An average morning is what Emma Johnson envisions when she visits Joe's Caf for a steaming cup of coffee. But the world isn't the place she imagined it to be, and neither is she... After Emma is rescued from a horde of bloodthirsty creatures, she discovers she is the daughter of a powerful Vampire from the House Deviard, her rescuer, Caleb, having been sent to see her safely home. For Caleb is also unique, a werewolf procured to protect the royal Vampiric bloodlines from harm - but nothing more. Soon, the undeniable connection Emma and Caleb share evolves beyond attraction into something unexpected. When she is forced to make a choice, what path will she take - vampire or wolf?
Review: Let me begin by telling you I'm biased. I am a complete fan girl of J. A. Saare. I don't know if it's her writing style, her voice, her characters, her world building, her smut or what, but I seem to like everything this lady writes.
This book follows the innocent Emmaline, who at the beginning of this book, knows nothing about the "real world", filled with shifters, vamps and assorted other supernatural creatures. She's in college, doesn't seem to have too much of a social life, and lives on her own. She lives on her own because her mother died when she was much younger, her father left her mother when she was preggers with Emmaline, and her grandmother is suffering from alzheimer's in a nursing facility. I love the name Emmaline. I've never heard of anyone called Emmaline in RL or in a book until this year, where I've read about two different Emmalines. I have to interject that there's a Ben Fold's song titled Emmaline that I couldn't get out of my head while reading this.
Anyhow, the story gets off to an action-packed beginning. Seemingly out-of-the-blue, nasty, deadly creatures begin to chase Emmaline. Of course, Emma has no clue about the supernatural world, and is basically running for her life. Until a hot hunk of a man grabs her and whisks her to safety. This is our first introduction to Caleb. Caleb is tall, dark and handsome. He is broad shouldered, has loose brown curls that sometimes fall into his eyes, and he has indigo blue eyes that shift color with his moods. His pal Derek is driving the car they escape in. When Caleb touches Emma, they both feel a current of electricity spark between them, and thus begins the courtship of Caleb and Emma. Along the way, Emma learns that Caleb and his pack were sent to protect Emma from a vampire hell-bent on destroying her. It turns out that Emma's long lost father, Luca, is a very powerful vampire, and he sent Caleb's pack to retrieve Emma and deliver her safely to his care.
Along the way, when Luca's right-hand man gets delayed, Emma must spend several days with Caleb, Derek, another werewolf named Billy, and a female werewolf named Sarah. Almost immediately, while visiting a werewolf bar/fight club, Caleb saves Emma from danger, and kisses her. And it was HOT. While kissing Emma, a strange smell of pine and woods marks the beginning of Caleb bonding with Emma. So, these two are star-crossed. Emma falls pretty hard for Caleb, and Caleb is putty in her hands. I enjoyed this middle part of the book, but there was very little action. It was mostly relationship building. This was a section dedicated to developing the Emma-Caleb bond. It was sweet and fun for me to read. I prefer more action in my books, but this was very interesting to read, and I think it laid the groundwork for the remainder of this book and the following books in this series. There is an especially hot scene when Emma goes to visit Caleb's parents that catapulted this book from YA-like to adult. Jaime Saare writes a lot of very good smut, so I'm glad this was changed from a YA to an adult book.
However, Emma and Caleb know that Emma must face her father. One, Luca won't rest until he can speak with Emma, and two, Emma needs to confront her demons. This is where it gets really good. While visiting Emma's home to allow Emma to pack, Caleb and his boss go out to pick up dinner. A bad thing happens to Emma, and Caleb immediately blames himself because he wasn't there to protect her. Although he loves Emma, he feels that he can't adequately protect her, and the scene at the airport, where Emma leaves to fly to Luca's, is heartbreaking.
Upon arriving at Luca's mansion, Emma tries to reach Caleb, but he refuses her calls. Emma is heartbroken and after much soul searching, she agrees to become a vampire and she agrees to date her father's right-hand man, Trent. Trent is tall and lean. He has white blond hair and aqua eyes. He has the power of telepathy and barges into Emma's mind whenever he feels like it. I didn't like Trent at first - I though he was a bit full of himself, but he definitely grew on me throughout the end of this book. He's smitten with Emma, and although Emma tries to forget Caleb, Trent knows that Emma will always have a special place for Caleb in her heart.
I don't want to spoil the ending, but there's a big showdown with a vampire prince that wants Emma under his watch because Emma will have a super power once she's a vamp. Luca tries to protect his daughter, but fails, and ultimately, another must save our fair Emmaline.
I enjoyed this book very much, especially the ending. I loved Caleb in the beginning, but thought he needed to be a bit more alpha-y. I was very angry with Caleb at one point in this book - his decision making is poor, and he doesn't trust himself and it causes some harm. He slowly turns into a more alpha character, and he doesn't disappoint. I like Emma, but I don't love her yet. She needs to be more in control of herself and her destiny. I adored Billy and was upset that he had to depart so early on. I liked Derek, and hope we see him again in Crimson Sunrise. I LOVED the hair cutting explanation (for those of you who have read this book, you know what I'm talking about). I felt bad for Trent. He's an excellent character, and I hope we see him again at some point in this trilogy.
There were a few things more towards the beginning of this book that I questioned. There were some cheesy lines thrown in, and Emma was way too "Pollyanna" for me in the beginning. And then, upon learning of the existence of supernatural beings and her own family tree, she takes it in stride, and doesn't really freak out. I think Emma definitely grew throughout this book, but not as much as Caleb ...Rawr! The characters in this book are not as well developed as say, Rhiannon and Disco from Saare's Rhiannon's Law series, but they do change towards the end. I think that in Crimson Sunrise, there will be more depth to these characters, which is something that Saare excels at.
I hope in Crimson Sunrise that we see more action and that we see Emma really come in to her own. I hope Caleb continues to grow and that Emma's relationships with all these characters continue to develop.
This is a lesser known Jaime Saare book, and if you enjoy UF and romance thrown in for good measure, then I think you'll enjoy this book.