Infected: Bloodlines

Title: Infected: Bloodlines
Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy
Length: 217 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
Hankies at the ready for this well written mystery with a tragically sad conclusion.

** This review contains spoilers **

THE BLURB

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. One case with strong emotions attached takes up most of his time: finding the murderer of a missing little rich girl. It’s a family with secrets so toxic they’d rather no one investigate, and there’s no shortage of suspects. But despite the dangers and obstructions involved, Roan won’t stop… until he loses something infinitely precious as well.

Infected Series

THE REVIEW

I’ve loved the world building and the characters in Andrea Speed’s Infected series, so much so that even though I knew this was going to be a sad book without any hope of a HEA, I still got my box of tissues ready and sat down to read.

The book follows on from Infected: Prey. Roan and Paris have just recently been married in Canada and since then Paris’ health has been deteriorating at a fast rate, as each time the virus forces him to change into a tiger, he grows closer to death. Ironically, as Roan notes on several occasions, the circumstances of the previous book has caused Roan to find peace with his inner lion, leading to an increase in Roan’s health and vitality. When Roan is approached by a friend to discover the whereabouts of a missing troubled girl, Roan is torn between his job as a PI and spending as much time with Paris before the inevitable happens.

Infected: Bloodlines is really divided into two areas. The first is the mystery plot surrounding the missing girl. This was a tightly written but fairly insubstantial story and Roan solves the mystery reasonably easily. Having said that, this part of the book allowed us to see how far Roan has come in controlling the lion beneath his skin. It also provided some interesting themes around power, corruption and the lengths people will go to in order to retain that. Alongside the mystery is the ever present continuation of the theme of both the virus and of being gay. Roan encounters a few characters with differing views on their own sexuality, and of being infected and I felt this offered up a well rounded set of views on some of the major themes of the book.

The second area, and perhaps the main focus of this story, is Roan and Paris’ relationship in the face of Paris’ declining health. Those of you who were hoping for a miracle cure or a last minute reprieve for Paris are going to be disappointed. You will cry. I did – so much so that I could barely read the last 10 pages through my tears. However, before that, the main aspect of this part of the story is the comparison between how Roan and Paris are facing up to the future. Paris has made peace with his death and faces it with dignity, more worried about how it will affect Roan than for his own fears. Roan spends much of the book trying to ignore it and push the thoughts of Paris’ death away. As a result, his feelings are internalised, only showing when he knows he is alone or displaying themselves in anger. It was heartbreaking to read, especially as we spend most of the book in Roan’s head, experiencing his absolute love for Paris and his fears and frustrations that he cannot defeat death for him. As a piece of writing exploring the effect of oncoming grief and loss of a partner, this was superbly written and extremely moving. The story ends at what I am hoping is the bleakest point for Roan. I know there are more books in the series and I’m hoping that after this point things will get better.

I did have a few niggles about the story. Firstly, there was something odd going on with the narrative style in places, especially when the narrative moved away from Roan. I think this was because there was an over-reliance on the passive voice in these sections which jarred a little and pulled me out of the story. Secondly, although I didn’t guess the bad guy, the mystery was a little weak and relied quite heavily on supposition and accidental discovery.

These are only small niggles in a story which hooked me from page one and I couldn’t put down until the end. There were other things I liked too, such as the way that Paris was preparing for his death behind Roan’s back, or that the author feeds us in several ideas about secondary characters which will probably be picked up later in the series – or at least I hope they are – which made the plotting in terms of the overall character arc for Roan and the other characters in this series subtle and interesting. I also enjoyed being back in this complex Urban Fantasy world and all the intricacies of living in a world where those with the cat virus are treated with a mixture of fear, disgust and awe.

I know that many of you will be put off by the lack of HEA. I knew before I even started the book that it would not end well, and in a way that was easier for me. It’s certainly made me look forward to reading the next book in the Infected series which I hope will be out soon.

