Review: Pure Healing, by Aja James

Pure Healing (2012)
By Aja James
How did I get this book? I bought it.
Available on Amazon.

Aja James’s Pure Healing is one hot read. This paranormal romance, hopefully the first in a series, is quite well written. And it’s hot. The pacing is quick, and the plot is clear. And it’s hot. The characters are well developed. And did I mention it’s hot? ‘Cause it is. Big time.

The story revolves around a group of blood-consuming beings known as the Pure Ones. They’re not vampires; actually, they battle vampires. They’re immortal, and each possesses a unique gift. They also have a Cardinal Rule — no intercourse except with one’s “Eternal Mate.” Getting frisky is okay, but if you go all the way, so to speak, you waste away and die a month later. Or you turn into a vampire.

Pure Healing focuses on a male named Valerius and a female named Rain. As the official healer of the Pure Ones, Rain is partially exempt from the no-intercourse rule: she’s required to take a consort for one month every ten years to recharge her spiritual batteries. Val has never served as her consort because his past makes the very idea of sex unbearable, even though he’s intensely drawn to Rain. (Val’s past is, in fact, so unpleasant that survivors of sexual violence should be aware that some of the material here could be disturbing, despite the care with which James handles it.) Rain has her own reasons for keeping her emotional distance from her consort. James weaves all these threads together into a wonderfully vexed and tortured relationship. The situation positive throbs with desire and doubt, need and denial. And did I mention it’s hot? It’s hot.

The group of Pure Ones we get to know contains a number of well defined individuals, and hopefully future books will take up their stories. I’d particularly like to see a story focusing on Sophia, the young queen of the Pure Ones. In Pure Healing, Sophia provides a brief first-person frame narrative — an engaging way of handling exposition and tying up loose threads. Her voice is terrific, and I’d love to see more of her.

I also hope future books will do more world-building: why is Sophia the queen? Why is Boston Pure-Ones Central, so to speak? Where did the Pure Ones come from? Were all vampires once Pure Ones? And who made the tortuous intercourse-only-with-one’s-eternal-mate rule? Are there deities behind all this? I’m waiting with bated breath to get a deeper understanding of the neat world James is constructing.

The copy of the book I read had significant formatting problems — no title page, no copyright claim, no page breaks between chapters, and paragraph indents that come and go. However, the author mentioned she was preparing a correctly formatted copy, so I imagine the flawed version I saw is now a thing of the past. The book’s cover is professional looking, but I wonder if the black-and-white photography and the fonts selected quite fit the romance genre, which strikes me as more full-color and serify. Well, there’s nothing wrong with standing out from your genre, so long as readers find you. It’s definitely a good-looking cover.

At any rate, this is one book readers should definitely find. I read it in one sitting — it was that involving. Highly recommended.

This review will be cross-posted to Amazon.