One Foot in the Grave

Jeaniene Frost
May 2008, Vampire Romance
Avon, $6.99, 374 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061245097
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Hot

One Foot in the Grave is the second book in the Night Huntress series, featuring a half-vampire named Cat. While at first I thought this was just another average vampire novel, by the end I was intrigued and look forward to reading the next book. I could even look past the fact that the hero has one of the worst names for a protagonist Iíve ever read.

For the past four years, Cat has been working for a covert branch of Homeland Security that hunts and kills murderous vampires and ghouls. Her boss, Don, had searched for years for someone strong enough to take on the vampire threat, so when he found Cat and learned what she was, he blackmailed her into becoming his troop leader. She now leads a large team of highly-trained agents and for the most part is happy with her life. But part of Donís deal was that she leave her old life behind, which included saying goodbye to the love of her life, a vampire named Bones (he was born with the name Crispin Ė why, oh why couldnít he just use that one?).

Cat has never stopped loving Bones, though she tries not to think of him very much Ė something she fails at miserably. Heís intricately tied to her past, since he taught her everything she knows. While walking down the aisle of her best friendís wedding, Cat sets eyes on him for the first time in four years. Sheís terrified that Bones hates her for abandoning him, but after they take on a couple of vampires together (just like old times), he tells her that heís been searching for her since she left and that he still wants her. He also deals with a couple of the obstacles that ďforcedĒ her to leave last time. So, she warily starts up a relationship with him again.

Unfortunately, Cat now has a boss and team to answer to and very quickly sheís found out. Itís not exactly company policy to allow the top vampire killer to date one. This isnít the only issue the couple has to deal with. Someone is trying to kill Cat Ė not exactly a novel concept, but this time someone has hired professional hitmen, including Bones (though he not-so-politely declined), and theyíre getting pretty close to collecting their fee. In addition, an eccentric vampire who collects rare artifacts has decided that Cat, as the only known half-breed, is unique enough to add to his collection.

I wasnít overly impressed with the beginning of the book. Catís personality kind of bothered me. Iím definitely growing tired of all the kick-butt, all-that heroines who do everything right and who all the men lust after. I didnít like the superior way Cat reacted to situations, and scenes that could have revealed a softer side of her character were skipped (for example, her first date with a man since she left Bones). Before Bones showed up, I felt that the book was fairly average.

Then the dynamic changed considerably. Bones made things interesting and stopped the one-woman show. The couple grew on me and it became clear that they truly cared for each other. Sexual tension and a particularly creative love scene (just imagine a liberal use of fangs) added some heat. There were also enough twists to liven things up and the fight scenes were entertaining.

I'm fairly certain that the story would have been richer had I read the earlier book, and some aspects of vampire culture/ethics were fuzzy as a result. Like all the new vampire series, this one has its own take on the vampire world. Theyíre like humans in that some are evil and others are not. Their hearts must be shredded by a silver implement, but they are not affected by sunlight. Their blood has healing and enhancing powers and their fangs produce a hallucinogenic. And all the vampires I was introduced to looked on their vampiric status as a gift.

Had One Foot in the Grave been solely about Cat, I think it would have remained average, but the partnership of Bones and Cat is worth sticking around for. Iíll definitely grab the first book to fill in the holes and, while I might not be jumping up and down while waiting for the next book, Iíll be happy to read it and see what happens next.

-- Andi Davis

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