term reader, because it made it really easy to slip right back into this world without needing to recall all the myriad details of Rowan’s long-running battle to clean up both her ‘Father’s’ rogue vampires AND the human asshats in her own organization, Hunter Corp.
At least, the story begins with an attempt at moving forward, only to discover that not only are the vampires playing more games than usual – including playing games with her Father, the First and their leader – but that the witches’ Conclave is also up to some surprisingly similar crap.
Because Rowan and one of the Conclave’s leaders, Genevieve Aubert, became besties in the previous book in the series, Blood and Blade, Rowan is more than happy to help Genevieve clean up that mess even as Genevieve helps her with the lingering issues in Hunter Corp.
Those issues dovetail neatly – or perhaps that should be messily – or both. Definitely both, as they are the exact same issue, being played out in different arenas. Both the vampires AND the witches think that they are superior to the original recipe humans that surround them – and believe that superiority gives them the right to ‘play’ with humans as they please.
Hunter Corp. is there to stop them both, and to prevent any of these immortal idiots from revealing the existence of the supernatural to those self-same humans. It’s just too bad that a bunch of selfish and self-indulgent idiots are living too deeply in the past to consider all the angles of their ridiculous campaign.
Too bad for them, that is.
Escape Rating A: I have a soft spot in my heart for the entire Goddess with a Blade series. The first book in the series, the Goddess with a Blade herself, was part of the first batch of eARCs I downloaded from Netgalley. I’ve been hooked ever since.
But that first book was OMG TWELVE YEARS AGO. That averages out to a long time between books, which wreaks more than a bit of havoc with remembering all the details with a series as intricately plotted as this one. Every book in the series has been, not just a direct response to the book before it, but a direct response that is still dealing with pieces of a huge plot to undermine Hunter Corp from within – along with various other asshattery that happens in the wake of that big mess.
Bad Blood, while it’s still cleaning up a bit of the previous mess, does read like a bit of a fresh start – even if that’s likely to be a fresh start because of a new and different plot full of asshattery that hasn’t yet fully emerged.
Which means that Bad Blood is a good place to get into – or back into – the Goddess with a Blade series. It’s not exactly a new set of problems, but it feels enough like it is to let someone who hasn’t read or re-read the whole thing recently to get right into the thick of it.
The other thing that makes this entry work as either a start or a fresh start is that the problems this go around feel all too much like real life in spite of the paranormal setting. It’s not just a story of immortal vampires messing with each other because immortality is boring. Instead, what we have are factions in two separate hierarchies that are each oozing with privilege who want a return to the ‘good old days’ that never really were and don’t care how much they have to lie to themselves and cheat and steal from everyone else to make it happen.
And haven’t we all witnessed that before?
It’s that grounding in the real that makes it easy to step into Rowan’s world, and it’s the continued development of Rowan’s personal relationships with her husband, her father and especially her own personal ‘Scooby gang’ that keep us in there with her. And isn’t that just like Dallas and Roarke all over?
In the end, as Rowan gets the ‘bad blood’ among the vampires’ council and the witches’ conclave to behave – at least those that haven’t already gotten dead in the crossfire – it’s clear that this is only the tip of another iceberg of asshattery that thinks it’s going to crash Rowan’s plans. I hope it happens soon, because this series has just gotten fun again and I want more!