A MelanieM Review Redux: Infected: Bloodlines (Infected #2) by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Infected Bloodlines 2 by Andrea SpeedIn a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. One case with strong emotions attached takes up most of his time: finding the murderer of a missing little rich girl. It’s a family with secrets so toxic they’d rather no one investigate, and there’s no shortage of suspects. But despite the dangers and obstructions involved, Roan won’t stop… until he loses something infinitely precious as well.

Note: This book remains one of my favorites of the series and is still the most heartbreaking.  Even mentions of Paris in subsequent stories will bring memories of this book flooding back as  well as the tears it engendered.  I had no idea that instead of fading away, the idea of Roan and Paris actually got stronger for me in the series.  Did the author have any idea this would happen?  I think not.  But Paris will forever eclipse Dylan as Roan’s mate in my eyes and the Holiday stories just cemented that.  But this book, oh this book, dug them so deep into my heart nothing could ever pull them out.  Here is that old review.

I knew this book would be heartbreaking from the very beginning. After falling in love with Roan and Paris in the first Infected book, I had been debating how quickly I wanted to delve into this one. I decided on the cowardly choice and read a much lighter book instead. But the characters kept calling me and truthfully, I just had to know what happened next.

As expected, the sniffles started from the very first page. Andrea Speed has created such a mesmerizing universe here populated with beings both memorable and haunting. Roan McKitchen is hired to find a missing girl, a case that turns into a murder with a suspect at each new development. Paris Lehane (Roan’s partner/husband) is involved in a fight of his own as the infection and the Tiger virus take its toll. The warm and loving relationship of these two men (built in this and the first book) is countered by the realities of Paris’ condition and Roan’s attempts to deal with it. Paris and Roan aren’t perfect, and their relationship has taken work. But the pain coming off both men is genuine as are the motions they go through. Denial, anger, depression and bargaining, Roan is dealing with them all as the case of the murdered girl gets murkier. All the people around Roan and Paris are beautifully fleshed out characters, remarkable in the impressions they leave you with.

By the time I finished the book, my box of tissues was as empty as I felt. So, can you love a book when you hate whats coming? In my case, yes. Andrea Speed made me care so much about these people that I was drained at the end but would not have missed the journey. With 2 more published books to this series yet.

So I think I will go read something frivolous or one of my comfort reads before I head into the 3rd book. But the pain and heartache of this story is worth it. And it will stay with me for some time to come.

Cover art is more to my liking as I like to think its Roan trying to run away from what he knows is coming. Powerful.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 224 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by DSP Publications (first published December 16th 2010)
Original TitleInfected: Bloodlines
ISBN 1632163284 (ISBN13: 9781632163288)
CharactersRoan McKichan

Series:

A MelanieM Review: Epitaph (Infected #8) by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 3 out of 5

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective solving crimes involving other infecteds.

Infected Epitaph coverThe last thing anyone needs is for a new tiger strain of the virus to start showing up among the Infecteds.  Even worse, with one sniff Roan realizes that his connection to this tiger virus is personal and painful.  Roan has also been asked by Dee to investigate the death of one of Dee’s former lovers.

 Then the FBI wants him to investigate a new apocalypse cult of infecteds pushing for a violent revolution against normals. All around Roan, events are spiraling out of control. Just when his singular abilities are needed most, Roan develops new symptoms that might signify dire consequences if he doesn’t stop shifting at will. Roan finds himself at a crossroads and must make a difficult decision about his future.

It has taken me weeks to decide how to approach this review, hoping time would allow some sort of objectivity to layer over the disappointment and sadness this story produced.  But that didn’t happen.  My feelings towards Epitaph remain the same…I feel letdown and regretful that I didn’t stop at Undertow, a story where the promise of Roan McKitchen and his universe remain vibrant, gripping and full of anticipation for the future.

First of all, let me say that this has nothing to do with the fact that Epitaph is indeed that, an epitaph for Roan McKitchen, the Infecteds, and the complex, enthralling universe that Andrea Speed created back in 2010. Actually it began prior as it started as a serialized story on Andrea Speed’s website (stories now removed).  No matter.  From the beginning, Speed created in Roan McKitchen not only the tragic mythic hero but one for our ages, complete with t-shirts showcasing obscure bands and a dialog that snapped and sizzled.  Roan’s conversations were always full of current references to books, songs, poems even events, places and people that demonstrated Roan’s high intelligence and sarcastic regard for society as a whole.   Roan would have been amazing as a human but as an Infected child?  He became heroic, memorable and magnetic in his hold over the others he meets and befriends as well as the readers who discovered him.

