‘Touch the Dark’ from the BLURB:
Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits-talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead. The ghosts of the dead aren't usually dangerous; they just like to talk...a lot.
The undead are another matter.
Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires. But when the bloodsucking Mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she's forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection. The undead senators won't help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire-and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay...
When we meet Cassie in ‘Touch the Dark’ she has been in hiding for 3 years from the vampire master who kept her under lock and key throughout her childhood. The vampire used her ‘seer’ gifts for his own financial gains, and since running away and hiding from him, Cassie is sure that when he finds her he will kill her. As readers we are thrown right into the thick of the action – just like Cassie herself as an ordinary day turns into her worst nightmare when a mysterious message arrives telling her she has been found. From that moment on the pace of each book is high-speed, as Cassie’s magic matures and strengthens and more people become interested in owning her powers.
Cassie is a great character. Reading her adventures and near-misses you get the impression that she is holding onto her sanity by a string – juggling all of the curve balls life is throwing at her, hoping to hell she can just get through the day without a major catastrophe. She isn’t your typical kick-ass female lead. She’s clumsy, scared, a little bit naïve, and utterly ill-equipped to deal with her newfound powers. But she’s also determined to put on a brave face and ‘fake it till she makes it’. It’s great to read Cassie’s inner doubts in contrast to her ballsy attitude when dealing with the vampire community. Best of all she also enjoys a good whinge now and again. Cassie is at her funniest when she is fed-up and cursing lady fate – and it’s refreshing to read a powerful UF protagonist have a minor melt down; it humanizes and endears them to me.
This UF series also has one steamy love triangle at its centre. First, there’s Mircea – brother to the infamous Vlad Tepes (Dracula) who is also one of the most powerful masters in the vampire senate. Cassie has known Mircea (and had a crush on him) since she was a little girl.
Then there’s Mage (magician) Pritkin – initially sworn to kill Cassie for her affiliation with the vampires, he eventually (luke)warms to her and begrudgingly agrees to teach her to use her newfound powers.
Both romances are extremely sparky – and fans of the series are divided on who is more deserving of Cassie’s affections. Karen Chance clearly loves toying with her readers when it comes to writing ‘will they or won’t they’ for Cassie’s men – and it is great fun to get sucked into the triangle.
Warm lips found my neck. “The only humans here tonight are entertainment and food,” he murmured, a husky whisper in the dark. “Which are you?”
At first glance the Cassandra Palmer series isn’t that much different from lots of other Urban Fantasies currently knocking around. The ingredients may be similar, but it’s how Chance mixes it all together that makes this series so worthwhile. The added element of ‘time travel’ to a vampire-heavy story is also really fascinating to read. The time travel aspects gets a little more complicated as the books progress, but it’s clear that Chance knows where her series is going and the overall story arc for Cassie - so you don't mind tagging along for a sometimes bumpy ride.
I love this series; it is one of my favourites. Chance started a spin-off in 2008 called ‘Dorina Basarab, Dhampir’ which is a bit darker and a great read for Mircea fans. Highly recommend if you are a lover of urban fantasy (with a dash of paranormal romance).