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on 22 April 2009
This is the first book in a new urban fantasy vampire series. Sabina Kane is half Vampire half Mage, and as such she is very much the bad blood in the family tree. Raised by her Grandmother, who is one of a trio of Head Vampires, Sabina is their assassin and is under their control. She is ordered to infiltrate a form of cult and kill their leader, however along the way she learns a few truths about her Grandmother and Vampire politics, things that put Sabina's position in jeopardy.
Coupled with this is the fact that a strange owl and a strange Mage are stalking her. The Mage - Adam Lazarus claims that he can train Sabina to perform magic, even though she has always denied her Mage heritage. Lazarus inevitably provides the sexual tension in the book, while a demon that gets summoned to kill Sabina provides much of the humour.
This is a nice fast paced book, a fine start to what promises to be a good series. There is obviously a lot of scene setting, and I freely admit that after a while I started to skip over the vampire/mage politics, the added fairies and demons were a nice mix. This reminded me a little of Lilith Saintcrow's Danny Valentine novels and Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series, if you liked either of those then you should find something in this to interest you.
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on 1 December 2009
As one reviewer has mentioned - there is nothing new in this book. How many assasins, vampire half breeds..kick butt females do we have to read about? Hmm..plenty. And not all of them are good. However, this book is actually quite funny and doesn't take itself too seriously. The heroine is scatty, how she ever became an assasin is beyond me because she gets stuff badly wrong and she gets totally played...But I liked that. I liked that she wasn't the Be All and End All and only she could save everyone (although I do think some Mary Sueism will come into play in the next book..)

If you read enough of the genre you will probably work out the twists in the book but there was something that kept me turning the pages. Her demon pet is hilarious and there is a cute romance plot with a very sexy mage.

If you fancy something easy and fun to read then this is a book for you. I think I will definately read the next one.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 April 2014
Sabine Kane is an abomination in the supernatural world; the mixed blood daughter of a vampire and a mage she should never have been allowed to survive her birth. Raised in the vampire world, Sabine has spent her life suppressing her mage side; desperate for approval from those that consider her a pariah in the vampire world worthy of becoming nothing more than their trained assassin.

To the supernatural world it would appear that Sabine has at last cast aside her blind obedience to the vampire nation, yet she is working undercover to take down those that threaten the Dominae. Her mission is incredibly dangerous and she may have to do things that leave no doubt her loyalty to the Dominae is severed, plus a powerful wizard is insisting that Sabine acknowledge her magical abilities and start her mage training.

There is almost a frenzied level of action as Sabine jumps from one situation to another. I enjoyed the dark supernatural world created, plus the plot is enhanced by some intriguing characters. Unfortunately though Sabine is a little too blindly obedient to be immediately likeable; in this book's first scene she assassinates a good friend without questioning the order. Yet as the story line progresses there are signs that even Sabine cannot ignore, despite the fact the proof has to be whacked in her face before she is prepared to accept it. Disregarding Sabine's prolonged denial of events; I like what this author has created and want to see what she has planned for this series. 3½ stars
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on 20 June 2013
Sabina Kane is an assassin in the employ of the Dominae, the elders of the vampire race, one of which is her grandmother. However, due to her half-mage heritage, instead of being a high-ranking vampire herself, she is an outcast who must fight for every scrap of respect and validation. When her grandmother, the Alpha Dominae, sends her on her latest assignment, everything is questioned and Sabina must reevaluate her place in the world.

Sabina is a great heroine with a lot of flaws. Most of these stem from the fact that her grandmother, Lavinia, is her only family and has always denied her the only things she has ever wanted: love and support. We really feel for her as she tries to navigate her way through the world the best way she can and our hearts do break for her when she lets these moments of vulnerability break through the emotional armour she has constructed for herself over the years.

This is not to say she is a perfect character. At times she is stubborn and her decisions can be frustrating, but at all times Jaye Wells makes her motivations clear so that we as readers are never confused. Too many times in urban fantasy the heroine will do something or something will happen to her with no other reason than to get her to the next point in the story without any lead up or logic. Wells avoids this, in my opinion, and we can overlook some of Sabina's more annoying character traits as a result.

