Release Date: May 10, 2011
Series: #1 in the Secret McQueen books
More Info: Amazon
Some secrets are dangerous. This Secret is deadly.
Secret McQueen, Book 1
For Secret McQueen, her life feels like the punch line for a terrible joke. Abandoned at birth by her werewolf mother, hired as a teen by the vampire council of New York City to kill rogues, Secret is a part of both worlds, but belongs to neither. At twenty-two, she has carved out as close to a normal life as a bounty hunter can.
When an enemy from her past returns with her death on his mind, she is forced to call on every ounce of her mixed heritage to save herself—and everyone else in the city she calls home. As if the fate of the world wasn’t enough to deal with, there’s Lucas Rain, King of the East Coast werewolves, who seems to believe he and Secret are fated to be together. Too bad Secret also feels a connection with Desmond, Lucas’s second-in-command…
This book contains a sarcastic, kick-ass bounty hunter; a metaphysical love triangle with two sexy werewolves; a demanding vampire council; and a spicy seasoning of sex and violence.
The writing wasn't anything spectacular and the plot was nothing unusual, but the concepts and characters introduced caught and kept my interest. Dean has created an interesting mythology and social structure for her supernaturals. This despite using some of my least favorite tropes - 1) the destined mates, 2) the three way triangle, and 3) a hero, or heroine if you prefer, who is ALL THAT, with a destiny she can't imagine. So, you might expect I wouldn't like the book.
You'd be wrong. The cover blurb drew me in, the tropes irritated me, but it's the world and the characters that held me. Sierra Dean's character building is very good. Secret McQueen is 22 years old but has seen so much and had so much turmoil that many others in her position would likely call it quits. With a foot in the werewolf world and a foot in the vampire world, all she's trying to do is keep her footing. Life is never that simple.
She identifies herself as a vampire and ignores her wolf half, denying that werewolves are even people. She is really quite ignorant concerning werewolves, something that Desmond, Lucas's second, remarks on:
"It's true, then, what Lucas said. You really are ignorant of the ways of your own people." I bristled. 'Wolves are not people.'
She very quickly gets a crash course in werewolf customs, including soul bonding, otherwise known as destined mates, one of Bea's top 5 least favorite tropes. Soul bonding, to be fair, is more than just destined mates, it isn't even always about sex. The werewolf king Lucas explains it thus:
"...There is a call put out by the beasts inside of us that is meant for a select few to hear. It was how I chose Desmond to be my second. His wolf answered the call of my own when we were still very young, before either of us had even been turned. The call is the reason you felt me on the patio tonight."
When Secret is around either Lucas or Desmond, she "tastes" them, a certain flavor fills her mouth - Lucas tastes like cinnamon and Desmond like lime. This reminded me very much of Tony in the Salzi books C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp who identifies emotions by associating them with other smells - fear smells like burnt coffee, etc. It's unusual, though not completely unexpected, for there to be a three way soul bonding. Since Lucas and Desmond are soul bonded to each other, Secret's bond is to both men. Both men are accepting of this but the practicalities of making it work are another matter. There was one scene where I wanted to smack Secret for being sleazy:
"Is it ok to sleep with someone and say my metaphysical connection to him made me do it? Ok, that's actually a pretty good excuse."
Umm, no, it's not. For me, that's a cop out, a failure to take responsibility for your own actions. It also reminded me uncomfortably of Laurell K Hamilton Anita Blake and the aurdeur (a metaphysical thing where she constantly hungers for sex and it's ok for her to sleep with any guy she wants. Bugs the crap out of me no end.)
At first I found Secret to be arrogant, cocky and full of herself. And she is, but she is also funny, determined, loyal to her friends (what ones she has), impulsive, and smart. She starts out stereotypical but Dean develops her and fills her out. We see her relationships with Holden, her handler from the vampire council, Mercedes, a local detective, and Keaty, her friend and associate, and her developing relationships with Lucas and Desmond. Secret learns a lot about herself in the story and some of those discoveries are not pleasant (family can be such a pain, lol).
It doesn't take long before Secret's new life with Lucas and the wolves collides with her job as a hunter for the Vampire Council and that's when the action really kicks in. The story has just about everything you could want - spooky vampires, hunky werewolves, humans who, for the most part, are unaware that monsters exist, romance, sex, treachery, intrigue, fight scenes, etc. Dean makes it all work together and I flew through the last 2/3 of the book.
The cliffhanger at the end had me going "What? Wait, no! You can't do that." I am looking forward to the next book, the prequel and the Christmas short story (which Sierra was talking about on twitter and I teased her about since she was writing it in April). While there is a lot that isn't new, Dean makes it fresh and interesting. It's worth your while to pick up this book and read it. If I could enjoy it despite some of my least favorite tropes and the occasional dry writing, chances are good that you will too.
I received the ebook from the author for review.