Only fifty years left before vampires rule the world.
When Dallas police detective Cami Davis joined the city's vampire unit, she planned to use the job as a stepping-stone to a better position in the department.
But she didn't know then what she knows now: there's a silent war raging between humans and vampires, and the vampires are winning.
So with the help of a disaffected vampire and an ex-cop addict, Cami is going undercover, determined to solve a series of recent murders, discover a way to overthrow the local Sanguinary government, and, in the process, help win the war for the human race.
But can she maintain her own humanity in the process? Or will Cami find herself, along with the rest of the world, pulled under a darkness she cannot oppose?
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"Hey, Bradley." I beckoned the crime-scene tech, who had finally arrived and was snapping on gloves. "Is that a piece of paper under the vic's head?"
He bent down over my shoulder to get a clearer view from my line of sight. "Looks like it's tangled in her hair," he said. He pulled a pair of long tweezers out of his kit and snagged the sliver. "Yep. Looks like it has a word written on it . . ." We both peered at the brownish, spidery writing.
"Sanguinary," I said. "Is that written in blood?"
"Maybe. I'll get the lab to run a basic analysis on it. If it's blood, we'll be able to let you know pretty quick if it's human and if so, what type. DNA will take longer."
"Sounds good." I stared at the woman a little longer. Her dark hair—almost the same color as mine—spilled out around her, matted with dark, coagulating blood. The two bloody marks on her neck shone like black stars on a white background.
I knew that if I lifted her dress, there would be other puncture wounds all over the body, and strange symbols carved across her skin—pentagrams within circles and other ritualistic signs. Exactly like the others. Ten murders in the four weeks since the beginning of September—all centered in downtown Dallas, and many with affluent victims whose families demanded action.
The department had been in a barely suppressed uproar.
I stood up, my knees popping a little. Five years ago, they wouldn't have done that.
And five years before that? Vampires hadn't existed, except in books and B-movies. It took time for the world to believe. We hadn't even realized how to fight back when they'd first shown up.
This victim's ragged, bloody fingernails suggested that she had tried to resist, but obviously failed.
The red dress she wore would have originally matched the color of the relatively scant splashes of blood surrounding her, but those stains had dried to a muddy brown, the same color as the writing on the paper caught in her hair.
Her clothing suggested that she'd been at the opera that evening, though the manager, roused from her bed, swore that the building had been cleared and empty when she left.
One black, high-heel shoe lay several feet away, toppled over onto its side, the heel broken, as if she had stumbled out of it when it failed her as she ran from a pursuer.
I'd heard the word before from vampires I had taken down—whispered as a threat, shouted as a warning: the Sanguinary is coming, the Sanguinary will kill you all.
The Sanguinary is here.
It was why I was about to go undercover among the vampires.
"Ooh," the taller woman said, "your friend doesn't like it when you flirt."
I glared at her. Vampires should not know more about me than I do.
"I'll have to see that she gets over it," a voice drawled from behind me. I whipped my head around in time to see a man standing up from a barstool behind me. I hadn't even noticed he was there
God knows how I could have missed him.
He wore jeans and a dark blue button-down shirt. He had on dark brown cowboy boots, and as he turned away from the bar, he picked up a black felt cowboy hat from the seat next to him, placing it on his head. On anyone else, I might have assumed that the hats and boots were an affectation. On him, they looked perfect. He was utterly beautiful, with bright green eyes, and dark hair that curled down to barely brush the back of his collar.
I am undercover, I reminded myself sternly. Here to do a job.
When Garrett caught my gaze in his, flicking his glance toward the cowboy vamp, it was all I could do to keep from sighing aloud.
Would it have killed my partner to be a little more descriptive when he briefed me?
Of course that was the vampire cowboy I had to get close to tonight.
No making eyes at the informants, Cami.
But damn, he was hot.
"Nice scars," he said, sliding his gaze along my bared shoulder.
"Thanks," I said, almost breathless.
"But I thought you didn't do Un-Claimed strays, Reese," the short woman said, managing to both pout and smile at the same time.
And I am absolutely not attracted to vampires.
I could keep telling myself that.
It hit me, hard, that no matter how I twisted it around in my head, Reese was going to be more than just an informant to me. I didn't know if I could trust him, this cowboy-vampire I had been thrown together with. But something about him sang to me, like a tune just out of hearing, almost recognized—a song of protection and death. And I wanted to dance to it, almost as much as I wanted to escape it.
The department wouldn't force me to stick it out, wouldn't expect me to team up with a vampire for anything more than the most superficial of connections.
I could walk out at any time.
But I wouldn't. He'd help us find and stop whoever was killing these women.
That's why I'll stay in this.
"I'll tell you everything," I said to the vampire snarling at me. "But I'll need your help."
Reese's lip dropped back down, covering the fang.
I was glad—it was easier to contemplate joining forces with him when he wasn't reminding me that he was one of the monsters.
"Talk," he said.
I shook my head. "Not here," I said, speaking quietly. How good his hearing might be was only one of the many things I didn't know about vampires.
He slid up to the bar beside me.
"We can't leave," he said, equally softly. I had to lean close to hear him.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Mendoza all but dared me to Claim you, back there." He didn't look down at me. "If I don't bleed you at least a little before we go, he'll be suspicious."
