My rating: 4 of 5 stars
You can’t pick up an urban fantasy these days without getting some variation on the “heroine in tough pose and generally without a head” cover. Nor are your chances good of finding an urban fantasy that does not involve vampires. Maria Lima’s Matters of the Blood has both of these things. But don’t let that stop you from picking this up, since it is in fact a fun read!
First up, this is actually less of an “urban” fantasy per se and more of a “rural” one. I’ve said in reviews of other things (c.f. Doranna Durgin’s A Feral Darkness) that I like seeing contemporary fantasy novels that aren’t set in major urban centers. Lima’s series is set out in a more rural stretch of Texas, and the setting alone adds a lot of color to the book.
Second, while Lima’s heroine Keira follows the standard mold of Heroine Who Has Great Magical Powers and Much Attitude But Who Really Just Wants to Be Left Alone, she’s nonetheless likable. Keira doesn’t go too overboard with the sass, and what attitude she’s got towards her family is justified! To balance that out, she’s got a lively friendship going on with her best friend Bea, and an intriguing almost-a-relationship with Adam Walker, the mysterious owner of a local dude ranch.
Which of course brings me around to the vampire part of the story. It’s not a spoiler to say that Keira discovers that OH HEY this guy’s a vampire; it’d almost be more surprising if she discovered he wasn’t, really. As a character Adam brings nothing new to the vampire milieu, but even given that, I liked him. He wasn’t overly angsty as a vampire love interest goes, which helped.
The mystery’s fun, too, as Keira, her brother Tucker, Bea, and Adam must investigate recent murders around their town–including that of Keira’s undertaker cousin Marty, the one member of their family who has no powers whatsoever. There are interesting power plays going on with Adam and his subordinates, and good backstory to bolster it all up. I’ll be coming back for more. Four stars.