There’s only one substance on earth that can create a new vampire--the blood of a Chalice, a rare individual with magic in her veins. Atlanta’s human-vampire Civility Laws demand that if a Chalice is found, she must be destroyed. Vampire Teijon Reyes allowed the mortal girl Dessa Collier to live despite the threat she posed to society. If he ever finds her again, he will kill her, personal desires be damned.
Heiress to a family tradition of ward-working, house painter Dessa Collier has spent the past twelve years pretending vampires don't exist. When a friend-enemy walks back into Dessa’s life after a decade-long absence, everything Dessa has been hiding from comes crashing down on top of her.
Thrown together on a mission to protect a city under seige, Dessa and Teijon can no longer hide from the powerful attraction that binds them...or the monsters out to destroy them.Paint for Blood is an ambitious story with a unique storyline full of a variety of scary creatures amidst heart pounding life or death circumstances. While I applaud its distinctively unique storyline and myths, at times there's almost too much going on that leads to confusion. Growing up Dessa knew she was different and had to guard against vampires and other creatures of darkness but didn't really know why. I know how she feels since I never really felt I had a deep grasp on the role of The Chalice nor the differences between the creatures haunting her every step. There were times I admired Dessa for her strength and other times I cursed her stupidity, even when she knew she was making the wrong choice she still did it. She felt she had no true value beyond what the myths and her training taught her which led to her harming herself to feel. Her connection to the honorable and exotic Teijon was her first experience with unconditional love. Teijon's connection to her was believable in its intensity and evolution from their life-altering first encounter in her youth when he saved her instead of killing her per his orders. Their sexual encounters are steamy and erotic and include a light smattering of menage and m/m.
The taste of Dessa's blood has haunted Teijon for years and kept his relationship with Lee from going to a deeper level. Ultimately a choice must be made which leads to a surprising twist and interesting implications for the next book. Even though Teijon paid a penalty for not killing her the first time they met, he knows he can never harm her once she's in his life again and repeatedly puts his life on the line to keep her safe. He's an exotic hero who never forces Dessa into anything. He never keeps secrets from her and because of her weakness and irrationality at times, I felt he deserved a more worthy heroine.
The villains and their schemes are hard to figure out due to the large cast of characters and the feeling that a lot of action happened before this story even started. I'm intrigued by the vampire laws and hierarchy and the struggle to maintain the safety of all amidst the fears surrounding the abilities of The Chalice. There were numerous action-packed sequences that sped along at a heart pounding rate towards a gut wrenching cliffhanger. All of these elements led to a story that was satisfying on an emotional and sexual level (even though I was left with tears in my eyes at the conclusion) but left me a bit lost and confused about the mythological part of this world. I'm hoping that the sequel will clear things up and ultimately lead to a HEA. Emily Ryan-Davis has a nicely flowing writing style, and while not everything worked perfectly in this story, I certainly admire the creativity and the bright promise of her work and am excited for the next release in this series.
My rating for this is a C.
*I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.