I also enjoyed her secondary cast, especially the Mischief demon Gighul, who is trapped in the body of a cat for much of the story. He supplies a much needed humourous foil to Sabina's broodiness, making both characters more three-dimensional. Her cold-hearted grandmother Lavinia is great as the uncaring leader who with one word could make Sabina incredibly happy or break her heart.

Some characters needed a bit of work. I wasn't really convinced by Adam Lazarus, the mage, who seemed put in there to add some sort of romantic element and Clovis wasn't really much of a villain. The addition of Vinca, the fun-loving nymph, jarred me a little at first. Her interactions with Sabina were too cozy and did not fit into the world of the novel created beforehand, but she eventually won me over by opening Sabina's eyes to the possibility of friendship.

Truthfully, though, I devoured this book and moved straight onto the sequel, the Mage in Black. I like Wells' mythology and the world she has created is fun, dangerous and interesting. A solid introduction to what is sure to be a well-written urban fantasy series.
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on 15 May 2016
I chose in the first place to buy the book, because it was recommended by Karen Chance, and I love her 'Cassie' books. I believe that the Red-headed stepchild has lived up to my expectations. I was entertained by the characters in the book, and found that Sabina Kane is a believable character. But - there is a but - I think that the book is lacking a bit behind when it comes to creating the Kane universe. I feel like the book is a bit shallow when it comes to details, wherefore I am not as captured by the Kane universe as I would have liked. I hope it will get better in the next book, and I am definetly looking forward to reading it.
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Sabina Kane has always been an outcast thanks to her mixed blood heritage, as a half-vampire/half-mage she is seen by most as an abomination. Abandoned by the mage side of her family as a baby she was raised by her grandmother, a member of the Dominae (the ruling council of the vampires). Sabina has never been able to fully live up to her grandmother's expectations of her, and the vampires are able to find fault in pretty much everything she does but they are the only family she has ever known and she is completely loyal to them.

Although Sabina usually works as an assassin her latest task is much more dangerous and it's not going to be an easy one to pull off. Sabina must convince the entire supernatural community that she has broken ties with the Dominae and go undercover with the enemy to try and uncover his plans. That would be hard enough if she wasn't being stalked by a mage who wants to train her to use her magic and introduce her to the other side of her family but Adam adds a whole new set of complications. Sabina has been raised to hate mages and she doesn't find it easy to trust but the more she uncovers about her past the more she starts to realise that the Dominae, and her grandmother, have been keeping a few too many secrets from her. She is forced to question everything she's ever been told but how can she decide which path she should take from now onwards?

I've seen mixed reviews for Red-Headed Stepchild but I thought it was a great introduction to the Sabina Kane series and it definitely left me wanting to know more. Sabina isn't always the easiest character to get along with, she's spent years being brainwashed by the vampires and even when certain things are staring her in the face she is very quick to try and justify her grandmother's actions. I can't say I blame her for that though, the vampires are the only family she has ever had and no matter how badly they treat her they are still the only ones who have ever been there for her. She may be stubborn but she's not stupid and even though it takes a while she does start to put all the pieces together later on in the story. Once she's made a decision about the right thing to do she is determined to see things through no matter what it costs her.

Although I liked Sabina I have to admit it was the side characters who really stole the show in this book. My favourite was her demon sidekick Giguhl who added a lot of humour to the story and constantly made me laugh while I was reading. I also really liked Adam, the mage who has come searching for Sabina. It took me a while to decide he could be trusted but I liked the chemistry between him and Sabina and I hope we get to see a lot more of them working alongside each other. The world building was done well and I enjoyed finding out about the history of vampires and mages, I still have a few questions but I'm sure it'll all come clear as the series continues. We have a good mix of supernatural characters, alongside the vamps and mages you also have demons, faeries and nymphs but I wouldn't be surprised if there are more species yet to be introduced. Yes this is a fairly standard urban fantasy world but I think the characters are strong enough to pull it through and I'm hooked enough to want to continue reading.