I am one of those enthralled readers.  We readers have followed Roan through his soulmate relationship with Paris and the resulting heartbreak that ended with Paris’ death, a death that still gets to me. We have watched the transformation of Roan as the virus morphed and Roan figured out how to deal with that changing status no matter the pain, pills, and blood it cost him.  Throughout seven books Andrea Speed kept developing and deepening her universe and that stunning creation of a cat virus.  The wilder the transformations and spread of the virus throughout the population the more caught up in Roan’s world and Roan himself we became.  Through discoveries that Roan’s tumors were packets of the virus, the changes in musculature that in once instance formed a protective plate that saved him,  even to the fact that the Lion could be awake and thinking while Roan was not, all powerful images and concepts.

All that would be enough to satisfy any series but Speed’s vision grew larger, as did her science and virus.  There was the memorable and heartbreaking Infected Pieta scene that had me in tears.  What a brilliant image and the emotions it provoked in the onlookers watching Roan and the dying lion were the same ones that pulled on the readers hearts as well.  There were chilling moments such as the one where Roan/Lion destroyed an Infected underground fight ring, aided by Infecteds in cat form (different species) who followed Roan and his orders as if he were their King. It was stunning and visionary, full of immense promise and speculation for future stories.  And the one element that I always kept tucked away hoping to see resolved…the fact that Roan’s lion was as much in love with Paris as Roan was, an emotion that did not carry over to Dylan.  Paris was that unique creation that matched Roan perfectly and Dylan’s character never was able to rise  to the vibrancy and complexity that was Paris or Roan.

I could go on and on, about scene after scene that Andrea Speed filled with imaginative plot threads, unique elements and additional fantastic characters I took to heart much as the main ones.  This series is filled with strong, magnetic people like the various Seattle Falcons hockey players (Grey, Tank,  or Greg , not to mention such friends as Holden (my favorite along with Grey), Doctor Rosenberg, Fiona and Dee.  Andrea Speed’s Infected series is chock full of people you could build series around and then some.  And this large cast got better, more layered as the books and various storylines continued.  Until the end.  That sad, sorry, dispirited end.

Towards the end it was almost as if Speed was deconstructing her characters, pulling them apart like insects under a magnifying glass. Poor Grey, he always had a certain enigmatic allure to him.  Not so much by the end of the book.  It’s been reported that there is to be a Paris prequel and a Holden story.  I don’t think I can bear it.  Not after this.

I almost gave this story a much lower rating.  Why?  Well, not because it didn’t end as I hoped it would.  No, that prerogative rests solely with the author. It’s their right to do whatever they want with their characters and story. No, its because this story was lacking the life, complexity and power of all the previous installments.  I could have taken any ending had this story lived up to the quality of the previous stories. Reading this book was the equivalent of watching the blood drain from a dying animal, an animal you loved.  Every scene was a sad, tired struggle, for the characters and this reader to get through.   Even the major conflagration scenes here, ones that should have been bursting with explosive drama and fireworks were more of a dustup then all out battle.  After that it was just one last diminished little journey to the finish line. All promise gone, all the splendid anticipation squandered, and worst of all, what an injustice for a heroic creation like Roan.   How lifeless, limp and lame.

I should have stopped at Undertow.  And I will do my best not to think any further about Epitaph.  All the other stories remain well remembered and loved.  For them and for Roan, I gave this story a 3 star rating.  There were still flashes of inspiration and dialog that made me smile, however, infrequent and sparing they were.

If you are new to this series, start with Infected Prey and Bloodlines and continue on to Undertow.  After that its up to you.

