Blood Heat: Rocky start, but ultimately a good read

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Maria Lima Blood Lines 3: Blood KinBlood Heat by Maria Lima

Keira has spent the last few months in heir training, learning the magical and political ropes from Gigi, the family matriarch. Now she and her partner Adam are getting ready to throw a big reception at which they will formally present themselves as the rulers of their area.

One group, however, wants to meet her early: a pack of werewolves who have recently settled near the neighboring town of White Rock. Several pack members have gone missing lately, and the alpha wants Keira’s help in figuring out what happened to them. Keira soon learns that there are those in White Rock who aren’t too happy about the werewolves’ arrival.

The early chapters of Blood Heat are a little frustrating, and the main reason is Keira herself. Her outbursts of temper can be annoying. She brushes off one of her brothers when he’s trying to tell her something important, for example, and berates a friend — an adult in her thirties — for getting pregnant. There were times I wanted to somehow transmit a chill pill through the book.

It gets better, though. The novel becomes a suspenseful portrayal of the devastating effects of bigotry. Maria Lima’s skill at creating a sense of place is in evidence here, too; a Texas heat wave makes a great backdrop and metaphor for the boiling tensions and fiery hatred that permeate the story.

Blood Heat is more political than the previous Blood Lines books have been. Occasionally it feels like Lima is taking potshots at small towns in general and at religion in general, but at other moments it’s clear that’s not her intent. Small towns can sometimes become clannish to the point of xenophobia, and religious groups can be corrupted if the wrong people get into power, and it’s that kind of situation that she’s describing. Keira mentions that White Rock hasn’t always been this way, and her own Rio Seco is even smaller but far more welcoming.

Overall, Blood Heat gets off to a rocky start but is ultimately a good read. I hesitate to say “enjoyable” because there’s a lot of heartbreak in the story, and the realistic nature of the threat makes it feel “closer to home” than bad faeries or vampires. Then, in the final scene, Keira gets some shocking news that promises a terrific fifth book. I can’t wait to see what Lima does with this new development.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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