*Rating* 4 stars
*Genre* Urban Fantasy
Hellbent is the second novel in the Cheshire Red Reports series by Cherie Priest. Our protagonist is Raylene Pendle who is a thief and a vampire who drinks blood but can’t fly nor can she be exposed to the sunlight. She is often mistaken for a man since international intelligence officials who have been hunted her for years; find it hard to believe that a woman could actually be such an accomplished thief, or as she calls herself--acquisitions specialist.
Raylene currently has two children living with her--8 year old Pepper and 14 year old Domino. Raylene took them in after the events of Bloodshot. Also living with Raylene is Ian Stott a blind vampire for whom Raylene has a friend with benefits relationship with. Ian was experimented on by the government and lost his eye sight permanently. Lastly, there’s ex-Navy SEAL Adrian deJesus who is a drag queen better known as Sister Rose. Adrian continues to hold out hope that he will one day find his vampire sister Isabelle who was last seen in Atlanta.
Raylene lives in Seattle, Washington where she has had to change sceneries and locations after the FBI raided her warehouse where she stored a lifetime of items she either stole or collected over the years. Having used up so much of her own fortune and capital in acquiring her new place, she agrees to work with Horace Bishop who is her pimp/agent if you like.
Bishop is the director of acquisitions for a NYC auction house and has discovered some rare and highly valuable Baculum or penis bones while at an auction house. Bishop offers Raylene a substantial finder’s fee for the cigar box filled with the bones. The only problem is that Raylene is in a race against a schizophrenic genius named Elizabeth Creed who used to work for NASA and who just happens to be a powerful sorcerer when in possession of the bones. Creed has her own plans for the bones that includes changing past events.
If chasing bones around the country weren’t enough to keep our OCD with several neuroses occupied. Raylene also has to find a way to keep Ian away from his former House in San Francisco where he was once a major player before he was captured, blinded permanently, and experimented upon by the government and Jeffrey Sykes. With the death of his “father” he is now in line to become the new Judge of the house of Renner. Something he has no desire becoming which is why he has stayed undergound for the past 10 years.
I adore Raylene’s humor, snarkiness, determination, as well as her motherly tendencies towards Ian, Adrian, Domino, and Pepper. Raylene is far from done collecting lost souls, and soon adds Isabelle in an attempt to keep Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta away from Seattle.
I also appreciate that the snarkiness between Raylene and the other characters isn’t overly overdone as in other novels. There is a serious issue that underlies this series and that is the fact that Raylene wants to get even with Jeffrey Sykes for what he did to Ian, Isabelle, and other vampires he captured, and also stand up and help her fellow vampires in their time of need.
I look forward to reading the next book in the series whenever it becomes available, and thank Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me access to this book before it is to be released.