The Golden Lily: Bloodlines, #2 -- Richelle Mead
Spoilers about Bloodlines may follow, so read at your own risk.
Despite having already completed high school, Sydney Sage is a student at Amberwood Prep in Palm Springs. She's there in her capacity as an Alchemist, attempting to keep Jill Dragomir, a Moroi princess, safely hidden away from the assassins who want to off her for political reasons.
In living and working so closely with vampires, Sydney is starting to have a really difficult time reconciling her experiences with her training: she's always been taught that vampires are evil monsters full stop, but over the course of her colorful career, she's learned that that's just not true. She can't argue with her superiors, of course, because an Alchemist who befriends a vampire is considered a traitor to the human race, and will likely be sent to an Alchemist Re-education Center. (Which is just as pleasant a place as the title would lead you to expect.)
Anyway, so Sydney's dealing with these conflicting feelings, which are complicated by the fact that her Independent Study Teacher is secretly a witch (the magical kind) who has discovered that Sydney has a proficiency for magic, but since Sydney's also been indoctrinated to believe that magic is Bad News, she won't practice, so her teacher is blackmailing her into Doing Spells. (<--As Sydney's already graduated high school, I don't really understand why grades are an issue, but she does lots of things that aren't entirely logical, so whatever.)
Also, she's started dating this dude, Brayden, who's pretty much her male twin. (Think Seth Cohen and Anna on The O.C.) Call me crazy, though, because it sure seems like she enjoys hanging out with Adrian the vampire a whole lot more...
Um. Despite the plot holes and the issues with unbelievable characterization (Sydney's convenient on-again/off-again social skills and/or deductive reasoning), I continue to find this series completely enjoyable. While Sydney's cluelessness about Adrian's Feelings for her (not to mention SPOILER BUT IT'S OBVIOUS her cluelessness about her own Lack of Feelings for Brayden END SPOILER) does get a tad grating, it's also nice to see a paranormal heroine who isn't constantly having the Which Dude Is The Dude For Her internal debate. She also takes an amazingly long time to figure out not only that there is a Big Vampire Hunter Secret (SPOILER there are Secret Vampire Hunters END SPOILER), but that she is friends with one of them. Considering her training and the clues (think, like, BLINKING NEON SIGNS) she has to work with, it seems ridiculous that it takes her so long to add 2 and 2.
On the plus side, big points to Richelle Mead for the way that she's dealt with Sydney's food/body issues.
So, yeah. If that sort of inconsistency drives you bananas, I'd say that this isn't the series for you. But if you want a fun vampire story featuring a semi-capable heroine, occasionally hilarious dialogue (mostly from Adrian, who refuses to ever get Brayden's name right), and a not-remotely-convoluted-but-still-entertaining mystery element, you might want to give it a whirl.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.