Earlier this month, I won the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of When Blood Calls by J.K. Beck. This is Book 1 of the Shadow Keepers series. Book 2 (When Pleasure Rules) and 3 (When Wicked Craves) come out at the end of September and the end of October and there is mention of the possiblity of Books 4-6 as well. First, the book is a paranormal so there are vampires and shape-shifters and were-creatures and other characters that are brand-new to me. If that is not your cup of tea, you probably won't like it. Also, if you don't like romance, you probably won't like this book. If you especially don't like paranormal creatures and romance, seriously, just move on. If you're still with me, When Blood Calls reads more of a mystery or crime detective novel at first but, you know, with a vampire as the murder suspect. The main heroine is human so you get introduced to the world through her eyes even if you don't meet her right away. Because it is the first book of the series, I found the beginning purely an introduction into the universe. It was even difficult to tell who the main characters were at first, but that became evident after a couple of chapters or in the next paragraph as I'm going to tell you.
The basic storyline is that a judge is found dead after being drained of his blood. An officer learns of his last thoughts and, combined with evidence at the scene, concludes Lucius Dragos is the one at fault. So, a team gets together and arrests the vampire. In the meantime, the courts hire Sara to be the prosecutor in the case because she's great at what she does and because she's somewhat immune to vampire mind influence. Of course, to make things complicated, Lucius and Sara had a hot one-night stand the night before the murder. So, that's the storyline in a nutshell. Sara needs to prosecute Lucius, and she wants to win very badly, but if she wins, Lucius is put to death which she doesn't really want because she's drawn to him and he to her.
The romance is slow to develop though it wouldn't make sense if it was rushed - and I should phrase that it was well-paced, and the book reads as an introduction into the series. However, the romance is there and ends leaving the reader satisfied as well as the characters if you know what I mean. I've read a lot of first books in series, and this is one that I truly enjoyed and didn't feel like I was reading a giant prologue. I liked that Sara was strong and smart and ambitious. I liked how both characters really gave to each other instead of the relationship being one-sided - and that's in and out of bed. If I'm reading a romance, that's very important to me. I want there to be a solid relationship and more than attraction or one-sided blind love. Lastly, considering that a lot went on throughout the book in introducing a lot of characters, a lot of types of characters and setting up the scene for the books to come, it was easy-to-follow and kept my attention. I don't think it is a book that I would have normally picked up without a friend's strong recommendation, but I did enjoy it and will read the second book in the series.