The first book in the H & W Investigations series, published May 2010.
They are the Others--the vampires, mages, and werewolves once thought to exist only in our imaginations. Now they're stepping out of the shadows, and nothing in our world will ever be the same again. . .
In A Town Like This, Being A P.I. Can Be Murder
Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm--if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires.
As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend--a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing--and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil--whether she likes it or not. . .
Right after 9-11 the supernatural beings came out of hiding, helping the humans to find more victims, safeguarding cities, and claiming their own “human” rights. But they are no longer humans, they are The Others. And for a human to legally deal with them, or get into a relationship, they have to sign a contract, so if the Other looses it, and kills or maims the human, they are not legally responsible.
Shiarra and her best friend Sara are working as private investigators in their own P.I. firm, even though both of their families are against it. Shiarra’s mother wants nothing more than for Shiarra to marry and give her some grand children. Sara’s family wants her to take care of the family business of real estate, instead of dabbling in the P.I. business, which is way to dangerous for a woman.
Desperate for money, Shiarra accepts an assignment by The Circle, a coven of powerful mages. They want her to get close to the most powerful vampire in New York, Alec Royce, and find out where he keeps a magical object. It is against her own rules, never to deal with the Others, as it is just plain dangerous, but the money is to good to turn down. And so, under the guise of looking for a runaway, Shiarra contacts Royce. But unfortunately for her, he already seems to know what she is really there for.
And on their second meeting, he threatens her so much, she is scared to death of him, and blurts out the truth about her assignment. He then bullies her into giving up the job, and sign a Contract with him, and she has to give him the best weapon the mages have given her: a magic belt with silver stakes. Shiarra is terrified, and has no choice but to give in to his demands. She will have till Sunday evening to return with the signed and notarized contract.
Terrified though she is, Shiarra doesn’t plan on giving up her life meekly. With the signed contract he can do as he pleases with her. So with the help of Sara she modifies it, giving her equal rights to Royce. When she manages to kill him instead, everything he owns will be hers. And with the protection and weapons she now has, she has a real chance of killing him first.
But something is not right, Royce is being controlled by some one else, and Shiarra doesn’t really want to kill him. Somehow, she has to safe him as well from the sorcerer who controls the magical object, and through it, all the Others.
So with the help of her best friend Sara, the mage Arnold, and her ex-boyfriend and alpha werewolf Chaz, Shiarra sets of to fight back.
Okay, overall, it is not a bad story. But. And a very big but here: I can’t stop from thinking this book is a blur between two of my beloved series. The Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series.
Anita is also being pursued by a vampire and a werewolf at the start of the series, and she wants nothing to do with both of them. And Rachel is drawn into things she doesn’t want either, including fighting demons and other witches, and circle magic. In one of her books there is also a focus that controls were-animals, and Rachel needs to find it first.
The only original thing in this story, to my thinking, is the Contract. And that is just plain stupid for a human to sign. They can turn you against your will, and even kill you.
And of course the magical objects the mages gave her to fight or repel the vampire with. And a big plus, there doesn’t seem to be the goop after the werewolves shift like in the Anita Blake books.
I did like Shiarra, she was a very frightened person at the start of the book, but the more she stood her ground, the more kick ass she became. Of course the magical belt helped a lot with that too. And I totally agreed with her that she should be afraid of the Others, as they are so much stronger and more powerful than humans.
There is little background on Shiarra or Sara, just that they met in college and became best friends. The pushing of their families, but little else.
So no, unlike the many raving reviews I have read about this series, I am not swept away.
The writing though is fluent, and there is a lot of humor which I liked. Lots of action and fighting too. And just a hint of romance. I like the multitude of paranormal beings. I think I will read the other two books, just to see if they get more original.