Crusade and Damned by N. Holder & D. Viguié

After reading Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié’s short story, Passing, in the The Eternal Kiss anthology, I was really excited to see it turned into a full blown series. However, I really can’t say that the novels, Crusade and Damned, were as good as the short story.

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The ultimate battle. The ultimate love.

For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain’s Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.

Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated—and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.

Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself—and her heart.

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There is a fine line between love and sacrifice….

Antonio would do anything for his beloved fighting partner Jenn. He protects her, even suppresses his vampire cravings to be with her. Together, they defend humanity against the Cursed Ones. But tensions threaten to fracture their hunting team and his loyalty—his love—is called into question.

With an even more sinister power on the rise, Jenn must overcome her personal vendettas.

Antonio and Jenn need each other to survive, but evil lurks at every turn. With humanity’s fate hanging in the balance, they must face down the darkness…or die trying.

That’s not to say Crusade and Damned weren’t good.  They were.  However with the multiple viewpoints, it was really hard to stay focused on the story.  Passing was told from the single viewpoint of Jenn Leitner during the graduation exam at the Hunter Academy and I really enjoyed the premise that was introduced at the end of the story.  However, Crusade isn’t simply told by Jenn, but by her entire team – Holger, Skye, Jamie, Eriko and most importantly Antonio – and occasionally by their master, Father Juan.  While I can’t complain about being able to see the world that Holder and Viguié have created from different perspectives, I do have to say that it drags down the pacing of the story.  Just as you start to get involved with Jenn or Antonio, we’re switched to a different character who may not be in the same scene as the previous speaker.  With everything that goes on, the transitions between scenes and events take longer, which kind of made it difficult to stay attached to the story.  I was still curious about what was going to happen, and about the characters themselves, but I wasn’t able to get totally engaged into the story.

Sadly the multiple viewpoints are repeated in Damned, which again, makes it difficult to stay connected with the story.  In addition to this, the characters themselves weren’t as new and their flaws started to show more.  The Salamancan team is quite a blend of personalities and they don’t necessarily mesh. While they were together in Crusade, the team was still new enough that each individual was still trying to figure out their part on the team and what their chemistry was going to be like with the others.  In Damned, roles were established, relationships were explored more and personalities were not hidden.

While Jenn, Skye, Holger and Antonio seemed to find a working rhythm within the team, I really can’t say the same as Eriko and Jamie.  They both enrolled in the Academy for very specific reasons and those reasons really didn’t involve a team.  Eriko thought the Hunter was going to be a solitary individual and that was what she wanted.  Jamie just wanted to kill vampires and werewolves since they were all evil.  Getting added to a team of individuals who were suppose to operate together, really messed with their ideals and what they intended to do after graduating.  Plus with Jamie, he’s so set on hating werewolves and vampires, that he can’t get past that hatred to see Holger and Antonio as individuals.

Honestly, I didn’t have as much of an issue with Eriko as I did with Jamie.  His animosity was just too overpowering and really took away any chance of the team working together as a cohesive unit.  It seemed like he was creating conflicts when there really didn’t need to be one, which helped to slow the pacing down.

While the story wasn’t able to thoroughly keep my attention, I can honestly say that I can’t wait until the third novel comes out next year.  Yes the story reads a little slow and the switching POVs can get irritating, but the story itself is still fascinating.  The idea that the vampires have pretty much taken over the world, making the various governments do their bidding, and resistance cells all over the world are trying to take them down – the intricacies of the plot make it worth sticking out.  There is a lot going on, but it’s a lot of power plays from fractions that really don’t have anything to do with each other, but they are going to impact the final battle.

Overall, if you can get past the multiple viewpoints, or if you even enjoy that story element, you’ll find a pretty decent story with Crusade and Damned.  This is definitely a story of flawed characters, a team that isn’t always victorious and quite often left to retreat in order to link their wounds.  While the story itself may have a slight pacing problem, Holder and Viguié definitely keep the action going in Crusade and Damned so it’s hard to get bored and the characters won’t let you forget they are there.

Read Order:
Crusade
Damned

Also reviewed by:
Crusade: Confessions of a Bookaholic, Ex Libris, Bitten by Books and I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Damned will be released August 30th.

About Jackie 3273 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.