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I love to explore genre fiction, and while I usually go for books with a romantic thread running through it, I just love great character and world building. And since I can hardly stand to let go of my favorite characters, I like series.

Raphael (Vampires in America Series #1)

Raphael - D.B. Reynolds Second readthrough: August 27 to August 30, 2012First readthrough: September 28 to October 01, 2011Review (originally posted at Book Lovers Inc):You know, it’s always the rating range between 3 and 4 that trip me up. The reading experience I had reading Raphael–first installment in the PNR series Vampires in America–was hot and cool (never cold ^_^) for me. I kept vacillating between between a 3 and 3.5 for the early parts of the book, and between a 3.5 and 4 during the later scenes. In the end, I’ve got to admit that this is a solid start to a paranormal series–one that has a slightly atypical characteristic to it (more on that later).So…to explain some of my senseless rambling about ratings for this book. I first give props to the rendering of the heroine, Cynthia Leighton (or Cyn). She’s a capable, intelligent, reasonable person with just enough imperfection to render her realistic and identifiable. I appreciated her clear-eyed perspective on the situations she encountered. It was very hard to fault this woman’s logic, even in the face of particularly difficult situations. I really like that in a character, especially one that’s dropped into the middle of many a complicated, morally ambiguous situation.The hero, Raphael, is one mysterious mofo; fortunately, this seems to play to his advantage, creating an allure or sorts. What seems at first to look like a “typical” ruthless, powerful vampire master from any number of PNRs grows into a fairely nuanced character.Together, Cyn and Raphael were rather intriguing. The tension between the two was very slow to build, but this felt somewhat suited to their natures. They didn’t need to fall all over each other for it to be clear that there was something magnetic, just below the surface, pulling them ever closer. There was no need for grand overtures or even verbalizations of affection; the subtle expressions and actions spoke volumes.On the other hand, I went through this book feeling like I’d read most every aspect elsewhere, in one version or another. It started out like so many paranormal romances, and it didn’t grip me until well into the tale. Fortunately, the sum of all this story’s parts are rather enjoyable. And it eventually became clear that this book–and series–is a slow burner, with potential to really get going later.…which leads me to that “atypical characteristic” that I’d mentioned earlier. Though this book has almost all of the hallmarks of a standard paranormal romance, Raphael and Cyn’s adventure doesn’t end with this book. That’s right: the sequel continues their story. Now, I’m not usually one for suspended wrap-ups in romances, I must say that the ending of this book was appropriate. As I mentioned before, I read through this book often feeling like something wasn’t finished…like the story only scratched the surface of its possibilities. As I reached the end, I realized why. The hero’s and heroine’s complexities make an additional installment a reasonable move. That can be found in the book Jabril, available now.Bottom Line: All in all, this is a fun series opener. Raphael take some time to create that all-important emotional “hook.” For me, that was partly because the individual elements of this book are admittedly not earth-shattering or brand new. The sum of this story’s parts, however, are solid. I’m not going to lie–I cannot wait to crack open book two to see if it builds on the strengths of Raphael and develops further uniqueness. And I’d *definitely* recommend this book if you’re a fan of vampire stories and strong, capable PNR heroines.