When I really need a mental vacation, I turn to romantic urban fantasy for a light, fun read. Full Blooded (2012), by Amanda Carlson, was just what I was looking for when I was going through a stressful time. It’s the first in Carlson’s JESSICA MCCLAIN werewolf series.
Full Blooded introduces us to our protagonist, Jessica, who wakes up in the middle of a change she shouldn’t be having, as women have never been able to change into werewolves before. She’s the first of her kind, and her father is coincidentally a very powerful, very important man in the pack hierarchy. Jessica lives under a false identity doing what many protagonists in urban fantasy do: private investigation. Jessica is tracked down by a mercenary rather quickly, and, helped along by her father’s high status, a war breaks out as superstitious werewolves (and others) try to kill her for fear that she’ll bring down their race.
Sounds interesting, right?
Well, it kind of is. Carlson writes a fast-paced book. It doesn’t take long to devour the whole thing, and while there are plenty of clichés thrown in for good measure (like the uber hunk mercenary and Jessica’s sudden ability to do something no one else can do, and the fact that she’s a PI of sorts), they can almost be ignored. Carlson keeps the plot moving quickly, and there really isn’t time to sit and think about all the clichés or the things you’d rather she had done differently.
Full Blooded, however, does have some problems with Jessica falling into and out of serious trouble a little too easily. It seems like the trouble she finds is almost too convenient and, with some narrow escapes toward the end of the book, I had the distinct feeling that her ability to find protection was a bit too convenient to be believed, as well.
My main issue with Full Blooded was that I felt like the entire novel was a setup for a relationship between the protagonist and someone else. The first half of the novel is a lot of mystery, banter, and working up the sexual tension. In the second half there’s a sex scene, which isn’t too over-the-top. The two realize that they are “meant to be” and “bonded for life” almost too quickly. They fall into this bond so suddenly that it’s almost jarring. Then there’s tons of end-of-the-book action, [Highlight the following text if you want to read a spoiler] said bonded man is taken away [end spoiler], and readers will have to read the second book to find out what happens.
In summation, Full Blooded was a fun read. Yes, there are some clichés here, but the plot is absorbing and quick-paced. Carlson quickly finds her voice and characters become rather distinguishable as the book progresses. My only true complaint is that, while Jessica’s development is interesting, less time was spent on her and what her ability to transform meant, and more on building up a romance that will obviously be important to the series as it progresses.
Is that enough to keep me away from reading the series? Obviously not, as I read book two, Hot Blooded, as soon as I finished Full Blooded.