Cover artist Anne Cain’s covers have been outstanding throughout the series, including this one.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications       Amazon          Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 330 pages
Published November 18th 2014 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781627988629
edition languageEnglish
seriesInfected #8
charactersRoan McKichan

Books in the Infected series in the order they were written and should be read:

A MelanieM Review: Infected: The Lost Weekend (Infected #7.5) by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Infected-the Lost Weekend coverAn Infected Short Story

Roan is hired by Scott to look for a hockey player friend of his. After a long night of celebratory drinking, Scott can’t quite remember what happened to his friend, and he isn’t answering his cell. Roan discovers Scott’s friend was much more troubled than he ever realized, and that some mysteries should remain unsolved.

Scott, one of Roan’s professional hockey player friends, is missing his teammate after a drunken night on the town.  When the friend doesn’t show up for practice, a search is launched with Roan doing the investigating.  What follows is a revelation into a player they thought they knew but turns out  no one had any idea of what was bubbling under the surface.

Andrea Speed takes our favorite Infected characters off on a weekend investigation for one of Roan’s friends.  It’s not a complicated case and it is solved almost as quickly as it begins but what matters here is the characters, their relationships and the journey the investigation takes them all on.

Infected: The Lost Weekend by Andrea Speed is a short side story to a long, densely layered, and evolving series.  There is really no way to impart the pertinent series details in such a short story and Speed doesn’t try as it would not begin to do justice to this astonishing character and series.  You must approach this story with the full knowledge of the ongoing plot and relationships.  If you lack that background, this probably won’t make as much a impact on the reader.  But a side story takes it for granted that you realize that the backstory will be missing and goes on from that standpoint.  And from that point of view, Infected: The Lost Weekend delivers the sort of character interaction and dialog the readers have come to expect from this author and series.

I am a huge fan of Andrea Speed and Infected.  I enjoy her stories as much for the peculiar and obscure cultural references as I do Infected’s evolving plot and characters.  Here I get both.  Involved in this storyline are Scott, a bisexual professional hockey player and friend of Roan’s.  Holden Fox,  ex high priced prostitute, Scott’s lover who plays an increasing part of Roan’s operations as a part-time investigator.  Really, I just love Holden.  His is a voice almost as strong as Roan’s and that’s a remarkable achievement.  For Roan is one of the strangest, strongest, and angst driven characters I have had the pleasure of meeting in the pages of a novel.  The Lost Weekend combines the three of them on a short journey of discovery.

The investigation into the events of a drunken weekend and a missing hockey player are given a fairly realistic treatment.  It is a short examination of a person’s ability to hide their true personality and issues behind a facade and the ease with which others assume that who they see is the real persona.  It makes you think about how many assumptions you might make in a day about people you think you know but really don’t know anything about.  Scott knows just enough about the missing player to know that he’s in trouble but nothing more.  It’s up to Roan to solve the puzzle to the man’s personality and find the solution to the case.

The resolution  won’t surprise anyone but again its the journey here not the end of the trail that matters.  Did I wish for more?  Certainly, but I always feel like that when it comes to Roan and his group of highly individual and quirky friends.  For those of us who crave a new Roan story, this provides temporary relief until the next installment appears.  Or perhaps you can head over to Andrea Speed’s website for a new free “online only “story as well.   Devil’s Night, part one is up now and if you are like me, you can never have enough Roan or the Infected universe.

If you are an Infected fan (and doesn’t that sound wrong) and a lover of all things Roan, then pick up Infected: The Lost Weekend and get your Roan fix in while we are waiting for the next story to drop.  If you are new to this character and series, start at the beginning of Roan’s tale and work your way forward.  It’s really the only way to see the character development, understand all the relationships that emerge and marvel at a story line that gets more convoluted with each new installment.  Love the series, love, love the characters.  Infected is one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words must reads of any year.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  The Infected covers are dramatic, and darkly beautiful.  They also do a terrific job of branding this series.  I can spot an Infected novel just by looking at the cover instead of title and author.  Great job.

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner Press    All Romance eBooks (ARe)    Amazon   Infected: The Lost Weekend

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
30 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
Series:  Infected

Here are the Infected series novels in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and overall plot:

Prey (Infected, #1)
Bloodlines (Infected, #2)
Life After Death (Infected, #3)
Freefall (Infected, #4)
Shift (Infected, #5)
Lesser Evils (Infected, #6)
Undertow (Infected, #7)
Infected: The Lost Weekend

Epitaph (Infected, #8) not yet released
Trick or Treat

Infected, Special Edition (Books 1-4)