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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Blood Lines' Blood series #3 by Tanya HUFF


From the BLURB:

Sealed away through unending centuries in a sarcophagus never meant to be opened, he had patiently waited for the opportunity to live again, for the chance to feed on the unwary and grow strong. Now, at last, the waiting had come to an end. Brought to the Egyptology Department of Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, the seals and spells that imprisoned him shipped away by his discoverers, he reached forth to claim the minds and souls of the unsuspecting city dwellers, to begin building an empire for himself and his god. And only three people had even the hint that anything was wrong.

For Henry Fitzroy, 450-year-old vampire, it began with a haunting, inescapable image of the sun, a terrifying symbol of death to one such as he. Fearing for his sanity, he called upon his sometime-lover and comrade in supernatural investigations, ex-cop Vicki Nelson, for help. And even as the two struggled to cope with Henry's obsession, Vicki's closest friend and former partner, Police Detective Mike Celluci was following up on two mysterious deaths at the museum, certain he was looking at murders, not accidents -- and equally convinced that the killer was a mummy brought back from the dead!

I really enjoyed this third novel of Tanya Huff’s ‘Blood’ series. I really didn’t like book #2, ‘Blood Trail’, because of the lack of development between the series’ supposed love interests, Henry and Vicki. I still have the same problem with Henry and Vicki’s under-developed relationship, but the mystery plot of ‘Blood Lines’ went a long way to making up my waning interest in this series.

In this book an Egyptian mummy is terrorizing Toronto. Mike Celluci is on the case, but he soon realizes that the supernatural element is over his head, so he enlists the help of his ex-partner Vicki Nelson, and her vampire side-kick, Henry Fitzroy.

The villain is a century’s old, previously entombed, Egyptian wizard/high-priest. I loved the Egyptian mummy plot of this book. So much so that I want to go out and read other books with a mummy/zombie plot. If you loved the 1999 film ‘The Mummy’ then this book is right up your alley. Sticking a mummy in modern-day (1990’s) Toronto made for a fabulously twisted whodunit with a fresh supernatural bent.

In about the last 3 or 4 chapters the stakes are raised to incredible heights as the mummy has Vicki in its sights and is hell-bent on eating her ‘ka’ (life force). Vicki is put into a situation no ex-cop wants to be in, and it’s a mad dash to the books finish line to see if Vicki can save herself, and stop Toronto from becoming an Egyptian monument.

I did love the action of this book. I’ve never read a mummy plot before (the closest I’ve come is Gail Carriger’s ‘Changeless’) and I loved how unique this supernatural story was.
My rating for this book is entirely thanks to the mummy plot. The character development however, once again left much to be desired...

I’m still uncomfortable with the development (or lack of) between Henry and Vicki. In this book there are lots of revelations concerning Vicki’s relationship (past and present) with Mike Celluci, and Henry’s feelings for Vicki. But still, I was unhappy with what Huff has to offer..... And once again the crux of my complaint is centred on Henry’s sexual relationship with ex street-rat and Vicki’s nineteen-year-old friend/informant, Tony.

Below is a scene that takes place outside of Henry’s apartment; Vicki is leaving as Tony is about to head in to see Henry;

“Hey, Victory, don’t sweat it.” As though he’d read her mind, Tony’s voice softened. “It’s easier for me. I didn’t really have a life till he showed up. He can remake me any way he wants. You’ve been you for a long time. It makes it harder to fit the two of you together.”
You’ve been you for a long time. She felt some of the tension begin to leave her shoulders. If anyone could understand that, it would be Henry Fitzroy. “Thanks, Tony.”
“No problem.” The cocky tone returned. “You want me to hail you a cab?”
“No.”

“Then I better get upstairs.”

“Before you split your jeans?”
“Jeez, Victory,” she could hear the grin in his voice, “I thought you couldn’t see in the dark.”

That scene is the most reaction readers get from Vicki concerning Henry’s relationship with Tony. Tony all but says he loves Henry and yes, he will be sleeping with him tonight, and Vicki merely sends him on his way. I’m still uncomfortable (on Vicki’s behalf) about the Henry/Tony pairing. But I’m mostly frustrated with Tanya Huff for dropping that massive bombshell and never delving deeper.

