I’m always on the lookout for the next Kate Daniels, and the Jane Yellowrock series comes close.
Like Kate, she lost parents to violence, and like Kate, she has unique skill sets, both supernatural and physical. Both are young women supposedly comfortable being on their own, working as security consultants and swords-for-hire. Yet, so much of Jane’s energy is caught up in her negative feels that it is quite distressing.
It begins with Jane and Rick, her boyfriend of a month, packing up her things in her old apartment when they both get a call to return to New Orleans ASAP. Rick drops her off with a quick kiss and disappears, presumably on an undercover police assignment. Jane is tasked with warning a prior associate of Leo’s, the head vampire, that the associate is ‘persona non grata’ in his territory. It turns into a battle with werewolves with an appearance by a mysterious supernatural. With a grudge against Leo, the werewolves are pursuing it both legally and illegally. At the same time, the African shapeshifters are in town and wanting to come to an arrangement with the city’s vamps. Jane’s duties involve security for the event, but as usual, also involve dressing up in expensive tailored clothes provided by Leo. Rick goes missing, and Jane tortures herself thinking that it is because she didn’t marry Rick before having lots of sex.
This book will likely appeal to fans of UF traditional vamps that have complicated politics, with grudges spanning decades, blood servants and secret lairs. Though Jane has spent years as a legal ‘hunter,’ killing vampires who have violated vampire/human laws, she’s been working for Leo, New Orleans’ head vampire, for some time and unsurprisingly, finds herself more caught than she would like. I generally found myself reading for the puzzle of the situation, and tried to ignore Jane’s repetitive self-doubt regarding Rick, her general attractiveness (as rated against all other vamps and weres) and her strange passiveness when another hot man puts serious moves on her.
The book comes shockingly close to failing the Bechdel test. Jane’s proud to be as tough as one of the boys–a bodyguard even mentions this with complimentary intentions, how like a man she is, except the chest part–and fit in with the bodyguard and mercenary boys. Had it not been for her ‘niece’ calling (who warned her about a male), an insane lady-vamp, and her best friend’s sister rooming in (who is interested in the man Jane is ‘not interested’ in), we’d have no positive female-female conversation at all, only females in opposition (one of them known only as a ‘were-bitch,’ a diminutive that inelegantly conceals her identity). I never think that it’s a good sign, third book in, that we can’t come up with any more lady-types to be a regular part of the team.
While I really wanted to like the series, I ended up stopping around book five, as vamp politics ended up playing the main role in most of the books I read. It was particularly tiring as Jane supposedly hates ‘bloodsuckers’ and yet continues to work with them (Kate Daniels took one contract from the vamps in all her books). Add the three competing lust interests and it just felt like character stagnation with changing boyfriend dynamics.
Given all that, I do like Jane’s personal mythology surrounding her shapeshifting and her Native heritage. The general world-building is usually well-done, and the humid New Orleans setting comes alive. The plotting is intriguingly complex, although it frequently relies on motivations the reader knows nothing about. One standout feature is that when it comes to writing, Hunter’s is above average for the genre, with only occasional missteps. At the end, I remain firmly on the fence. I’ll be working my way through the next couple to try and discover what went wrong.