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Joint Review – Blade on the Hunt (Goddess with a Blade #3) by Lauren Dane

blade on the hunt by lauren danePublisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Out now
Reviewed by: E and Marlene
How we got this book: eARC from the publisher

“When you awaken, you will have to find her yourself. Or she will find you.”
These were the words given to Rowan Summerwaite by the Goddess as Rowan lay clinging to life. Broken—but not defeated—by the ancient Vampire Enyo.
After weeks of mandatory down time, a recharged and vengeance-fueled Rowan heads out from her father’s Keep, leading a team of some of the most terrifying beings on earth with one goal in mind—track and eliminate the Vampire who attacked her.
But as the team moves across Europe and is hit with wave after wave of attacks, the tensions between Clive Stewart—the haughty, stylish Scion of North America whom Rowan grew even closer to during her recovery—and a rival Vampire ramp up. Befuddled, confused, flattered and annoyed, Rowan’s the woman in the middle. She’s not used to being claimed in a way that’s not about how strong her sword arm is or who raised her. Clive Stewart is everything she shouldn’t want in a man—he’s bossy, he’s a Vampire, and he considers her his—but she’s past denying how it makes her feel that he fights for her the way he does. She’s past denying she’s in love.
In contrast to the uneven footing falling in love has given her, Rowan is utterly certain she will locate her quarry. She’s stronger and more powerful than she’s ever been after the tests and bloody lessons of the last years. Her connection with the Goddess is seamless and the light of her mission burns from within. And she’ll need all the help she can get because it’s not very long before Rowan and her team realize the threat is far greater than one crazy old Vampire. There’s a war brewing and Rowan will fight it to the death. It’s what she was born to do.

This blurb came from the author’s  website at http://www.laurendane.com.

E: Dane is on my list of auto-buy authors and has been for years. As much as I enjoy her writing something about this series has really had me captivated since I started the first one, Goddess With a Blade, a few years ago. As I have gotten to know Rowan, Clive, and the other main characters I have found myself counting down to the release of each installment with great anticipation. Dane has built a complicated world populated with a variety of supernatural entities each with their own rules, quirks, and foibles who rub shoulders with humans and their drive to eliminate any challenges to the top of the food chain along with the not understood but feared “other”. Most of the supernatural entities don’t believe humans are at the top and in fact feel humans are little more than food, amusing and helpful at times, but food nonetheless. Over the centuries a group of humans and group of Vampires came to forge a sort of uneasy armistice bound by rules, reams of paperwork, and enforcers. However, as with any agreement between disputing parties, individuals always exist who want the agreement removed, or weighted heavily towards one side or the other so they exert influence in a variety of ways trying to gain an advantage.

Into this complicated mess came Rowan – with emotional and blood ties to humans, vampires, and an ancient Goddess determined to uphold the agreement and hunt down those who break its rules. Rowan’s involvement and success in maintaining the agreement led to her near death at the hands of one almost as ancient as her adoptive father possessing some of the power she gained from a crazed goddess. I absolutely loved watching Rowan on the hunt not just for what almost happened to her although it played a large part but to prevent the loss of countless lives.

Marlene: I have a soft spot in my heart for this series. The first book, Goddess with a Blade, was one of the first eARCs I got from NetGalley when I started Reading Reality. I loved it so much that I included it in my Best Ebook Romances list for Library Journal in 2011. (Blade to the Keep is on the 2014 list, partially because Blade on the Hunt didn’t come out in time)

As my friend E said, Dane’s worldbuilding in this series is incredibly rich and detailed. There have been a lot of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy series where the vampires are out of the coffin, but this one totally sells the idea that vampires are an apex predator that has kept itself hidden. Also, Dane does an excellent job portraying the complex political maneuvering that we have come to expect from vampire series.

Rowan is a fantastic character because she is herself an apex predator, but is not a vampire. As the living embodiment of the Celtic goddess Brigid, she has powers of her own. But Rowan is heavily involved with the vampires, on multiple levels. Her complicated relationship with the leader of the vampires, The First, gives new meaning to the phrase “dysfunctional family”. Theo is her foster father, but he is also the person who killed her biological parents. And he not only physically abused her throughout her childhood, he let members of his court do so as well. Yet, the layered complexity of their continuing relationship shows just how an abuse survivor can still love their parent, even if they are still very wary of the potential dangers.

