Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane Paranormal Investigator #1), Alexis Hall
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Lesbian Romance
Tags: Paranormal – Fae, Vampires, Weres, Murder/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: 277 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
The vampires of England were ruled by four Princes: Cups, Swords, Coins and Wands. Near as I could tell, Cups got people laid, Swords killed people, Coins bought people, and Wands stopped people finding out.
Kate Kane is a PI. Her business partner has died, and she misses him. She drinks too much, smokes too much and she has zero cases at the moment. She also has an ex, Patrick, who happens to be a vampire and somewhat, uh, overprotective. She had a bad break-up with her prior girlfriend, Eve, and she won’t work for the un-dead or supernaturals. Well, she won’t work for them until Ashriel – the gorgeous reformed succubus and staff member of the Prince of Cups summons her for an audience with the prince. Julian Saint-Germaine is a female vampire prince who owns nightclubs in London and has just been alerted to the fact that a man was murdered outside one of them, Velvet. She needs someone to investigate what or who killed him – it’s not good for business to have dead men outside your club. Julian takes a shine to Kate and Julian is nothing if not irreverent, and easily distracted by Kate, who is also irreverent and snarky and tough. Julian may have summoned Kate for the investigation, there may be a dead body outside, but attempts at seduction are mandatory for Julian from the get go –
“There’s a dead body in the alley outside.”
“And it just slipped your mind?”
“No, I just decided to seduce you first.”
“He’s dead, he’s not going anywhere.”
“Yes, but I’m better in bed.”
So Kate is having to fend off Julian, although that doesn’t last too long, Julian is extremely attractive, if only she’d stop wearing damn ruffly shirts. Besides, if it’s a bad idea Kate seems to be up for it –
Ah, to be young and horny. This was probably a bad idea. I could tell because I really wanted to go with it. “You’re so hot,” whispered Tash the Teetotal Lesbian.
“Come back to my place and console me in my dreary immortality.” This was a really, really bad idea. I could tell because I really, really wanted to go with it.
Meanwhile, Kate discovers that the dead man is actually a werewolf Cousin, still part of the pack but not quite as high up the order and can’t fully transform to wolf. But he is a Vane-Tempest and his cousin is none other than the pack Alpha and lingerie model, Tara Vane-Tempest. The deceased’s boyfriend is also a vampire – Kauri, 0r Parma Violet, the in-resident burlesque Drag Queen host for Velvet.
As Kate is trying to track down the murderer, she is more and more involved in the paranormal world and its many inhabitants and cast of characters…and politics. Mind you, Kate has bedded a few of them, vampire-Patrick, who works for The Prince of Swords, Nimue, the Blood-Witch Queen, who currently holds court in a community centre in Tottenham. And there are others she has pissed off, like Thomas Pryce, the Prince of Coins. But Kate is not without some tricks of her own. Her biological mother, the Queen of the Wild Hunt, abandoned her on her human biological father’s doorstep after he had been rescued from being her consort. She can track and hunt like a faery – like her mother’s daughter – and she looses herself in the blood thrall of the chase if she isn’t careful. She also has bouts of great strength.
After an evening of a near sexual interlude with Julian is broken up by a very slimy tentacle monster trying to kill Julian and Kate things hot up. Eventually Kate tracks down who was responsible for summoning the tentacle monster and more than a few people are happy to believe that the same person is responsible for Andrew Vane-Tempest’s murder. But not Kate. It also creates a dilemma about who gets to mete out revenge, or at least justice.
The book is very much about Kate working through the case and having to deal with vampires, fae, mages, demons, unicorns, werewolf funerals – hot women trying to seduce her – Julian and Tara amongst them. Life is tough when you have a sexy vampire prince and a sexy lingerie model/alpha werewolf after you and you aren’t too sure whether they will eat you after mating with you. But Julian and Kate are interesting together – their humour, snarky outlook on life and certain dangerous nature is a good combination for them –
I checked my messages. Julian’s voice poured over me like hot fudge sauce on an ice-cream sundae. “Hello, sweeting, I’m just thinking about you. If you want to know what I’m thinking call me back.”
No, wait, this was crazy. She was an eight-hundred year old vampire. For all I knew, she had ex-girlfriends stacked under her floorboards like Lego bricks. Maybe it was her hobby; “Hi, there’s this murder I want you to investigate, can I buy you pudding, look at my lesbian sexpile, let’s shag, let’s shag some more, now I will kill you.”
Julian made an unimaginable sound, lust, fury, and pure feral hunger. And the next thing I knew, I was flat on my back and pinned breathless on the chaise longue. Julian reared up, fangs beared, a few drops of my blood clinging to her lips.
Here lies Kate Kane. Killed in a foreplay accident. Beloved daughter. Sorely missed.
Believe me, Kate Kane considers her epitaph quite a bit throughout Iron & Velvet –
Here lies Kate Kane. Died of leptospirosis after swimming in a river of poo. Beloved daughter. Sorely missed.
I liked Iron & Velvet. The world building was good. There is quite the cast of characters. I had no trouble remembering them but then I see a lot of names / titles and it is seen by me as a challenge to be accepted. Besides, I read a lot of paranormal and it is par for the course. I found the dialogue perfect for what it is – a contemporary gumshoe/paranormal read. Kate Kane is suitably jaded but has just enough decency to care in her uncaring fashion. She is amusing in her world view. She takes pride in her work, even if she does like a drink or ten. She is witty and snarky and gives as good as she gets and there is something about her that makes her likeable. Irrespective of whether she pisses the undead or supes off they still respect her enough to deal with her, albeit in a confusing and cryptic or downright murderous fashion at times –
“I left her with Nimue. She’ll handle it.”
“That was not the deal.”
People had kept on telling me Julian was dangerous. I thought it was because they didn’t want me to sleep with her, but I was starting to realise it was because she could rip me to fucking pieces. And probably would if I pissed her off or showed her I was scared.
At the heart of Iron and Velvet is an interesting murder/mystery – I did not know whodunit until I was supposed to – and a good paranormal read. The world building based in and around London, with magical components, was strong. The characters quite well developed particularly given the amount in the book. I like books with a female PI lead – Cynthia Leighton springs straight to mind in ViA – and it is refreshing for this reviewer to find that she is primarily attracted to women, expect for that Patrick phase…pffft. The dialogue was good, I found it to be humorous – dry and clever for the most part, the way I like it. But I will say that I could do without ever reading ‘huh’ again. I loved the knife references throughout – Kate packs a lot of them, all different blades for the different paranormals she just might encounter. Very practical I say, particularly given the paranormals she does encounter. That her attire is often governed by where she can hide her knives is practical 🙂 Every now and then she is girly enough to want to wear a nice dress to a function – as opposed to her oftentimes just-rolled-out-of-bed fashion. I also want to say that Elise, who was thrust upon Kate by the Multitude, is someone I am certainly looking forward to reading more about.
As I read Iron & Velvet I really felt that Alexis Hall had all kinds of fun writing the characters – particularly Kate Kane – and making sure there was plenty of, uh, shit to get knee deep in along the way. I had plenty of fun reading it. Recommended for people who like a noir theme in a contemporary setting with paranormals thrown into the mix and those who don’t mind (more than) a few interesting characters to read about. I shall read book #2 when it comes out as I would like more of Kate Kane and her adventures. Wonderful cover art.
Copy supplied via NetGalley in return for an honest review.