Grave Illusions by Lina Gardiner

Grave IllusionsTitle:  Grave Illusions
Series:  Jess Vandermine, Vampire Hunter #1
Author:  Lina Gardiner
Genre:  Paranormal
Published:  February 1, 2007
Publisher:  Imajinn Books
My Rating:  4 stars
Source:  Owned, Kindle Edition
Cover Description:

New York City is in the grasp of a deadly, unseen enemy. At least unseen by normal society. Lieutenant Jess Vandermire, New York City police officer, is uniquely specialized to recognize and fight this threat. It’s her job to forge a black ops team, an assortment of men and women who wouldn’t be considered for the job under normal circumstances.

But these aren’t normal circumstances. The team has to be tough and, if need be, expendable. Jess understands what she’s fighting and what’s at stake. For her, it’s all about retribution until ex-cop John Brittain is recruited to her team. Suddenly, her priorities aren’t quite so easily definable. John Brittain has a chip on his shoulder and is as tough as they come. But is he ready for the whole truth? That combating “super” vampires whose primal need for blood and the addictive drug “Sunshine” is only the beginning of their problems?

And when Jess tells him the truth about herself, will he stay and fight or will he turn against her and not only threaten their lives but destroy the fragile relationship developing between them?

Read on for my thoughts on Grave Illusions.  No true spoilers, promise.

Grave Illusions is the First in the Series, Jess Vndermine, Vampire Hunter.  This award winning series first started in 2007, but since I recently came upon a soon to be released e-reader ARC of the latest novel in this series I felt it right and wise to go back to the very beginning.  There are hundreds of amazing series out there on the shelves unread by me, so I’m sure this will not be my last discovery of a series that is well worth the time and money to invest in getting caught up to date.

Jess is a vampire – and a hunter of the most vile, evil vampires to ever prey on humans.  Jess was turned in 1952, then the first woman on the New York City Police force.  Today she heads a Special Black Ops team that investigates crimes by the vampires that exist in and around New York City.  It takes a special type of person to end up on Jess’ team.  Someone who isn’t afraid to kill upon instinct and with complete accuracy and intent.  Someone who will not hesitate to kill, for a second of hesitation could mean the difference between life and death on her team.

John Brittain, or Britt as he is most often called, was a good cop.  Now he’s a cop killer.  He had discovered that his partner was taking bribes and during the physical fight he landed a blow that killed his partner.  Cleared of charges, Britt now drives a cab and lives in isolation with self-loathing as his only companion.

He is approached by his former captain and one beautiful woman intent on recruiting him to a Special Ops team.  Except they are extremely closed-mouthed about what this team is investigating or fighting.  The answer of, “If we tell you now we’d have to kill you.” was not intended as a joke, but as a blood chilling warning.  They wanted him on the team badly, but he had to make the call based on gut instinct and without any knowledge of what he’d be agreeing to.

Britt wasn’t interested.  Yet, the offer gnawed at him with the light of a promise just beyond reach.  When it soon became apparent that he was in fact being targeted by those he would be fighting, his reluctance became less as Jess was forced to tell him little bits about the team for his own safety.

Grave Illusions quickly draws you into the story.  The consistent, well done world building makes stepping into this New York City effortless and believable.  Obviously, Jess is not entirely like the vampires she hunts.  There is a reason she is seen in daylight and why she wants these creatures destroyed.   The sexual tension between Jess and Britt builds slowly and steadily over the course of the story.  They aren’t lovers yet, but the emotional ties are growing tighter every day and night.

This is the first of four (so far) stories in the series.  While they do not end on a true cliffhanger, there is a hint of the next story to come at the very ending.  That only gives the reader the teasing hint to be sure to follow up on Jess and Britt’s next adventures in this Special Ops team.

I enjoyed Grave Illusions very much and would not hesitate to recommend it to paranormal, mystery or romance readers.

Available in paperback or for the Kindle (and yes those are two different cover graphics one the original the other is the current cover)