Rowan is also a terrifically funny deadpan snarker. Rowan and Eve Dallas in J.D. Robb’s In Death series would get along famously.

E: One of the things I loved about this installment was being able to see more into Rowan and who she was underneath the snark and very real ability to kill just about anything or anything. I thought I had seen her depths during the second installment, Blade to the Keep, but it was fabulous learning she had a life completely outside of Hunter Corporation. Watching her soften and open up around Clive while maintaining her ability to both push his buttons and understand how/when to give because she cared deeply for him.

At the same time It was very entertaining to watch Clive deal with Warren and his interest in Rowan without losing his deadly edge or making it seem like Rowan had no say. The scene when Rowan and Clive dealt with what was happening was so much fun because the solution was a challenge to their usual sense of privacy and never to be repeated.

Marlene: And Rowan’s relationship with the head of the North American vampires, Clive, is just plain hot, while being equally multi-layered. These are complicated people who have come to a place where they “get” each other without needing to change each other.

The neat thing about Clive is that he totally understands that Rowan is a power in her own right. He is not interested in changing her, except to occasionally make her conscious of the danger she regularly places herself in. Rowan has an edge of violence that is necessary to keep her alive. Many men, particularly centuries-old vampires, would try to make her subservient, or obedient. Clive finds Rowan’s penchant for violence equal to his own, and it turns him on.

In spite of what should be insurmountable differences, Clive and Rowan are equals. The pissing contest that Warren gets into with Clive over Rowan just shows exactly how worthy of her Clive is, and how far out of touch Warren is.

Also Rowan thinks of Warren as an uncle, and can’t imagine him as anything else. Her “Ewww!” reaction is priceless.

E: In addition to revealing more about Rowan and the supernatural elements in the world, Dane kept the action moving as Rowan and her allies faced attacks from a variety of different directions. I loved how Rowan and Clive had to once more deal with Vampire politics getting in the way of her hunt. I can’t wait to see the fallout from those discoveries because I think it is going to be impressive. I am also looking forward to Rowan’s return to Hunter Corp. headquarters because she is going to clean house. I also found some interesting things out regarding magic users and what looks like an additional threat facing the world. I was also extremely satisfied by the results of Rowan’s hunt and how Rowan had to work to accomplish her goals.

The wait for this installment was certainly worth it. Dane proved yet again why I continue to seek out and recommend her books. I can’t wait to see what happens next in Rowan’s world and how she continues to mess up Clive’s proper British self.
I give Blade on the Hunt an A

Marlene: The world of Rowan Summerwaite continues to expand and take on depth. The vampires are one powerful faction, but the Hunter Corporation represents the human side of the equation. Dane’s introduction of magic practitioners has added a third layer. After all, if vampires are real, why not witches (or the equivalent)?

While the quest in this story involved Rowan’s need to take out the ancient (and crazy) vampire Enyo before her actions either kill a bunch of humans or his inability to deal with Enyo causes The First to go off the deep end and kill an even bigger bunch of humans, Rowan and Clive have a lot of other plates spinning.

The fastest spinning plate is Rowan’s problems in Hunter Corporation, or their problems with her. Rowan does not do politics well, but that does not justify the repeated attempts on her life by one of her fellow Hunter Corporation partners. The exposure of the complete plot looks like it’s going to be the story in the next book.

Thank goddess. There is someone at Hunter Corporation who needs to be exposed. And then killed with extreme prejudice. Or perhaps the other way around. I love Rowan so much, I can’t wait to see what she does next.
I also give Blade on the Hunt an A

By Marlene

Marlene is a librarian, ebook advocate, science fiction fan, and RPG fan who lives in Atlanta. She and her husband are owned by three cats, just ask them. She's a geek and a nerd and proud of it. She's also an avid reader of everything, including the back of the cereal box, and has been blogging since April 2011 at Reading Reality and is a reviewer at Library Journal as well as active on Goodreads.

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