True Blood (2006)
Author: Patricia Waddell
Genre: Romance/Science Fiction/Mystery
Danna MacFadyen is a diplomatic officer for the League of Planets whose psychic powers allow her to see and feel the past experiences of others through a process called "imprinting". Cullon Gavriel is an Enforcer for the Korsican Empire, a fearsome trueblooded warrior trained to protect the empire at all costs. The two meet while serving as representatives of their respective governments on a tribunal assigned to investigate the cause of a freighter explosion that claimed the lives of 46 people, one of them a trueblooded Korsican traveling under a false identity. Although both are instantly attracted to the other, they are faced with more pressing issues. It is revealed that someone is killing Korsican truebloods and possibly trying to spark an intergalactic war between The League and The Empire. As Danna and Cullon struggle to uncover the identities of the murderers, they find that their passion for each other is matched only by the danger that stands between them and the truth. What follows is a story of intrigue, romance, and adventure. SPOILER: The truebloods are being murdered by a group of renegade Korsicans who believe that truebloods should not hold a special place in their society. Cullon leads a raid against their base of operations and his group manages to kill or capture all of the group's members, including Khaled, the son of a General on the High Council of Korsica. In the end, Danna and Cullon are able to stay together when their respective governments agree to form a special agency, run by the couple, to counteract threats posed by the Conglomerate.
Geographical Setting: Various Fictional Planets
Time Period: Future (Distant Future - No Dates Given)
Series: The first book of "The True Series".
The settings in the novel are well-developed, and careful attention is given to providing details elsewhere. The author does a good job of building a sci-fi universe in a short amount of space including various worlds, races, and a history that are enjoyable to imagine. The characters are also fully fleshed out. True Blood features many secondary characters that add depth to the story, but most of the attention is focused on Danna and Cullon. The main characters are archetypal romance novel leads, but readers are left wanting to read more about them because of the little details Waddell includes about their idiocyncries and past experiences. The story moves at a compelling pace. There aren't really any dead spots. Gaps in the action of the story are filled with internal thoughts and dialogue that are important to the development of the relationship between Danna and Cullon, so there's always something going on to hold the reader's attention. The story is easy to read and hard to put down. The novel is a bit difficult to classify in terms of theme. It has aspects of adventure and sci-fi stories, but is definitely a romance novel. Waddell writes better sci-fi than the reviewer had expected, at least in terms of creating a good backdrop. The science fiction aspects are mostly window dressing for the romance. None of the issues traditionally explored in sci-fi novels are examined during the course of the novel. That being said, Waddell is a talented writer, and would probably make a good sci-fi writer as well. The story is written from a 3rd person perspective. True Blood has the structure that one would expect in a romance. The development of the story relies heavily on internal feelings and thoughts of the main characters, but equal page space is devoted to the setting and action. The novel strikes a good balance between being dialogue, character, and action driven. Although there are dark elements to the story, the overall tone is light and optimistic thanks to the focus on the romance and a happy ending.
Read-alikes: Readers who can't get enough of Patricia Waddell's universe, characters, and writing style should try the follow-up novel to True Blood, True Deception. This book follows the adventures of Aedon Rawn, Danna and Cullon's first agency recruit, as he attempts to infiltrate a Conglomerate colony. During the course of his mission, Aedon meets Kala Char-ari and sparks fly. Reader reviews have praised this book for having a similar tone and well-developed characters. Another romance that features a richly described setting, science fiction and mystery elements, strong characterization, and a compelling pace is Deidre Knight's Parallel Heat. In this book, human soldier Thea Haven and Refarian guardian/warrior Marco McKinley have a chance meeting and fall passionately in love even though circumstances would normally make them enemies. They must work together to change time and avert a civil war. The Veiled Web by Catherine Asaro would appeal to fans of Waddell's book because of its focus on developing an immersive setting and a compelling pace. The story focuses on Lucia del Mar, who meets brilliant scientist Rashid al-Jazari while exploring the net. The pair are kidnapped by fundamentalists intent of using Rashid's expertise to spread chaos, escape, and take refuge in Rashid's home country where Lucia must adapt to life in an Islamic culture. Over the course of several adventures, the pair fall in love and live happily ever after. Two novels by Patti O'Shea would probably also appeal to fans of True Blood. Reader reviews praise Eternal Nights for having a well-developed cast of secondary characters and a compelling pace that makes the book hard to put down. Romantic Times has suggested that, like True Blood the book does a good job of blending action and romance while maintaining a light tone. In Eternal Nights Captain Kendall Thomas and Captain Wyatt Montgomery must stop a group of smugglers from looting artifacts from an ancient pyramid on a planet called Jarved Nine while avoiding danger and exploring their feelings for one another. Another book by O'Shea that would appeal to fans of True Blood, Ravyn's Flight, was nominated for a futuristic romance award by Romantic Times in 2002. The story follows the adventures of Ravyn Verdier, the sole survivor of her Colonization Assessment Team, and her rescuerer, Special Forces Commander Damon Brody, as they try to escape their assailants on an uncolonized world. Passions flare between them as they try to find a way out of their prediciment. Reader reviews praised the book's compelling pace and well-developed main characters.
Red Flags: "Hot" Romance Rating, Some Violence