Friday, 15 July 2011

Book Review: Taken by the Others by Jess Haines

Title: Taken by the Others
Author: Jess Haines
Series: Book #2 in the H&W Investigations series
Number of pages: 352 pages 
Publisher: Kensington Books
Release Date: 1 January 2011
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository

Grade: 5 stars

Novellus perfectus!
Goodreads appetizer: Once, New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest's most pressing problem was keeping her agency afloat. Now she's dealing with two dangerous, seductive vampires who have been enemies for centuries. The only thing Max Carlyle and Alec Royce agree on is that they both want Shia - for very different reasons. Max is determined to destroy Shia for killing his progeny, while Royce's interest is a lot more personal. That's not sitting well with Shia's werewolf boyfriend, Chaz. As the feud between Max and Royce gets ever more deadly, a powerful vampire-hunting faction is urging Shia to join their side. Shia has always believed vamps were the bad guys, but she's discovering unexpected shades of grey that are about to redefine her friends, her loyalties - and even her desires.

My Thoughts: When I picked up Hunted by the Others the first book in the series I had high expectations: some of my favourite bloggers stated it was the beginning of a fantastic new series and gave it 5 stars (and that coming from Abigail is quite rare, so I was impressed and my curiosity was piqued). My impressions of Hunted by the Others were that the narrative flew so naturally, that before I realized it I was already 200 pages in the story! But besides Jess Haines' flowing and engaging writing what I enjoyed the most was what a different kind of heroine she made Shia. Shia is regular, she is just like you and me, an ordinary girl with no tough chick attitude, no superpowers and no kickass boots. Shia is terrified by the Others (that's how the supernatural species (vampires, werewolves, witches, faes, etc.) are called in this universe) and her fear and reaction to danger is so real and logical that after all the tough heroines running head first into a fight she was a fresh breeze.

I just gave you this short introduction because what I loved about the first book was present in book #2  Taken by the Others as well and it even got better!

The novels in the H&W Investigations series feel like short chapters in Shia and co's life. Shia is a wonderful narrator: her voice is fresh, real and entertaining. Her biting sarcasm in her inner monologues is to die of laughter. Believe me it was excruciatingly difficult to only pick a few, because Shia's sarcasm and snark knob is constantly turned on and she has the best one liners. A few examples:

I’d picked them up way back when I thought Royce was trying to kill me. Turned out at the time Royce just wanted to make me his living slave and it was someone else who was out to kill me. Funny how these things turn out.

“You’re the one who decided it was such a great idea to follow in Rohrik Donovan’s footsteps and get people to see the warm, fuzzy-bunny side of vampires after all.”

Jesus H. Christ on a stick, I’ve never come that close to being vamp chow before. It was one thing to face Royce in open battle, knowing we would kill each other if we could. Quite another to have him go from friendly and cordial to I’m-about-to-eat-your-face-pass-the-salt-please.

Since Jack was all too keen to have me join the Psychos R Us...

What does Ms. Manners say you do after drinking a vampire’s blood? Thank him? Curse him? Run screaming from the room?

The whole gang is back: our favourite vampire Alec Royce who is just as irresistible and mysterious as before, Chaz who gets even more irritating than before and poor Arnold and Sara who get even less screen time than before. 

I agree with some fellow fans when asked what makes this series so great and they reply: the characters. I would even be more specific and say it's the interaction between these characters. The banters crack with dry sarcasm, innuendo is dripping from the dialogues, the conversations, looks and small gestures between Shia and Royce are enough to make you squirm in your seat and feel your skin prickle with awareness. The tension between these two is phenomenal: Royce is the charming, irresistible vampire who oozes power and danger. He wants Shia for some reasons we can guess and others we have no idea about and Shia is completely freaked out by him in almost every scene they are together. His being a vampire and the depth of his powers terrifies her. Yet, at the same time we feel that there is a spark of interest even if buried deep down under all her fear.

I'm not a fan of Chaz. Which believe me is shocking because I'm a werewolf fan, love those shifter boys, but here Chaz just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it is his baby blue eyes (don't really sound that manly especially when compared to Royce's intense dark gaze), or his vanity, or his not having a real responsible job, but he seems like a boy in the body of a man to me. Despite his lovey-dovey behaviour towards Shia I don't see or feel the chemistry, the heat or simple affection between them. 

I love in this series that Shia has her best girl friend at her side. Unfortunately a lot of UF heroines have to be alone, but Sara is a great addition and I am happy for Shia's sake that she has a best friend in whom she can confide and with whom she can stay real. 

I really enjoyed the new development in Taken by the Others that Jess Haines introduced and included the White Hats more, and I even got a new favourite character in Devon's person! He is sweet, and brave and so adorable. A great addition to the team and nice to have another human protecting Shia's back.

Taken by the Others is full of non-stop action and thanks to Shia's narrative the reader feels as involved as if we were right in the middle of the action, prepare yourself for a few hours of nail-biting, heart-thumping because Jess Haines won't give you a moment of respite (but aren't we the masochists because we just love it? :-p).

Verdict: In Taken by the Others Jess Haines ups the thrill, the risks and the consequences. She takes Shia further down a road she never would have chosen to travel and I was curious to see how things will resume after everything that has happened in Book #2. A fantastic continuation to the series, I enjoyed Taken by the Others even more than the first book!

Those UF fans who haven't read this series yet, you HAVE too! Disregard the hideous cover, this series is wonderfully entertaining, trust me, you don't want to miss out on it.

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Writing: 10/10
Cover: 2/10 - only because I like the moon and the purple background, but as Tori said this is such an infuriating cover flop!

Books in the series:

Buy it:

The BookDepository 

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