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Blood Bargain
Maria Lima
Juno Books, 368 pages

Blood Bargain
Maria Lima
Sometime before the Revolution, Maria Lima was born in Matanzas, Cuba, to a family of voracious readers and would-be writers. After her family emigrated to the United States, Maria discovered the magic of books. She started writing her own stories and has been at it ever since. Her writing turned corporate as she used her journalism degree and cranked out marketing copy, feature stories and book reviews. The fiction muse kept calling and in the spring of 2005, was finally fed as Maria's first published short story, "The Butler Didn't Do It" was published in Chesapeake Crimes I and garnered an Agatha Award nomination for Best Short Story. Maria spends most of her days working as a Senior Web Project Manager in the DC area. Her evenings and weekends are spent writing.

Maria Lima Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Matters of the Blood

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

Readers often approach second books in series with a bit of trepidation: they're excited to find out what happens next but wary that the second book might not live up to the excellence of the first. Well, have no fear when picking up Maria Lima's Blood Bargain, she has created an even more riveting novel in her follow-up to Matters of the Blood. Keira Kelly can never go long without finding herself in the midst of a mystery. She and her shapeshifter brother, Tucker, find themselves helping Ignacio, who came over the border to search for his missing brother, Alex, who worked on a ranch that neighbors the Wild Moon ranch. Tucker came to Rio Seco in the first book at the behest of the Kelly clan matriarch, Gigi, to watch over Keira during her paranormal change. Kelly clan members change around mortal middle age and become mind readers, healers or shape shifters.

In addition to helping Ignacio search for Alex, Keira and Tucker offer to help Sheriff Carlton Larson hunt for four Rio Seco teens that have disappeared. They allegedly went three-wheeling, but rumors run rampant that two of the teens want to be together against parental wishes so they may have run off to Austin or San Antonio. But, closer to home for Keira lies the mystery of the fading health of Adam Walker, her vampire lover. For all intents and purposes, Keira has moved to the Wild Moon ranch to live with Adam, which makes his sleeping longer, lack of interest in sex, paler skin and stumbling more apparent. Stumbling might seem minor, but for the graceful, sure-footed vampire, it signals that something's amiss. Keira attributes his fading health to his insistence on drinking wine with blood extracts in it rather than feeding off the herd animals with the others. But something entirely different could be the cause of his growing weakness.

Maria Lima captures the essence of urban fantasy, mystery and romantic elements in Blood Bargain. We see more into the mind and upbringing of Keira, the strong-willed and feisty female protagonist as events in this novel could have more personal impacts. With Keira spending more time at the Wild Moon, she misses her afternoon (well, morning for her) coffee and chats with her best friend, Bea, and promises to make an effort to see more of her. I got my wish in seeing more of Tucker in this novel, and he remains my favorite character. Lima has given him such diversity that from one minute to the next, we see him as teasing older brother, charming information from waitresses and sultry lover. And all of them ring true. Lima has a talent for banter between Keira and Tucker as well as humorous editorial comments (sometimes conversations) in Keira's head. We are also re-acquainted with Adam, Keira's ex-beau and the local sheriff Carlton and Niko, Adam's mysterious and sexy second-in-command. I have to admit I don't feel the same draw to Adam as Keira.

The plot of Blood Bargain zips along at a fast pace, making it very easy to read the book straight through in nearly one sitting. We learn more about more of the people in Keira family including the two aunts who served as her female influences growing up, Jane and Isabel. Her father's clan raised her from the age of seven after her mother's people, a Faerie clan in Wales, rejected her for not having any magic.

Keira and Tucker explore some spooky places in search of answers, and in so doing, discover the cruel natures of humans and non-humans alike. In some ways, this book has a darker feel than Matters of the Blood, but Lima lightens the mood by distributing humor throughout with a heavy hand. Lima allows the suspense to build and has some interesting surprises in store. More mystery than romance, Blood Bargain is a terrific read. I anxiously await the release of Blood Kin this fall to see what happens next.

Copyright © 2009 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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