34 comments

  • I can deal with a sad ending in a book if there is hope for redemption later in the series (Josh Lanyon’s “The Hell You Say” or Marguerite Labbe’s “My Heart is Within You” are good examples). But the permanent death of one of the main lovers is a turn off for me. 🙁

    Reply
    • I know what you mean Diane. As a romance lover I hate it too. But the way it is written is so wonderful that I forgave the Andrea.

      What didn’t work was reading Dark Horse after this one.

      Reply
      • Ingrid: No, not a good choice of book to read straight after this one! I especially don’t recommend that you go to Kate Sherwood’s website and read the freebie prequels to The Dark Horse :).

        I read two comedies after I finished this to try and cheer myself up a little.

        Reply
    • Well, I – obviously! – don’t know what happens after this second book. But I’m guessing, since Dreamspinner is publishing the third book, that it continues to be a “romance” – in other words, though one of the original main lovers dies, I’m thinking another romantic relationship must arise. So my guess would be that there will be hope for redemption of a sort.

      I’m not sure I’d read this second book if I didn’t believe that, if I didn’t know that there’s so much more ahead for the surviving character…

      Reply
      • Now that’s a good point Justacat, however even if new romantic relationship emerges I am not sure I will ever trust this writer not to kill the new guy, if that makes sense. Thus I am more likely than not to ignore the series at least till all the books are published and I will do a VERY thorough spoilers check lolol.

        Reply
        • Hmmm… I think there is the chance for love again with Roan, and I can see at least one character in the series who is a potential lover for him.

          Surely the author wouldn’t be so cruel as to have Roan lose a third lover to premature death? Isn’t it enough that he lost his first lover to suicide and now Paris? The poor man should not be made to suffer so much again!

          Reply
        • Sirius, I see your point – but I don’t think the author just “killed off” this guy. It was a very integral and organic part of his storyline, from the very beginning in fact – I mean, you could see it coming almost from the start of the first book, even if you (you being me, or any reader!) wanted to try to find a way to believe it wouldn’t happen. And the author has said that writing this was the hardest thing she’s ever done, before or since (she actually wrote this a number of years ago, well before it was published).

          So I truly don’t believe that just because Roan’s lover died in this book, that necessarily means the author is the untrustworthy sort who’s apt to kill his lovers off and make him miserable with no reason or warning (though there are no guarantees!). But I suppose we won’t know for certain for a long time – it’s likely to be quite a while before “all” the books are out, since she is currently writing book 13, with no end in sight, and book 4 is the one about to be published!

          Which doesn’t of course mean you need to read these if you’re not inclined – but…wow, it’s some remarkable stuff, and that’s coming from someone who desperately, desperately wants happy endings… I don’t think I’d continue if I didn’t believe there was hope for some happiness for Roan going forward; I suppose it’s true that if the author proves me totally wrong on that, I’ll probably give up on the books eventually, no matter how good they are otherwise.

          Reply
          • Justacat, I think I should clarify. When I said I do not think I can trust this writer not to kill any other lovers of the main character, I did not mean that I would not trust this writer to write a good book, you know?

            Based on several reviews of these books that I have read now, I am pretty sure that author as you said accomodated Paris’ death in the storyline and it was very organic, consistent, etc, etc. I mentioned it before, but I will say it again, I will never say that book is a bad book just because it does not have happy ending. Moreover, outside of the romance genre I will never expect the happy ending. It is marketed as urban fantasy/ romance yes? Well, I think it should be marketed as only urban fantasy and then I think readers will have appropriate expectations before starting this book. Am I making sence? When I said I will not trust this writer to not kill off another lover of Roan (?) if such emerges, I meant exactly that and only that. And now I see that Roan’s first lover committed suicide??? I now feel even more justified in my thought that we are not going to see romantic relationship that it is not going to end tragically in these books. I am however more than happy to be proven wrong and thus I will look for spoilers and see, I think. It is just what I expect in romance genre, you know? When I want tragic ending with no hope at all, I will go and pick up some Dostoevskiy’s stories, really. (I am not being sarcastic here, I may have said it before, but russian literature is my heritage and I am well read in it and love it, so I am not just dropping Dostoevsky’s name here, I truly love his writing) I want to see characters and human interactions that resemble reality in romance stories, however where the ending is concerned, I do not care for final tragic blow, I really don’t. I want to see happy ending there, or if not happy, at least I want them both alive. Rarely I will let myself experience love stories that end with death, but that’s only if I know the book is truly outstanding by many people’s recommendations. I am not willing to have such experience just for the “good” book, it has to be a masterpiece and based on the reviews, it seems to be very good series, but masterpiece it ain’t. I have read “At Swim two boys” after all. I am glad I have had this experience, but it is not the one I am willing to repeat any time soon. It truly hunted my mind for days, but the writing was of such caliber, that I felt I cannot deprive myself of it.