At his words, the half-healed bite mark Reese had left on my shoulder throbbed once, sending a hot pulse throughout my entire body.
I wanted the response to be revulsion.
Almost everyone who went undercover with the vamps came out addicted to their bite. The ones who could still string two sentences together, like Garrett, stayed on the force.
The others . . .
The press portrayed us as bumbling and stupid—and maybe we were. Sending detectives in against humanity's worst nightmare? We were like little kids trying to hold back the dark with matches, bound to get our fingers burned, and worse, maybe burn the house down around us.
I paused and swallowed.
Sanguinary by Margo Bond Collins is a novel in her new Night Shift Series and I have to say that I really enjoyed reading it.
Cami Davis is a police detective who has joined the vampire unit. It seems a war might break out between vampires and humans, when several humans are turning up dead and a vampire might be the killer. The only way to find the truth about these murders is to go undercover and it is Cami who is thrown to the wolves. Now the only thing she needs is a vampire who can introduce her into the vampire society and have her back.
Reeves is a vampire and an ex-cop, he knows there is something strange going on in the vampire society and he is determined to find out what is going on. So he agrees to be Cami’s vampire contact and her way in with the vampires. But neither of them could have known the huge attraction between them and the rules to be accepted by the other vampires. The price might be too high for Cami.
It’s the first book I’ve read of Margo Bond Collins and when the opportunity was handed to me to read and review this book I couldn’t say no. I love reading novels where vampires are involved and mostly those vampires turn out to be good by the end of the book, but not in this novel. They are evil to the bone, but with one or two exceptions.
I love Reeves and Cami together; from the moment they meet I knew Reeves was different from the other vampires. For some reason he’s still got a heart and really want to help Cami in her journey to find the killer and bright him or her to justice. The ending of the book was a little surprise and I’m really dying to get my hands on the next book, because I really want to know what will happen next with Reeves and Cami.
When did you start writing? What has your writing life been like?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making up stories. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since. But about ten years ago, a friend suggested I join in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org). Until then, I had always written short stories. That year, I finished the first draft of what would eventually become Legally Undead—it will be my third published novel, but it’s the first one I wrote.
I ended up as an English major in college because I was fascinated by the ways stories work. And then I went on to graduate school because I couldn’t figure out what else to do. I ended up with a Ph.D. in literature almost by accident; I just never quit wanting to learn about all the stories in the world!
So now I teach literature and writing in my day job, and the rest of the time, I write, both as a fiction author and as an academic.
Most of my ideas come to me almost in passing, when I see something that catches my attention. In the case of Sanguinary, it was a color. My husband and I have season tickets to the Dallas Opera, and the interior walls of the Winspear Opera House—the ones that separate the lobby from the theater itself—are a gorgeous dark red. As we were walking out one night, I glanced back and saw that the tint of the outer glass walls turned the inner walls to a blood-red. At the same time, I saw a woman in a dark red dress of the same color. And of course that led to thoughts of vampires and murder (doesn't that happen with everyone?! Or is it just sicko writers?)—and the story spun out from there.
How often do you write, and how much?
I write something every day, whether it’s academic writing, fiction, or my blog. I’ve recently started making sure that no matter what else I may be writing, I write something fictional every single day. “How much” varies. I aim for a minimum of 500 words a day—my average word-count for thirty minutes of writing. I generally write more than that, but sometimes I don’t quite reach it. Last night, for example, I managed to write one sentence just before I fell into bed. But I made sure to get that one sentence down so I could continue to claim that I write every single day!
Which authors do you admire and why?
Too many to count! Because I’m a literature professor, I have piles and piles of favorite authors. Right now, though, I’m particularly fond of Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley, Holly Black, Ann Aguirre, and Melanie Karsak. What I love about all of them is their ability to create such realistic worlds, to draw me in and keep me interested in the stories they spin out.
I have an office that I use for all my work: academic writing, fiction writing, editing, and online teaching. My desk is against a window so I can see outside. I’m surrounded by books and papers. I write directly on my laptop, but when I get stuck, I sometimes switch to handwriting; this seems to shift my brain onto a different track and helps me get over writer’s block.
What are you working on at the moment?
Piles of projects! I’m currently working on the next entry in my Hometown Heroes series, a contemporary romance novel. I’m working on the sequels to Fairy, Texas, Waking Up Dead and Legally Undead. And I'm working on the next Night Shift book.
What are your writing goals for the rest of 2014?
Always keep writing! I have three works in progress that I plan to complete. And I also have two others that I want to get to. So I guess that means my goals are to finish several more novels. (I’m suddenly realizing that I might be insane . . . )
Any advice for aspiring writers?
The very best advice I ever got was just this: keep writing new things. Always have a work in progress. Finish writing a piece, do a quick edit, and submit it somewhere for publication. Then move on to the next project. Don’t wait to hear back—that way lies madness! If it’s rejected (and often it will be; that’s the nature of writing for publication), don’t let it get you down. Just send it out again and go back to your work in progress.
Thanks so much for having me today!
Margo Bond Collins is the author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas.
She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them—and sometimes fight them.
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