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The Becoming    by Jeanne C. Stein order for
by Jeanne C. Stein
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The problem with so many vampire novels is that nothing happens. Happily, this is not the case with Jeanne C. Stein's The Becoming, a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat vampire thriller that's sure to delight.

Anna Strong is a mortal bounty hunter but she does not stay that way for long. On a mission to collect a fugitive, she and her partner are attacked. Her partner only suffers broken bones, but not only is Anna beaten and raped - it turns out that her attacker, a rogue vampire, accidentally turned her. Anna must now adjust to her new immortal life, but this of course will not be easy. Soon after she turns, she is attacked by vampire hunters, has her house burned down, and her partner goes missing. In a race against time to find her partner before the vampires drain him totally, her investigation keeps getting hindered by a sexy vampire who wants to steal her away from her boyfriend. Anna has a lot on her plate!

Stein knows how to work in enough detail while keeping the action moving, something vital to a thriller and missing in many vampire novels. The one weak aspect of The Becoming is that it is written in present tense. Normally, this would not be a problem, but in the Foreword, Anna says that this is the story of how she became a vampire, setting it up for a story to be told, not lived. Stein ends the story with Anna having found her partner, but there is still another unsolved mystery who is the mysterious vampire who has been helping Anna? The question will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they await the next installment of this Anna Strong series.

2nd Review by Martina Bexte (Rating:3):

Jeanne C. Stein debuts what's sure to become an action-packed, gripping new series starring a tough and savvy bounty hunter named Anna Strong. It opens with a bang as Anna and her partner corner a bail jumper in his seedy hangout, certain of an easy collar. But their takedown goes horribly wrong when they're both overpowered and attacked by their mark. Anna wakes up in emergency to find she's been badly beaten and raped while her partner suffers assorted broken bones. More shocking revelations ensue when the attending ER doctor informs Anna that the man she'd been hunting is a rogue vampire and his attack has turned her into a vampire as well.

Anna has always been secure in herself and her personal and professional choices, but the reality of her situation takes a toll. When Dr. Avery informs her that he is also a vampire and wants to help Anna through the initial hurdles of her becoming, she warily accepts. As Avery explains the secretive and dangerous world of the Night Watchers, Anna finds herself increasingly drawn to the charming physician despite her commitment to her undercover cop boyfriend. As her association with Avery evolves, so do her new powers, and she learns that there are others in the shadows who want her dead. Repeated attempts on her life go awry and when Anna accepts Avery's personal protection, her mysterious hunters go after her partner David to draw her out. Now she's not only seeking vengeance against the rogue who changed her life, but is also after those who've taken her friend and colleague.

With so many dark paranormal romances hitting the shelves each month, it's a challenge keeping track of them all, and equally challenging to find a few that stand out. The Becoming is such a story; Jeanne Stein has done a great job of creating a very appealing heroine who stands out from all the other tough as nails protagonists shouting for reader attention. While determined to roll with every punch, Anna is also vulnerable and certainly not perfect - a combination that makes for great reader empathy. Secondary characterizations are well done and the enigmatic clues Stein sprinkles throughout - regarding shady, powerful and possibly corrupt men who could well be Anna's allies - intrigue. Stein takes a bit of a chance by presenting her story entirely in first person present tense, but the plot is so streamlined and fascinating, this ends up as a minor quibble. Readers who hunger for crackling good paranormal romance will devour The Becoming in a single sitting and eagerly await Anna Strong's next adventure.

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