            Reply
          • Can’t figure out a way to reply to your actual comment Sirius, so I’m just replying to mine again –

            Oh, I totally and completely understand you, even agree to a large extent. Maybe I’m just deluding myself in thinking that she (the author) isn’t ultimately writing a “final tragic blow” book (even if it isn’t a typical romance) and will give Roan happiness in the future after he’s endured this tragedy (his first lover’s fate is part of his difficult past; it isn’t shown in the books, just makes him who he is when he finds love with Paris, so I don’t really count that in terms of deciding what the author is likely to do – lots of m/m romance authors have some sort of tragic type event in their characters’ pasts, after all). Hoping/believing that there will be a later love story that doesn’t end in death, a romance of sorts, again even if it isn’t a typical romance book.

            That belief is what keeps me reading – this doesn’t feel like an At Swim type book, and certainly not Dostoevsky, even if it’s never going to be a fantasy escapist HEA romance. But I could be wrong, and then I will, admittedly, be unhappy. And if I’d never read any of them, and was reading these reviews right now, I’d probably be right where you are, waiting to find out more before deciding whether to begin! Having begun them, I’m a bit hooked and not willing to stop yet.

            Reply
          • Justacat, you should see reply button in the top right corner of the post you are replying to, however the funny thing is that I do not see one in your reply so now I am replying to your original post again LOL. Of course I cannot argue with you as to whether book feels tragic type or not, although death of one of the guys feels tragic enough for me, as I said I have not read it, but all that I meant was that author showed the willingness to go all the way with this plot turn and I totally mean it when I say it good for her. Although I have to admit I am quite surprised by her (IMO) over dramatic comment on this tread that she was prepared to be hated over this book. I would assume that she meant that she is prepared to loose some fans over this plot turn and if so, good for her for sticking to her guns. I do not like when authors do change something important in the books to satisfy their fans if it compromises their vision for the book. However my respect does not mean that *I* will compromise how I feel over such plot turns you know?

            The fact that Roan’s first lover is not in the book does not change how I am thinking about it, because to me it still establishes the pattern. Two lovers, two deaths, again granted I have not read the book and maybe you are seeing the textual clues that Roan will eventually find happiness, but I will believe it when I see it. Sure many m/m authors have their guys experience tragic events in their past, NOT many m/m authors in fact I would say few m/m authors have their guys to end up alone and broken and have their second lover die on them.

            I mean, really, I know there are romance fans that are okay with death of protagonist, I am not. And if I want to pick up romance or romantic fantasy, just tell me open and clear what it is and what it is not. And really if it is marked urban fantasy, all my issues are nonexistent. When I read Dresden files series, I do not necessarily expect Harry Dresden to survive the series, but I eagerly devoured all twelve volumes and can’t wait for another twelve or however many Jim Dresden has in mind, because to me Jim Butcher does not play with genre conventions in that sense. Harry Dresden may attempt to have romantic relationships, but that’s not those series are, it is urban fantasy.

            Oh well, as I said I will definitely read spoilers when next book arrives.

            Reply
          • Sorry Justacat, replying to your original comment again, something else I want to add. I think it is WONDERFUL that Dreamspinner lunched their Bittersweet dreams line. I wish I knew whether it necessarily means that one of the guys would be dead in the end in those books or it just means that they will not stay together at the end, because I can handle them not staying together. However as long as I am warned that this line implies that deaths are possible at the end, I am VERY happy to stay away from those titles. I wonder why these books were not published in this line, I am guessing because it was started recently. I am very curious how well this line will do.

