Emergency room doctor Salista Calon has an established career in a San Francisco hospital and a fiance who, by anyone's account, is a great catch. Her entire world revolves around logical fact and science, and as such, she doesn't question the way of things. Until her best friend Maria is ripped to bloody shreds by a beast the likes of which Sal had never seen or could have even imagined.
Otherworld warrior Tyr Deadblood is a practitioner of the magical use of blood known as Praxis. He's come to San Francisco on the trail of the murderous beast he must put to death, hopefully sooner than later. While Sal is live blood, Tyr is dead blood, a man who is, by his laws, prohibited from fathering children. He is loathed by those people, yet revered as their protector. He's haunted as well, by memories of a lost love that are always there to remind him why he must never again take a woman as his.
Because his heartsblood is almost gone, Tyr's days are numbered. When he's forced to work with Sal, combining his Praxis with her knowledge of medicine and physics, to find and kill the beast before it gets what it came to this world to possess—Professor Dr. Lionel Hing's magic green gel. This gel works like blood in the implementation of Praxis, transferring intent from one object to another. With it, he could in Tyr's words, “focus enough intent…generate enough force…to shatter the world.” But can Sal accept the blend of magic with her matter-of-fact science to manipulate the magical blend in time to save Tyr's life? Even if it's at the cost of her own.
This was a strange read for me. It's certainly different and unique compared to all the paranormal and urban fantasy fare we are currently being offered. HeartsBlood by Carolyn McCray deals with Praxis or the use of blood to affect the “essence” and intent of an object or a person, with the blood from the heart being the most powerful of all. It tells the story of a workaholic emergency room doctor in a loveless relationship, and Tyr, the deadblood tracker from another world, through whom she learns what true love really is. Unfortunately, I couldn't get emotionally invested in them until the last 150 pages of the book when things get really exciting. But let's not put the cart before the horse.
Of the first 180 pages, Heartsblood could have done without 150 of them. There were times when I had to fight to force myself to continue reading, I was so bored with the superfluous content surrounding Sal's best friend Maria and her less than appealing fiance Richard. Other times, I couldn't read fast enough, the book so captivated me. While Ms. McCray's medical-speak and the metaphysical aspects she combined it with were often a bit much to contemplate, she obviously put a lot of research into it, for which I highly commend her. But with a lot of it going over my head, I'm giving Heartsblood 4 kisses rather the 5 that a reviewer with more logical brain patterns than mine would probably give it.
It's the last 150 pages that won me over. There are so many twists and turns in those 150 pages I was often left with my mouth hanging open. Where Tyr comes from and who the beast turns out to be are only two of the surprises. The ending, a cliffhanger, was definitely a huge surprise. Although dramatic and emotionally impacting, it left me with conflicted feelings. Will there be a happy-ever-after for Sal and Tyr? Ms. CcCray definitely hints at more to come between them as the series progresses. So I'll be picking up book two, Deadblood, to review as soon as it's available.