Blood Bound is the second book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is a walker who can turn into a coyote. For reasons I don't totally understand yet (beyond the fact of being different animal) this makes her strikingly different from the werewolves she grew up around. In the paranormal world Briggs has created, there are werewolves, vampires, fae, and walkers, or else at least one walker, as so far Mercy seems to be the only one. Humans have known about the fae for a while but have only recently found out that werewolves are real. The vampires have wisely decided to keep their existence a secret, at least for the time being.
Vampires are evil, or so Mercy has been told. Still, she counts one as a friend, or at least a fairly close acquaintance. When Stefan asks Mercy to accompany him to a meeting with another vampire and act as a witness, Mercy can't refuse. She does owe him a favor. This other vampire turns out to be more powerful than either Mercy or Stefan expected. And, he's a lot more trouble. There's a heat wave on and people's tempers seem to be shorter than usual. Everyone knows the heat can drive people crazy, but Mercy is beginning to suspect that it is more than just the heat is behind the string of violence erupting throughout the Tri Cities.
I like Mercy. She is strong willed, smart, and brave. She's not superhuman. She is well aware of both her strengths and her limitations, which notwithstanding that this is a paranormal story, makes her a realistic and believable. She's not trying to solve the world's problems, taking down one bad guy at a time. She's a mechanic who happens to have a lot of unusual friends and when she finds herself drawn into a situation, she figures out a way to handle it. Mercy is sarcastic and funny and an all around great character to spend some time with.
The side characters are also interesting. There's Sam, Mercy's first love. He clearly still wants her but he hurt her in the past and he and Mercy are trying to figure out what kind of relationship to have in the present. Adam is the local pack alpha, Mercy's neighbor and semi-boyfriend. They are awkwardly dating. As an alpha, Adam finds it difficult to not be controlling and domineering but realizes he cannot simply expect Mercy to be subservient to him the way other wolves are. Being in tune with her animal side herself, Mercy struggles to not simply submit to Adam and not get subsumed in the werewolf hierarchy and its politics. Stefan is the wild card. As Briggs writes them, vampires are inherently cold and untrustworthy. Yet Stefan clearly cares for Mercy, and he has a sense of humor, driving a van painted like the Scooby Doo mystery van. Mercy and Stefan have something going on but it's too soon to know yet if it is a genuine friendship, something more or something less.
This is a great series. I can't help but compare it to the Southern Vampire book series and its HBO counterpart, True Blood. The Southern Vampire series and True Blood were over the top with craziness. It's early in the series but even with a bunch of supes running around making life difficult (but interesting), the Mercy Thompson series has a lot less melodrama. This isn't a criticism of either series, just noting that they're different. Next up, Iron Kissed.