            Reply
            • Sirius
              Feliz has reviewed a couple of the books in the Bittersweet Line and another one is coming up this week – The Night Porter by Sue Brown. I think most of these stories are paranormals (maybe all of them are, given the theme) so the heroes die and come back or maybe they are vampires. 🙂 You should check out her reviews. She certainly seems to like these books.

              Reply
    • Diane I had no problem with The Hell You say myself – but there were no deaths there, just a separation of the lovers, which to be honest since it was third book in the series I never believed to be permanent anyway.

      Reply
      • Wave, I actually have The night Porter, bought it before I read a review on Amazon alerting to the ending. I am glad to find out that not in every book of these series one of the guys dies. I am actually reading it now.

        I saw Feliz’ review of Pearl Love book, suspected that they are going to die, but could not figure it out from the review, which is of course fine, since there is no obligation to put such major spoilers in the review or any spoilers, but I definitely need to know before I buy. Thanks again for reminding me, now I will at least research those titles more instead just running away from them.

        Reply
      • Sirius
        If it’s wartime you expect one of the protagonists to die and I have read many books like this. Bobby Michaels wrote a very poignant story about losing one love and finding love again a year or more later that I have never forgotten. While I had no idea when I picked up the book that that would happen I absolutely loved the story.

        Feliz’s review of The Night Porter will be live on Thursday so watch for it.

        Reply
        • Well, it depends on what I am reading, you know? Of course it is much more realistic to expect protagonists to die during war time and I have read books like that too, but in romance I still expect them to survive and I think that while it is significantly less realistic, it still happened and as long as there was small possibility of such thing happening, I will accept it as realistic enough if that makes sense. For example and please forgive me for bringing up personal example, I am Jewish person whose country of origins is one of the former Soviet Union countries and Holocaust is something that affected my family very significantly, half of my grandmother’s siblings and her parents were killed by Natzis, but my grandmother and her other siblings survived, they for various reasons had a chance to escape to run from natzis across the country, etc and thank goodness live long and happy lives after that horrible war ended. Now, percentage wise as I am sure most people know, much more jews were killed during that war than survived and of course I will read the stories about people who fall victims to the Natzi regime, I will never turn my eyes away from those stories. But when I read romance I want to read stories like my grandmother’s story, if that makes sense. She suffered hardship, she had to leave all she held dear and most of her family behind, but she survived and she actually met my grandfather while she was in evacuation,so she experienced her love story too.

          Forgive me for rambling Wave! What was the name of Bobby Michael story if I may ask? I will definitely check it out, I totally do not mind reading about finding love again and going through grief, as long as I know that finding love again is permanent at the end. And I will watch for Feliz’ review, absolutely. Thank you!

          Reply
    • Hi Diane
      I don’t mind an ending where the heroes are separated within a series because you know that there’s the chance for reconciliation. In fact one of my favourite plot lines is that of antagonistic ex-lovers being reunited. No chance of that with this book though, so it’s possibly not the right book for you.

      Reply
  • Jen
    I don’t mind an occasional book where a main character dies but in a series you become attached to the characters and it’s too difficult.

    I don’t mind books that don’t have a HEA or a HFN because that’s RL but I still remember a book by Kiernan Kelly that still rankles 3 years later, because the author wrote an unnecessary epilogue just to kill off one of the protagonists. Horrible!! So I don’t think I will be reading this series unless something Really Good happens. 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh Goodness, no not for me, thank you for the review! It is funny I saw the recommendation for these series on the blog of someone whom I really respect some time ago. I am a type of the reader though who likes to know spoilers especially such important spoilers, so after first book, I decided to wait till the second one will be out and whether miracle will happen and then to decide whether to buy or not. I absolutely think that writer should stick to her vision and do not follow the wishes of the romance fans (any fans really) like me, who want happy ending, because I think it will compromise her artistic integrity. However, I am not starting these series unless I find out that something really good will happen as you said Wave lol. Too bad really, because every review I read said how good the writing was.

