Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. So far, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing.
Back home in Brooklyn after the demise of her insane uncle Dracula, Dory’s hoping her life is about to calm down. But then she gets some visitors. A friend wants Dory’s help in finding a magical Fey relic, and the gorgeous vampire, Louis-Cesare, is desperate to find his former mistress Christine.
Dory and Louis-Cesare quickly discover that the same master vampire Christine is bound to is also rumored to be in possession of the relic. But when the master vampire turns up dead, they realize that there’s more at stake than a missing mistress. Someone is killing vampire Senate members, and if Dory and Louis-Cesare can’t stop the murderer, they may be next…
This is the second book in Karen Chance’s series ‘Dorina Basarab’, which is a spin-off of her popular Urban Fantasy series ‘Cassandra Palmer’.
One problem I have with Karen Chance is her penchant for a very slow beginning. I don’t know why, but all of her books seem to stall in the beginning – usually by having her title character carry out some menial task that has her flying solo for the first 60 pages or so before the cast of secondary characters burst onto the scene. The same thing happens in ‘Death’s Mistess’ as we read about Dorina going on a vampire-hunt sanctioned by the vampire senate and her father, Mircea.
It feels like ‘Deaths Mistess’ stalls more than any of Chance’s other books because a certain French vampire hottie is noticeably absent for the first 100 pages or so. Louis-Cesare is mentioned in passing and on Dorina’s mind, but he takes too long to make an appearance and it felt like the first half of the book was just a slow wind-up to that cameo. On the upside, when Louis-Cesare does enter stage right it’s a doozy as he and Droina pretty much pick up where they abruptly left off in ‘Midnigt’s Daughter’.
He grasped my hips, holding me tight as it went on and on, bright shock waves radiating outward to my skin, like my body was a live-wire that kept pulsing with pleasure. My hands fell away after a moment, too weak to hold on. He laid me back against the desk, kissing my neck under my sweat-slicked hair. My eyes slipped closed on a satisfied, groaning sigh.
“If that was hello, you need to go away more often,” I told him shakily.
I struggled with the storyline of this book. There’s lots of action and many over-lapping storylines as various vampires are murdered and runes stolen. It’s a lot to take in and a bit difficult to explain because of Chance’s penchant for summary over scene. What saves the book is secondary characters like Louis-Cesare and a beheaded vampire called Ray. But especially Dorina’s father, Mircea.
One of the reasons I enjoy this spin-off series so much is because of the character development of Dorina’s father (and Vlad Tepes brother) Mircea. Even though Mircea is lover to Cassie in her title series, he is still very much an enigma to readers of the ‘Cassie Palmer’ books. In ‘Dorina Basarab’ Karen Chance takes more time to flesh Mircea out and reveal more about his past – and in ‘Death’s Mistress’ we learn plenty about Mircea and his relationship to Dorina’s mother. I love the character development, but it’s making me impatient for Mircea to open up more to Cassie in that series. I can only hope all these little tidbits about him in ‘DB’ mean he’s ready to open up to Cassie the same way he has to Dorina.
The big question on most reader’s minds is ‘do Dorina and Cassie meet in this book’? Answer – no. BUT for the first time Cassie and her relationship to Mircea is hastily discussed (but not in any detailed way that makes sense to Dorina who overhears the convo). There were references to Dorina and her mother in the 4th Cassie book ‘Curse the Dawn’ – and I think all these sly mentions are leading up to a Dorina/Cassie crossover. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on reader’s parts, because the idea of wise cracking Cassie Palmer coming face to face with her lover’s lunatic daughter is just too good to pass up, surely? At this point I think fans of both series are biting their nails for a Cassie/Dorina meeting – and if we don’t get it soon I think interest will wane. Especially because Karen Chance announced on her website that there would be no fifth Cassie Palmer book until Summer 2011 (due to health problems).
Chance has tried to pacify fans by promising them at least 4 short stories told from various character perspectives (Pritkin, Mircea, Claire & Francoise so far). These short stories will be free and available from Chance’s website, the first is Pritkin’s story and will be released on March 31st.
But even with this appeasement I think Chance fans will be disappointed if the third Dorina and fifth Cassie book don’t have a crossover meeting of the two heroines.
I didn’t love this second installment. There’s a lot of action to keep track of and many overlapping plot lines. I appreciated the fact that Chance delves deeper into Mircea’s background, but I’ll be mightily pissed if all those character revelations don’t lead to a Dorina/Cassie crossover in the fifth Cassie and third Dorina.