Hot Blooded (2013) is the sequel to Full Blooded and the second in Amanda Carlson’s JESSICA MCCLAIN series. This review will contain some spoilers for the previous book.
Jessica’s mate has been stolen, and her goal is to get him back. Readers who are really hell-bent on the romance aspect of the series will find this rather frustrating. There are quite a few (logical) detours Jessica must make before she can get her man back. There’s business to put in order, and while that makes sense to me as an adult, and I respected Carlson for allowing Jessica to put things in order rather than running hell-for-leather into the action like so many other urban fantasy authors do, I can see where this might frustrate people and get them wanting the plot to move a bit faster.
That being said, all of Jessica’s slight detours in the beginning of the book actually ended up developing her character a bit more than I expected. Jessica isn’t just some hot chick who can kick ass, she’s responsible and cares enough about her family and business to fight her instincts and make sure things on the home front are okay before she runs into a situation she doesn’t understand and can’t really anticipate.
Jessica is on her own more in Hot Blooded than she was in Full Blooded. She is relying on her own instincts, and ends up getting help from vampires (a big no-no for werewolves) to get her mate back. Thus, Hot Blooded focuses a lot more on magic systems, supernatural cultural clashes, mythology and various other aspects of worldbuilding. Basically, all the worldbuilding that I felt the first book lacked was present in Hot Blooded.
Carlson keeps her plot quick-moving and heavy on dialogue. Thankfully, the dialogue flowed naturally and didn’t hold up the plot. While there were a few info-dumps throughout the book, they were minor and easy to overlook.
There is plenty of action in Hot Blooded. Jessica is pissed, and she’s a wolf and thus instinct-driven. For those who are looking for romance, you won’t see her mate until the last bit of the book, which will probably drive you nuts. But if you were more interested in the fantasy worldbuilding and in Jessica’s character development, you’ll be pleased with Hot Blooded. Carlson proves that Jessica can stand on her own two feet, and her character development due to that is both believable and interesting.
While Hot Blooded, in my mind, is a huge step up from Full Blooded, there were some issues. While it makes sense that Carlson focuses more on magical battles, I felt they distracted a bit from Jessica’s unique werewolf abilities. Furthermore, the journey to the witch’s hidey-hole was rife with some rather unbelievable and incredibly convenient “scary” monsters. While you can expect a witch to surround herself by traps to keep herself safe, these monsters bothered me because you just know how each battle will turn out almost before it begins.
Hot Blooded ends on a cliffhanger (sorry guys, I don’t like them, either), but in good news, you can pick up Cold Blooded right away. The entire six-book JESSICA MCCLAIN series has been released and is available. If you’re an urban fantasy fan, I suggest you check it out. Each book seems to develop the world, magic, cultures and main characters a bit more and Carlson’s pacing and balance between description and dialogue keeps improving with each installment.