      I vastly prefer my happy ending in romances or any romantic subgenres of m/m, really, however quite honestly I will take any ending except the death of the protagonist. I am sure these series will have enough fans without me though 🙂

      Reply
    • GAWD! I remember that book Wave. It was totally unnecessary! Such a waste of disk
      space 🙁

      This series is really good though because of the excellent world building

      Reply
    • And I was attached to Paris, Wave :(. Yet another brave move on the part of the author to make him so darned desirable and all round nice guy.

      Maybe it will be the case that readers can pick up the series from book 3, in which case all the sad stuff has already happened.

      Reply
  • Hello! Thanks for the review. Believe me, I was prepared to be hated upon the release of this book. (Hated to do it. But that’s the way the story went …)

    As for the third book, I have no solid date on it yet, but the contract had May as a tentative date. I will keep everyone apprised of the exact date as soon as I know what it is. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Andrea
      I don’t hate you! In many ways I admire you for your bravery. It would have been so much easier to find a miracle cure for Paris and keep all us readers happy, yet you stuck to your story arc, despite knowing that it would be an unpopular choice.

      I shall look forward to the new release in May :).

      Reply
  • I haven’t read this one yet (read the first and loved it – I have to say, if I’d known beforehand about the ending of this one I’d probably not have begun it, and I’d really have missed out on something special – despite my anxiety about what’s coming, and my general avoidance of this sort of thing and preference for escapism, this world and these characters are alive in my head and I’m so glad I did read the first one…)

    *Anyway* – that was a long rambling parenthetical! – I haven’t read this yet, but I wanted to let you know I saw on the author’s blog that the third book, which I believe will contain the fourth and fifth “Books” of the Infected series (there are 13 right now, and the 13th is in progress; first published book contained Books 1 & 2, Infected and Prey; this one contains Book 3, Bloodlines; next will contain 4 & 5, Life After Death and Hysteria), will be published by Dreamspinner in May…

    I think it remains to be seen whether more of them after that will be published – depends on whether they are picked up by the publisher.

    Reply
    • Hi Justacat

      I know what you mean about having not started the series. I read book 1 not knowing how it would end, and I read this book knowing exactly how it would end and yet still wanted to read it. I usually avoid any hint of a non HEA or HFN.

      Thanks for the info about the next book. I will definitely be reading it and I hope the publisher does continue the series because the UF world that the author has created is just excellent.

      Reply
      • Okay, now for the life of me I can’t find where I saw that May date – I’ve found the announcements for the book, but not the date. I feel fairly positive I saw it somewhere, but it’s possible I’m not remembering right, so don’t hold me to it! I would love it to be sooner…even when I finished the first book, I was unhappy to have to wait just a few weeks for the second; now I’m wondering whether to wait a little longer before starting this one.

        I probably won’t, though. 🙂

        Reply
        • The May date was announced on the author’s website under her news category. I went over to her website and checked it out for further information.

          Reply
    • In a way I wish I’d done that, Chris. I certainly wish I could move straight into book 3 now, rather than wait until it’s published next year.

      Reply
  • Even though I have book 1, I just don’t think I can do it. I have no encouragement to start it when I know this is coming, no matter how great the story is. Maybe I’ll wait and see if #3 is happier, if not, definitely off the list.

    Reply
    • It’s a tough one, Tam. On one hand this was a very well written story and I would even say deeply romantic, and yet there is no HEA. I’m glad I read it, even if I did cry buckets, because I want to continue the series.

      Reply
  • You knew when starting to read that it would not end well. Just keep a box tissues ready and go.
    If I am really mean I can say that the sickness was much more interesting to read that the mystery.

    Reply
    • I don’t think you are being mean at all, Ingrid :). You are absolutely right in that the parts of the story which dealt with Roan and Paris were certainly more compelling than the mystery.

      Reply

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