Series: The Belladonna Agency

Dueling Reviews: Turned by Virna DePaul

Posted April 11, 2014 by Jonetta in Book Review | | 6 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dueling Reviews: Turned by Virna DePaulTurned by Virna DePaul
Series: The Belladonna Agency #1
Published by Bantam on April 1, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audio | B&N | iBooks | Goodreads
three-stars

Welcome to a mesmerizing world where vampires hide among humans. This centuries-old species has its own rules, code of conduct, and taboos. Only the FBI knows that vampires exist—and although the Bureau agrees to keep their secret, it also plots to give humans the upper hand. Turning mortals into vampires is forbidden. But there are creatures who refuse to play by the rules.

Ever since he was turned, FBI special agent Ty Duncan has had one mission: bring rogue vampires to justice. As a recruiter for Belladonna, a shadow agency formed to keep vampires in check, Ty must tap Ana Martin, a troubled ex–gang member and one of the few mortals who can infiltrate places that his kind and the law cannot. From their first encounter, Ty fights a hunger to make Ana his own. When Ty claims to have information about Ana’s missing sister, Ana has no choice but to trust this captivating stranger who awakens her deepest desires. But as she and Ty climb the heights of pleasure and passion, an enemy is conspiring to destroy them both.

Can Ana help Ty find his humanity in a love that could heal them both, or will their passion lead them into a darkness impossible to escape?

Jennifer and Jonetta have teamed up on this review! You’ll get two perspectives for one view so let’s bring it….

 

World building

Strengths
Jonetta: There were some unique qualities. For one, there are many distinct differences between “born” vampires versus “turned,” which sets up a platform for natural conflicts. Some have mind-reading abilities (not consistent) and there are ways to block it. Knowledge of vampire existence is limited to covert arms of government agencies. Vampires have the same hair and eye colors, which can be altered but it’s their natural state.

TBN: After reading so many vampire books it’s always refreshing to see new twists to the creatures. The “born” versus “turned” is not new (to me) but the ways they can be killed is. I won’t go into it so that I don’t spoil it for anyone. But both ways are ones I’ve not read so gold star to DePaul for putting a fresh twist to her vamps.

Weaknesses
Jonetta: There were too many variables that finally just made things seem convoluted. And, they were released throughout the story, some unknown to those that should have been wise to. It just weakened the plot.

TBN: I agree that some of the variables were kind of rough in places but I think it’s due to “first book in series sydrome”. I have hopes that things will iron themselves out more in the next book, Awakened.

Romance

Strengths
Jonetta: It was instant lust between Ana and Ty and they did a dance for most of the book. Rather than have them connect sexually too early in the story, the erotic aspects were managed through some pretty realistic dream sequences. It satisfied my need to see them together but not too soon. Their chemistry was very steamy.

TBN: I quite enjoyed those dream sequences. They were a nice way to give us some sexy times early in the story which only stoked Ana’s want for Ty. And I think Ana needed it. Ty had watched her for a while. Yeah stalker but it was his job so he had time for his lust to grow for her but Ana needed a little catching up time on her side of it.

Weaknesses
Jonetta: Their dance got a little tiresome after awhile, especially as Ana’s behavior bordered on schizophrenia. One minute she’s ready to commit, and in the same paragraph she would change her mind inexplicably. I got whiplash from all the times she vacillated about Ty. He was always consistent so this just got irritating.

TBN: About 80% of romances have the same dance. It may not be a tango but a waltz. That I’m used to. And one if not both characters have those moments where they think or say “but we can’t be together” for some reason or another. But, yeah, the fact that Ana had those mixed thoughts within the time frame of 20 seconds or as Jonetta pointed out within the same paragraph was a bit much.

Action

Strengths
Jonetta: The action scenes were pretty tense and exciting. Many of them occurred without having the benefit of the extent of vampire powers and abilities so I wasn’t certain of the outcome or possibilities for each engagement. That just made them more exciting.

TBN: I liked that we got to see the good and bad side of Ty in the action scenes. Yeah he’s sexy but he’s not afraid to rip someone’s throat out with his bare hands.

Weaknesses
Jonetta: There weren’t enough of them. Too much time was spent on Ana rehashing her past instead of moving the story. At least Ty’s musings uncovered new issues. Ana’s, not so much. It interfered with the pace of the story.

TBN: I could have used a little more action as well.

Character Development

Strengths
Jonetta: Ty and Ana were very well developed. I have a good sense of who he is, what drives him and his moral center. Ana’s background was more complicated but I was always clear as to who she was and what was important to her. The secondary characters have a basic framework, enough to be intrigued about them to want to learn more.

TBN: Yes I also felt like both Ana and Ty’s characters were well developed. We also get just enough of the other characters that I want to get to know them more in future books.

Weaknesses
Jonetta: The secondary characters have a framework but I wish a little more rail had been laid for personal conflicts of each that may emerge later in the series.

TBN: I like that the main characters got most of the page time. It’s their story so they should get all our attention. DePaul fed just enough info on the secondary characters to make them interesting to me.

One thing I will say is that one character is sick because of a blood transfusion but they say the blood was clean and the doctors doesn’t know what’s wrong with her. Then a few chapters later she has AIDS. I don’t know if that got edited in the final copy but it bugged me while reading the ARC. That’s a big thing for someone to have and the doctors would know what was wrong with her. It’s 2014 not 1970s or 1980s.

Overall Story

Jonetta: I think the debut for the series is pretty solid, even if the world building seemed a little all over the place. The main characters were strongly developed and the story was interesting. Cutting back on the repetitive character musings would improve the pacing, allowing for a lot more action and keeping things much more tense and suspenseful.

TBN: DePaul has intrigued me with her spin on vampires and I will be returning to see what happens next with the summer release of Awakened. 

 

 

 

About Virna DePaul

Virna DePaul is a USAToday and New York Times bestselling author of steamy, suspenseful fiction. Whether its vampires, a Para-Ops team, hot cops or swoon-worthy identical twin brothers, her stories center around complex individuals willing to overcome incredible odds for love. Bedding The Wrong Brother is a #1 Bestselling Contemporary Romance, and is followed by Bedding The Bad Boy. Her PNR series with Random House launches on April 1, 2014 with Turned. She loves to hear from readers at www.virnadepaul.com.