Source: Purchased
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on 29 October 2015
Urban fantasy isn’t usually my genre of interest but I’m a fan of paranormal things so I thought I’d give this book a try.

Sabina Kane is an assassin and the granddaughter of the head of the Dominae, the leaders of the vampire race. Despite her position as a descendant of the most powerful vampire around she’s considered an outcast. Even her Grandmother sees her as a defect. Sabina is a half-breed, part vampire and part mage a combination seen as repugnant in the vampire world where Mages are viewed as the enemy. Sabina is aware that her half-breed status means she has to work twice hard to be the heartless rule abiding assassin her Grandmother expects her to be. She owes her life to the Dominae and believes fully in their rules.

Never questioning what she is told or harboring feelings of remorse for the lives she takes. She excels at her job until the Dominae task her with the assassination of her best friend who reveals that something menacing is going on and her Grandmother asks her to go undercover to infiltrate the very enemy here best friend was accused of working with. From that moment on her life will be turned upside down. Truths that have been hidden from her are revealed, an unknown past will lead her down a new path and she’ll find herself in the arms of her enemy.

Sabina is an interesting character though it wasn’t until toward the end of the book that I finally started to appreciate or like her. I understood her reluctance at questioning and admitting things weren’t exactly on the up with the Dominae but I found it frustrating at how willingly she followed the rules for so long and how she didn’t catch some of the truths staring her straight in the eye. The star of the book is definitely Giguhl. That demon is hilarious and adds a breath of humor to every situation he’s in. I cracked up at his sassy commentary and quick wit. Adam and Vinca are both a welcome contrast to Sabina’s abrasive and smug personality and they add some lightness to an otherwise dark story. The book is fast paced, action packed, and layered with intrigue and some romance. It’s a good start to an interesting story.

Reviewed by Joy for Crystal's Many Reviewers
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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2009
I really wanted to like this book, but it was just so awful I couldn't get past the first half of it. When I read something to effect of 'wet knickers' I just threw the book aside. There's absolutely no tension to the writing and the characters are one dimensional. Sabina is Too Stupid To Live and doesn't act like the supposed 'star assassian' at all -- she blunders around like a drone, carrying out her families wishes with little thought and kills people willy nilly.

The demon character was quite funny but it felt like a very mediocre impersonation of Kim Harrison's books. The other villainous character barely had a personality; and the love interest was lamely predictable.

The plot was quite dull and riddled with cliched dialogue. It was quite disjointed and things seemed to happen rather randomly without any serious connection. I literally forced myself to read that first half. I'd stay far away from this book. Having said this, I feel like I should say something nice... the premise is quite unique and interesting but the execution utterly let it down. It's a shame.

Check out Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series Dead Witch Walking, for a humourous and well written urban fantasy. She also writes demons like no other.
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on 25 September 2012
Came across Sabina Kaye through "The Mage in Black", which I picked up months ago. This book sat on the shelf for quite a while due to a growing extensive library of my other fave authors. After reading "Book 2", was compelled to look for the others in the series. I have not been disappointed in the least. The rest of the set arrived last Friday (21.09.12)and it goes without saying that Sabina Kaye has been my reading material all weekend.

This series for me is a welcome change in paranormal fiction. Sabina herself is sassy, whilst her two comrades in arms are fantastic characters on their own. Love the dialogue of Giguhl and the calming influence of Adam.

It's certainly fast paced and a lot of fun. The whole series is a definite keeper.

If you've not come across Sabina Kaye yet, when you do, you will be in for a hell of a journey.
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on 5 February 2010
To be honest, I found this book pretty generic and slow - I got no real feeling of pace or tension, just Sabina bumbling along from one thing to the next, and whilst I did want to know what happened in the end, I did find that once I got there, I didn't really care.
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