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REVIEW: Blood Ties Book One: The Turning by Jennifer...

Dear Ms. Armintrout:

Blood Ties Book One:  The Turning When I finished with this book, I thought that there were some people who were not going to be happy if they bought this book thinking it was a romance (shelved in the romance section, published by Harlequin). But then I looked at the cover and thought, the buyers of this book have to be aware that this is something different.

And it is. It is scary, gory, horrifying, sad, and maybe a bit redemptive. I can’t say I’ll ever read it again. But I could not put it down and I am marking my calendar for February 2007 because I can’t wait to read the next one in your series.

The story opens with Dr. Carrie Ames, a young resident, visiting the morgue. In the morgue she searches for John Doe, a patient which she was unable to treat because the condition in which he presented was too gory for her. She goes to face her fear and when she does, she is attacked by him. Blood from John Doe gets into her system and she turns. Carrie is a wonderful narrator and you do a great job of showing us things and not telling us. She has a strong sense of self preservation and recognizes both that she wants to live and that there are some things worse than death.

In looking for help to cope with her vampirism, she meets Nathan Grant and his foster son, Ziggy. Nathan is a vampire who works for the Movement. The Movement is an organization that is dedicated to the wiping out of vampires. Nathan gets a kill order for John Doe aka Cyrus. Cyrus is an old and mean vampire who keeps making new vampires for a couple of different reasons, the main one being that he wants a companion.

Cyrus is Carrie’s sire and the blood tie is a strong one. It causes both of them to have strong feelings for one another. Carrie is inextricably drawn to Cyrus and the blood tie binds her to him, even as he physically and emotionally abuses her. The scenes which feature Carrie in Cyrus’ care are painful to read because the blood tie convinces Carrie that she wants Cyrus and his attention and his abuse. It was like watching a battered woman in a terrible relationship and wishing that person would wake up to the realization that something is very wrong.

I can’t emphasize enough that this book is not a romance. It has an underthread of romance between Nathan and Carrie and their relationship juxtaposed against that of Carrie and Cyrus’ further illuminates how horribly used Carrie was by Cyrus. But Nathan has his own terrible demons to overcome before any fulfilling relationship can begin between Carrie and him.

There were definite inconsistencies in the world building that I really can’t go into without spoiling some of the storylines. These inconsistencies seemed to be forced into the book in order for you to have the outcome you desired. However, I really appreciated the fact that your vampires acted like vampires. They weren’t the sissified do gooders of other series. They are beasts that act primal. When Nathan breaks down because of what he is, it is completely believable because of you have so well protrayed the horror that it is to be a vampire.

From a writing standpoint, your book has a couple of themes that were replayed in each person’s life during the story with different endings to those themes. I thought that was quite effective, if ham fisted at times. Overall, this was a great vampire/horror book that lovers of Laurell K Hamilton will not want to miss. B+ for the book. If you want to send me the arc for the next one, I am not turning it down!

Best regards


P.S. I saw an excerpt at your website from a review done by Romantic Times Book Club that said this book had a “eternal romantic triangle.” What was that reviewer smoking? This book has no eternal romantic triangle. Did we even read the same book? Because I am not sure how a relationship that features a person who likes someone but is physically and emotionally abused by someone else can really be termed a “romantic triangle.”

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. jaye
    Jun 07, 2006 @ 17:41:28

    Admittedly, I’ve skimmed this review, just in case there were spoilers. I bought this book a couple of days ago and I’m really enjoying it. I absolutely agree about the ‘non-romance’. It’s not a cross-genre romance. It’s mainstream/fiction with a ‘romantic’ thread (not even sure I should call it a subplot.) While I have been able to this book down to do other things, once I get my nose in it, time just seems to fly. Like you, I’ll be looking forward to the next installment.

  2. Tara Marie
    Jun 07, 2006 @ 17:47:17

    I’ve got this book on order, so I’m pleased to see a B grade, but I didn’t read the review. I’m really looking forward to it and like Jaye, I don’t want to risk spoilers.

  3. AngieW
    Jun 07, 2006 @ 18:15:54

    I got an ARC of this book. I didn’t make it past 30 pages. I picked it up again the other day and ended up putting it in a pile to give away. Just didn’t grab me :(

  4. Jorrie Spencer
    Jun 07, 2006 @ 19:26:10

    Hmmm, I’m curious despite the fact that I usually avoid vampires. The last vampire book I read where I thought vampires acted like vampires was Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. Though this doesn’t really sound similar!

  5. Keishon
    Jun 07, 2006 @ 20:21:25

    I didn’t read the review either but pushed up the pile, put the Chance book down for right now. Hope I like it, too.

  6. Cece
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 09:43:46

    *typing with eyes shut*

    I read the excerpt on her site after my CP blogged about wanting it and OH OH OH I want it too!!!!!!

