Hearts at Stake & Blood Feud, The Drake Chronicles Books 1 & 2 by Alyxandra Harvey
These are the first two novels in a new vampire series. I know, I know, how many more do we need? But this one is worth it, and I'll tell you why. To begin with, they are the perfect mix of character-driven and plot-driven narratives. By this I mean you care about the characters and get to hear their stories, but instead of pages and pages written from inside their heads, Alyxandra Harvey has remembered to add the plot, too! Lots of action in both these novels - mostly the fighting kind. Both novels have romance in them, but that aspect is tame enough that the 10-to-12-year-old crowd who shouldn't have read Twilight in the first place, but did, and now want more, well, this is perfectly appropriate for them, too, as well as the older teens it's meant for.
The series centers around the Drake family - mother, father, 7 sons, 1 daughter, and the daughter's best friend, Lucy.
Hearts at Stake, Drake Chronicles #1
Paperback: 9780802720740,Walker & Company, $9.99
This first novel is about Solange (kudos to Alyxandra Harvey for starting off with the girl!). Solange is the only female vampire to be born - the rest have been made, or "turned" - and this means she is destined to become a vampire queen. In the Drake family, when you reach the age of 16, that is when you "change," or officially become a vampire. As the clock counts down to Solange's 16th birthday, the vampire world begins to explode politically: Leander Montemartre, an evil vampire, pits factions against each other in an effort to kidnap Solange to gain political power. Add to this a human best friend who may or may not be falling in love with Solange's vampire brother Nicholas, a member of the anti-vampire league named Kieran Black who Solange may or may not be falling for herself, and the tiny, insignificant fact that Solange may not even survive the "change". This is the deadliest sweet sixteen you'll ever read about!
Blood Feud, The Drake Chronicles #2
Paperback: 9780802720962, Walker & Co., $9.99, Pub. Date: August 2010
The second novel in the Drake Chronicles features Solange's brother, Logan. Without giving too much away, the vampire clans are gathering for the royal coronation of the next vampire queen (you think you know who it is, but it's not!). The Hounds are a vampire clan who practice magic and have a deep connection to wolves and dogs (though they're not werewolves). Isabeau St. Croix has been sent to lead the delegation from the Hounds. Turned by Greyhaven in the early 1800s, Isabeau is still hunting for this evil vampire who bit her and left her locked in a coffin for 200 years. As the Drakes and the Hounds try to work together toward fighting a common enemy - Leander Montmartre - Greyhaven has a plot of his own in the works. There may come a time when Isabeau is forced to choose between revenge and Logan Drake.
If I was a bettin' sort of woman - oh, who am I kidding, I totally am - I'd make a bet that the rest of the Drake Chronicles will simultaneously solve the vampire political problems while pairing off the rest of the Drake clan (by my calculations there are 5 brothers left after Logan). The only downside is we have to wait until January 2011 for Drake Chronicles #3.