There are now two novels and a novella in the series, and I’ve just finished reading all three. I’d read the first one, Nocturnal Origins, when it was originally released, so I re-read it and followed it with the other two, Nocturnal Serenade and the novella, Nocturnal Haunts.
Green does a pretty good job of worldbuilding—there aren’t a lot of differences in her Dallas from ours. Except of course for the fact that there are shapeshifters in her Dallas. In fact, there are not one but two kinds: the “pure” who are genetically shapeshifters who inherit their ability, and “weres” who are made shapeshifters, usually wolves, by infection. Needless to say, the “pure” and the “were” do not play well together.
Into this mess steps Mackenzie Santos, a career detective with the Dallas Police Department, who has no idea what’s going on. Investigating a strange homicide, she is attacked and bitten by what appears to be a wolf or a large dog, and killed. Or so everyone thinks. But later, at the morgue she sits up on the gurney and scares the medical examiner half or three quarters to death.
Strange things begin to happen to Santos. She has weird dreams. She finds herself in places she didn’t remember going, and in many cases is naked. Eventually it begins to dawn on her that she is a shapeshifter, and she can become a jaguar (the beast, not the car).
Santos has no idea why this is happening, but her Captain and other members of DPD do know. They are hidden shapeshifters belonging to something called “the pride.”
Santos is amazing at how well she adapts to being a large cat part of the time, and at the end of Nocturnal Origins, she takes on the big baddie were in “the Circle” and wipes the floor with him, killing him and ending his conspiracy to take over the Dallas area were pack.
In Nocturnal Serenade, things become much clearer. The Pride has as much DNA capability as the CSI lab—for a very good reason.. they ARE the CSI lab. They discover that Santos belongs to an old bloodline of “pures” and that explains who she is, even though she didn’t know what she was. Apparently, when the were bit her, instead of infecting her, it turned on the existing shapeshifter genes. Also in Nocturnal Serenade, we meet her mother, from whom she is estranged and her grandmother, from whom she is not. Her mother, not a shifter, has worked very hard to keep her children (Mackensie and her younger twin half-siblings) from knowing about the family “curse.” The grandmother, of course, is a powerful shapeshifter and formerly one of the members of the Conclave…the organization that rules the pures and the weres.
The big issue for both is that human gene therapy and DNA sequencing technology is becoming quickly good enough for the normal humans to accidentally find out about the shapeshifters in their midst.
Of course, since this is a paranormal romance, there is the obligatory love interest for Mackenzie—Jackson Caine, the pride’s “second” or assistant leader.
This becomes a little bit of a readers’ trance issue with the novella, Nocturnal Haunts, because Jackson Caine does not appear in it. After the first two books, and the fact that Nocturnal Haunts is long enough to be a novel, not a novella, I found that a little like a continuity break in a long running TV show story arc.
Green is self-admittedly one of the leaders of the indie movement in self-publishing, and for the most part, the three books look pretty professional. The copy editing is rather poor, with lots of typographical errors that should have been caught, but frankly I’ve seen worse in mainstream publishers’ releases. The story editing is good, and the books are enjoyable and interesting and exciting. It isn’t hard to achieve a willing suspension of disbelief and follow the story line, however implausible on the surface, because Green is a good enough writer, a craftsperson, to be able to sell it to us.
How do I rate the "Nocturnal Lives series"? I give it four stars. Get these stories on your Kindle or Nook and you won’t be disappointed.