A review by Evie Kendal
Out for Blood is the fourth book in Kristen Painter’s House of Comarré paranormal romance series. The series follows the story of Chrysabelle, a comarré who escaped from the home of her vampire master in the first novel. Comarré are a special race of humans bred to produce excess blood in order to serve as a source of food for the vampire nobility. They can be identified by the rich quality of their blood and their distinctive gold tattoos (signum). Comarré are considered a luxury possession for vampires and various “othernatural” creatures, to the point where counterfeits are being produced and traded among the less wealthy vampire citizenry.
While on the run from vampire society and the comarré traditions, Chrysabelle finds the noble outcast Malkolm, a cursed vampire who cannot feed from a live person without killing them. He inadvertently claims Chrysabelle’s “blood rights,” effectively becoming her new master.
But Mal has too many other things to worry about to care much for the formal traditions of his new comarré companion – he has been cast out of civilized vampire society, is avoiding a psychopathic vampire (who is coincidentally his ex-wife, Tatiana), protecting a cursed were-tiger (Doc) who can’t transform into anything bigger than a domestic housecat, living with the ghost of a human victim (Fi) whom he killed after receiving his curse and wrestling with the voices in his head telling him to give in to his inner demons and become a killer.
His attraction to Chrysabelle and their unusual relationship just adds more stress and brings him closer to losing control of the “beast” inside of him.
After the first novel, the mystical covenant that obscured the paranormal world from humans was broken, meaning humans suddenly became aware of the many demons, witches and shape-shifters in their midst. The political changes both within the paranormal world and the human world provide much of the tension in the later books of the series, particularly when the daughter of the human Mayor is murdered by an othernatural attacker.
Meanwhile, Tatiana is trying to take over the vampire council and is searching for the legendary “ring of sorrows” that would give her the necessary power to defeat her competition. Chrysabelle was given charge of the ring earlier in the series and in the third book actually melted it down and used the sacred gold to replace the signum that was stripped out of her skin after she was cast out of comarré society. It was believed any mystical power would be destroyed in the process, however, when Chrysabelle miraculously survives a fatal injury, there is reason to believe this may not have been the case.
By the beginning of Out for Blood, Doc has shaken his curse but managed to accumulate a new problem in the form of a witch possession. Fi has avoided drifting off into the ether but is still technically dead. The love triangle between Chrysabelle, Malkolm and the human hunter, Creek, has mostly been resolved in favour of Mal. A vampire-human hybrid has been born and kidnapped for its potential power. Tatiana has made various deals with the devil (literally). Chrysabelle has learnt she has a brother hiding somewhere in the world. Relations between humans and othernaturals are tense.
While Chrysabelle just wants to start a new life free from the oppressive rules of the comarré, her feelings for Mal compel her to save him from two major threats in Out for Blood. The first is Tatiana, who has sworn to destroy Mal’s life if Chrysabelle doesn’t rescue the kidnapped vampire-human child.
The second is the Mayor, who, in response to the attack against her daughter, has imposed strict regulations on the othernaturals, intending to make an example of Mal. It soon becomes clear in the novel that backing the beast into a corner is not a wise decision though. With the voices in his head getting louder, Mal is a threat to everyone around him.
Chrysabelle is as stubborn and strong as ever but frustrates her friends by refusing to admit that the power of the ring is changing her somehow. Her enhanced comarré abilities, coupled with the fact Mal mixed his blood with hers to help her heal, make her an even more powerful warrior.
Determined to save Mal and find her brother, Chrysabelle faces off with all her former enemies, showing why she never belonged as a meek and subservient blood slave for the vampire nobility.
Set in the near-future, the House of Comarré series has a rich fantasy world full of interesting creatures with their own mythology, history and culture. Out for Blood provides enough back-story for a reader to pick up the series at this point, although a lot of the romantic storyline would be lost. As with the earlier books in the series, Out for Blood has beautiful cover art, easy to follow narrative and a number of compelling side plots. The fifth and final book of the series, Last Blood, was released in mid-2013. The series is recommended for any paranormal romance fan, suitable for adults and young adults.
Format/size: paperback, 480 pages