Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! Today, we continue with the first book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, Halfway to the Grave.
Here’s how it works. Each week, I’ll post a summary (spoiler alert!) on two chapters, and we’ll chat about them. Try to minimize spoilers beyond what’s happened in the book we’ve read so far. You can read along, read ahead, or just stop by and read the summaries. After the Book Club has been up a few days, I’ll move it to archives so you can still come back and read. There’s a “Book Club” tab above. So, let’s get started!
HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, CHAPTERS 13-14
When we last left Cat and Bones, they’d just had a night of steamy sex and she woke with a bad case of Uh-Oh and fled the Bones-Cave for home. Her grandparents are on the porch drinking iced tea when she pulls up. One look at her and they do a big old grandparent apoplectic thing, calling her mom out to join them. Cat runs inside to a mirror, thinking she must have fang marks on her neck—nope, just lots and lots of hickeys. Her mom flees to town in search of condoms.
A car pulls up outside, and Cat looks out her upstairs window and sees Bones exiting a cab. OMG. She flies (well actually tumbles) down the stairs but not in time to see Bones enthralling her grandparents into thinking he’s a nice girl who’s taking Cat to a Bible camp for a couple of days. Really, he’s gotten a lead on the club mentioned in the “classmate’s” computer and is on his way to Charlotte. He knew Cat would insist on going in search of Hennessey.
We pick up with them a few hours later. Cat is at the Club Flame, dressed in her sluttiest best (Bones packed for her, of course), and she’s just met Charlie the vampire. She leaves with him, knowing Bones is following at a discreet distance. On the way, Charlie uses some green-eyed vampire mojo on her and gets nasty, but she shuts up and pretends to be enthralled as he takes her to an apartment building and propels her up to the second floor. He yells out to someone named Dean that he “has another one.” Dean wanders out naked and Cat has to fight her embarrassment.
Charlie and Dean are fighting over who gets her first when Bones rides to the rescue. Cat stakes naked Dean while Bones puts the screws to Charlie. Bones can tell there’s someone in the other room, and she goes to find a naked girl drenched in blood and enthralled—but still breathing. It’s clear that Charlie knows who Bones is—which makes Cat wonder about his reputation and how he got it—and Bones plays along as Charlie tries to recruit him. So convincingly that Cat starts to doubt him again. But he gets valuable intel on Hennessey’s operation. Bones traps Charlie inside his metal bedframe, douses him with gasoline, and burns him—and the whole building—down.
Bones finds a jerk from the bar who’d hit on Cat dead inside Charlie’s trunk, and leaves him. His plan is to use himself as bait to lure Hennessey. They take the girl to the cabin of a woman named Tara with whom Bones is very friendly. Cat is jealous at first, but while Bones is upstairs talking to the girl, Emily, she learns that Bones saved Tara from an abusive husband, and now occasionally brings girls in trouble to stay with her. Tara makes it clear that Cat is the first woman-friend Bones has ever brought with him.
On their way back, Bones and Cat get some things straight. First, he was hurt when he overheard Cat telling Tara she could have Bones if she wanted him, and that Cat still doesn’t trust him. Cat says the night before had been a mistake and she understands if he wants them to go their separate ways after Hennessey is caught. Bones then shocks the heck out of her by telling her he loves her. She protests, but he realizes her objections aren’t about her feelings for him, but what her mother would think. She gives in pretty quickly, making him promise not to bite her and to be monogamous.
Later, after a lively night in their hotel room, they order room service, and he says he found out that there was a $100K bounty on the late Charlie, so Cat’s cut is $20K. She won’t take it now that she’s sleeping with him—says it will make her feel like she’s doing him for the money. If she doesn’t take it, he says, he’ll feel like she’s paying him for sex...so he better earn his payment.
Finally, they board the plane for home, and we learn that Bones is kind of scared of flying. He wants to see her home, but she puts him off until the next weekend, when she’ll be moving into her own apartment—thus no Mom-time.
I liked that Jeaniene Frost balanced Bones’ tough-guy brutality with Charlie against his kind treatment of the girl and the backstory with Tara.
I kind of flinched at the protestation of love from Bones—seems like it happened awfully abruptly. Which made me think, okay, what standards am I applying to this book? Is it urban fantasy, or is it paranormal romance? If it’s UF, the “I loved you the moment I saw you” is hard to buy. If it’s pararom, well, sure. We expect that. Or it could just be that I’m feeling unloving this week because I went off on Stephen King this week for a love angle in the read I’m doing of the Dark Tower series over at tor.com. Maybe I’m just slow—I’m on the third book of my own series and my heroine’s just now figuring how she feels about certain other characters. So did this protestation of love from Bones seem to happen quickly, or am I just an unromantic cretin?