    Definitely sounds like my cuppa tea :)


  7. jaye
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 09:58:37

    Angie, I’m surprised the first 30 pages, didn’t grab you. I was thinking that the first 30 pages/first chapter were the most compelling. Afterwards I think the ‘tone’ changed a bit and that’s why I have been able to put this book down from time to time, plus a few other quibbles, and why I suspect it won’t be a keeper. But it definitely is a B read for me, the characters of Nate/Cyrus and Carrie hold my interest, and I’ll probably keep up with the series.

  8. Shannon
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 11:30:58

    I’m not sure if I even reached 30 pages. Probably, but not much further. It was weird, and enough stuff didn’t make sense right off that I had to keep rereading.

    Maybe I’ll try it again in the future, because it really sounds like something I should have enjoyed, but with great new books coming out every week…probably not.

    If I had to put my finger on something specific, I think the situation was interesting, but I didn’t personally find the narrative voice engaging.

  9. raine
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 11:43:56

    I couldn’t make up my mind whether I’d try this one or not.
    Read an excerpt. It’s…raw.

    Picking it up this weekend. :-)

  10. Jane
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 13:37:04

    My reviews must be really spoiler filled. I will have to work on that.

    I completely hear what AngieW and Shannon are saying because if you don’t like the narrator in a first person book, you aren’t going to like the story.

    There were definitely things that weren’t as well done as they could have been (I thought the initial attraction between Nathan and Carrie was forced), it was such a different book for me. The vampires of most novels are quite harmless, almost tame. Even in the JR Ward books, the vampires like to party more than they like to feed. In this book, the vampires are beasts and act like it.

  11. Tara Marie
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 13:51:49

    In this book, the vampires are beasts and act like it.

    Now, I really can’t wait for it to show up. One of my bigget peeves with paranormal romances is they’re not scare enough.

  12. May
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 14:58:00

    Actually, this book ranks number 2 on the June releases one–topped by the wonderful Lynn Viehl.

    Not too happy about hearing about worldbuilding inconsistencies, but if the voice is compelling enough, I’ll get the next book for sure.

  13. May
    Jun 08, 2006 @ 14:59:43

    Oops, I mean, June releases I want. Sorry, brain damaged today.

  14. Jen
    Jun 10, 2006 @ 07:38:42

    Hey everyone!

    I’m glad to see so much discussion on my book! You guys all have some great points and you seem like you are truly hardcore book fans!

    Keep up the good work, this looks like a great community!

  15. Deborah Taylor
    Jun 25, 2006 @ 21:25:49

    I liked the book a great deal, up to the very end. However, the death of Cyrus and the means by which it was accomplished, was so ridiculous, I actually looked for some place to comment on it! No WAY would a vampire hand over the very thing that could destroy him, to anyone! Right? Also, the whole thing about frosty breath, so unreal! I mean, if she’s dead as well, she’s going to notice her lover having a low body temp? I don’t think so!

  16. Jane
    Jun 25, 2006 @ 21:48:13

    [quote comment="1703"] However, the death of Cyrus and the means by which it was accomplished, was so ridiculous, I actually looked for some place to comment on it! No WAY would a vampire hand over the very thing that could destroy him, to anyone! Right? Also, the whole thing about frosty breath, so unreal! I mean, if she’s dead as well, she’s going to notice her lover having a low body temp? I don’t think so![/quote]

    I agree. The world building niggles were strong. That wasn’t the only problem I had. I didn’t feel like it was well explained that Nathan could become her new sire. It wasn’t explained why, if the sire’s draw was so strong, how Cyrus’ past love (Eleanor?) was so indifferent to him. Despite the world building problems, I thought that it is a different and exciting entrant into the paranormal realm, for me.

  17. Nicole
    Jun 26, 2006 @ 16:27:32

    ok i don’t care if it’s summer or not getting my attiction with a book is really hard . And even if I am 13 and probly my friensd are swimming and stuff I rather be stuck in my room and read this book again. i mean I stayed up till 5:00 reading and i just finished more then ten minutes ago.

  18. Tracy C.
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 22:01:56

    OMG, I loved this book, beside J.R. Wards series this is my favorite book and I can’t wait till Feb. 2007 for the next book..It is gory, but I could not stop reading it…I am not sure how many books the author plans to write but I will continue to read them till she stops..I hope she keeps them coming for a long time!! This writer has a unique writing style and she keeps the stroy moving and you can’t wait to turn the page. I am looking forward to reading about Carrie and Nathan and watching their relationship grow more over the next few books…Also I want to find out if Ziggy is dead or not!!!!!!

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  21. Alejandra
    May 20, 2011 @ 00:39:39

    I’m totally reading this book… It first got me confussed because there is a Blood Ties book by Tannya Huff (Vicky Nelson series) that I’ve read before and almost think they were the same… I’m preaty sure the review you read at Romantic Times Book Club was from Huff’s Blood Ties not this one, because in the first ther IS a love triangle. Huff books are highly recommended by me ;) Love triangle+ vampires+ detective plot= heaven.

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