First let me say, I love Ms. Mead's Succubus series. Total keepers, waiting on Book 5 coming out next year (cliffhanger much?). As a general rule, if I find a series I like, and that author has written other series, I don't read them. I don't know why, I guess I'm afraid I'm not going to like them as much? BUT, in this case, I've heard so many good things about Vampire Academy I decided to break my unwritten rule and read the first book. As soon as I was done I rushed out to the store to get the next three books (and added Dimitri to my list of fictional boyfriends)! I will say, as a parent, I should probably be disapproving of the romantic storyline in these books, but I can't help myself - they're sooo good!!!
In Ms. Mead's world, vampires are either Moroi - the good guys, born from two Moroi parents, or Strogoi - the bad guys, turned either by draining and killing a human or by other Strogoi. The Moroi do drink blood, but just a bit at a time. They are also considered Royalty in the vampire world, and the dhampirs are their bodyguards.
In Vampire Academy, we meet Rose, a dhampir (half vampire, half human), and Lissa (Moroi vampire) her best friend. Rose is going to be Lissa's bodyguard when they graduate; they share a special bond: Rose can feel Lissa's emotions and occasionally "jump" into her head and see and experience what's going on with Lissa. Rose broke Lissa out of school when Lissa was worried someone was after her. They've been on the run for 2 years, but have been found and brought back to school. Rose thinks things are going to be better, and they both jump back into the school routine and try to catch up what they missed while they were gone. Rose must take extra guardian classes with Dimitri, the guardian who found and returned them to school (and my newest fictional boyfriend!). Problem is, she thinks he's hot. There's a bunch of angsty teenage drama, which I actually enjoyed, and someone is targeting Lissa by leaving dead animals in her room or her bag. Rose tries to figure out what's going on, and eventually she figures it out but it's too late, Lissa is gone and she must use their connection to find her and save her.
In Frostbite, Rose and Lissa are still at school. There's been some upheaval out in the "real" world, and Strogoi have figured out how to break wards and attack Moroi. For safety reasons, they've decided that the students and their families will spend Christmas break together in a swanky ski lodge. Rose is trying to sort through her feelings about her mother, Dimitri- who has a love interest, and her friend Mason - who wants to be more than friends. When Rose gets confidential information about a group of Strogoi holed up in a nearby city, she tells her friends and her friends decide to go kick butt. Rose knows she shouldn't have said anything and decides to bring them back. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine what happened next; things will never be the same.
Shadow Kiss, the third book in the series, continues on the aftermath of Frostbite. Lissa's kidnapper from the first book is going to trial, which is stressful enough, but Rose is seeing also seeing the ghost of a student. Rose is maturing in this book, and her relationships with her friends are changing. Her relationship with Dimitri is changing too. She's learning how to be a better Guardian and finding out what some of the sacrifices are that she's going to have to make. The end ripped my heart out, and left me desperate to start Blood Promise.
Ms. Mead's latest, Blood Promise, picks up a little bit after where Shadow Kiss left off. Rose is in Russia, looking for Dimitri. She finds his family, and those scenes were some of the sweetest parts of the book. She meets up with a some interesting people there and realizes she must leave to continue her search for Dimitri. What happens when she eventually finds him was gut wrenching. In one sense, I was hoping she'd found happiness, and in another I knew it couldn't be. While she was away she was still "peeking" in on Lissa, and communicating with Adrian in her dreams, so the readers know what's going on back in the USA - and let me tell you, it's a lot. She has to confront her worst fear, and the journey to get there is full of twists and turns. This last installment leaves me with a bit of hope for Rose's future happiness. I can't help it but I still like Dimitri, and I'm starting to like Adrian as a love-interest. I can't wait to see how Ms. Mead plays this out!