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Taken by the Others - Jess Haines ARC Book will be released January 4, 2011

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Thoughts:

After reading Hunted by the Others, the first book in the H&W investigations series, I had lumped it as stereotypical comfort food for UF fans. Sure Haines had a very unique world where the Others are governed by law and can't just change people willy nilly. There was still something missing for me and with book number two I figured I'd get another 3/5 book. Haines definitely blew me out of the water.

The plot picks up and swings nicely into the world of the Others, taking on a much more satisfying turn. The last book our leading lady is basically pulled up into the events by mere petty chance. This time Shiarra needs to except that she's in this for the long haul, because once you've opened your door to the monsters there's no shutting them out. Especially when one of New York's most revered vampires has taken an interested in you.

My favorite part about this second installment is that events allow the reader to enter the realm of the White Hats. Considering they're Other haters and have taken some pretty nasty actions against others and humans a like, I still found myself time and again cheering for our pin toting bigots. Not everyone wearing the pin of the White Hats want to eradicate the filth at all costs. By the end of the book it brings into light that the White Hats and Others may have some of the same goals.

With this vast improvement of plot and pacing this book moves along beautifully. The reader can truly sink in. While I feel that the side characters from before (mainly the Hunters Belt *ahem*) where forgotten, you don't miss them long. New White Hat characters come up and they are a hoot! Shiarra is faced with her biggest fears, being held against her will and her blood drained. Then her biggest nightmare happens, becoming a mindless slave to her "master." My grip on the book was so intense that I actually left indents because I was so absorbed by the nightmare Shiarra was living.

The love interests did not get enough page time in all the action to develop. Chaz is basically a pouting wolf at the end, being irrationally upset that Shiarra was throwing herself at Royce even though she could not control it. If I was Chaz I would be upset too, but not to a point that there couldn't be some healing. At the end of the book it felt like Haines thought she had given the reader enough development between Royce and Shairra to make the reader switch teams. Personally, at the end of this book, Shiarra needs to run, run away from him. I just can not buy Royce being in love with her, it's too unrealistic for what we are given.

In the end the only thing that truly stopped this from being a 5/5 book was Shiarra's stupidity. I'm not going to tiptoe around it. Shiarra's lack of smarts in the first book was a sore point for me, but I figured that it was the first time she was running for her life so she could make stupid decisions. Shiarra forgot key points about the Hunters Belt, and still didn't know when to hide or take the evil villains threat seriously. It was like flashbacks to the first book. Shiarra's struggle with the dark side of the belt was definitely a saving point for her character development. Still I can't believe a vampire like Royce would want Shiarra. She's not naive, she's stupid.

Bottom Line: Haines has proven with this latest installment that she is an up and coming contender in the sea of books populating the UF genre. Be prepared to find a living nightmare, explore the White Hats, and see the true evil of the the Others. This book is an Adrenalin rush and you'll want to have all day and night to read this one!!

Sexual Content:

Nothing overly graphic. Some kissing, sex talk, and Shiarra has to deal with the sexual desire that a vampires bite can create.

4/5- Great! Really enjoyed it.