I’ve read through Amazon reviews of the ‘Blood’ series, to see specifically if other readers were disquieted by Tony’s role in Henry’s life. I only found one other reviewer who expressed dislike, and that was to do with the fact that Henry has a sexual penchant for men, as well as women. I like a good M/M romance as much as the next person, that’s not my problem (I actually wish that Huff had made Tony and Henry the series main HEA focus, throwing Vicki in makes things awkward and seedy). My problem is with the fact that Vicki is okay with her friend and protégé whom she has card for since he was 15, carrying on a sexual relationship with the same man that she is sleeping with. Ick.

Huff sheds a bit more light on Vicki and Mike’s past relationship, thereby exposing Vicki’s flaws. Turns out that while Vicki and Mike were ‘dating’ for 4 years, they were never exclusive. Vicki slept with other men, Mike with ‘bimbettes’. Vicki and Mike were perfectly alright with this set-up. But with the introduction of Henry, Mike suddenly wants a little more commitment from Vicki. He is even, *gasp*, contemplating settling down with her. But Mike dares not approach with Vicki, because he is well aware of her personal hang-ups.
Vicki is quite damaged when it comes to intimacy. Her father left her mother for a younger woman when Vicki was a child, and it seems that indiscretion has coloured Vicki’s entire romantic outlook. It sort of explains why Vicki is okay with having an open relationship with both Henry and Mike, and why the lack of definition regarding her and Henry’s partnership doesn’t faze her.

I think Huff has given Vicki too much baggage. Not only does she have a degenerative eye disease that meant she had to leave the job she loved, but Vicki puts on a macho/ballsy front in order to over-compensate for having lived and worked in a male dominated environment. She also has daddy abandonment issues and therefore cannot commit and cannot view sex as anything other than a temporary pleasure. It’s all a little too much, and almost turns Vicki into a caricature. She comes across as very angry, ‘the world is out to get me’ and nobody loves me. Urgh. It gets to be a little too much at times. If Huff had only made Henry (or Mike!) the one shining light in her life, the one point in which she can let her guard down and enjoy something. Instead, in this book both Henry and Mike lay their feelings about Vicki on the line... and she ignores them. Or as Vicki succinctly puts it:

It’s just like a man to want to complicate a perfectly good relationship.

Admittedly I wasn’t really buying Henry’s proclamations of love when he delivered them to Vicki (especially because he thinks similar thoughts about Tony, but Huff never addresses the double-up). I think Henry’s declaration of love came too soon and with too little development on his and Vicki’s relationship. But regardless of that, it was frustrating the way Vicki donned her armour and refused to acknowledge Mike or Henry’s professions of love. Grr! Huff is making Vicki very hard to swallow.

I did like this book. I appreciated Huff’s attempt to shed some more light on Vicki’s feelings for Henry and Mike... but it was a case of being ‘a day late and a dollar short’ when Huff already dropped the Henry/Tony/Vicki bomb in book #2 and once again refused to examine it in book #3. The mummy mystery saved this book and ensured I’d kept reading...

3.5/5

4 comments:

  1. nice review hon! I think i'll keep reading ur reviews to where this leads =))

    was the show based on these books called "Blood Ties"?

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  2. @ Larissa - Yes, 'Blood Ties', a Canadian TV show that only lasted 2 seasons. As I understand it, the first episode loosely followed book #1, but then the show took creative licence. I'm definitely going to check it out - especially because the guy playing Henry Fitzroy is *HOT*!

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  3. ooooh I remember the show being on in Brazil, but i dont know why, it never really grabbed my attention... the main guy was HOT though =)


    btw... I received the books today! =) Thanks so mcuh! You Rock! =)

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  4. I've given up on book 5, the only one I have, because of the characters I must confess and thought I might like them better by reading the earlier books, but reading your reviews I think I'll skip this series. At the moment I'm reading Huff's 'The Enchantment Emporium' and I like that one much better sofar.

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