Blood Bound (Unbound Series #1)

Blood Bound (Unbound Series #1)

4.2 82
by Rachel Vincent

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By blood, by word, by magic…

Most can't touch the power. But Liv Warren is special—a paranormal tracker who follows the scent of blood.

Liv makes her own rules, and the most important one is trust no one.

But when her friend's daughter goes missing, Liv has no choice but to find the girl. Thanks to a childhood oath, Liv can't rest

…  See more details below


By blood, by word, by magic…

Most can't touch the power. But Liv Warren is special—a paranormal tracker who follows the scent of blood.

Liv makes her own rules, and the most important one is trust no one.

But when her friend's daughter goes missing, Liv has no choice but to find the girl. Thanks to a childhood oath, Liv can't rest until the child is home safe. But that means trusting Cam Caballero, the former lover forbidden to her.

Bound by oath and lost in desire for a man she cannot have, Liv is racing to save the child from a dark criminal underworld where secrets, lies, trauma and danger lurk around every corner…every touch…every kiss.

And more blood will be spilled before it's over…

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A high-octane plot with characters you can really care about. Vincent is a welcome addition to the genre."

-#1 New York Times bestseller Kelley Armstrong on Stray

"Compelling and edgy, dark and evocative, Stray is a must read! I loved it from beginning to end."

-New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter

"The second installment of Vincent's urban fantasy series (after Stray) features a well-thought-out vision of werecat social structure as well as a heroine who insists on carving her own path, even if it means breaking some of her society's most sacred taboos."

-Library Journal on Rogue

"Vincent continues to impress with the freshness of her approach and voice. Action and intrigue abound, and Faythe is still a delight."

-RT Book Reviews on Prey

Library Journal
Paranormal tracker Liv Warren can find anyone by following the smell of blood. When a friend's child goes missing, Warren joins the hunt to find the girl before she falls into the hands of the criminal underworld—and worse. The first volume in new trilogy by the author of the popular "Shifters" series.

Product Details

Publication date:
Unbound Novel Series, #1
Product dimensions:
3.96(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.24(d)

Read an Excerpt

"You sure it's him, Liv?" Booker swiped one hand over his sweaty, stubbly face as we stared at the lit window on the third floor. The apartment building was long and plain, like a cracker box on its side, and the moonless night only smeared the sides of the featureless building into the ambient darkness.

I nodded, shoving both cold–chapped hands into my jacket pockets. It was warm for early March, but still cold for me.

"How sure?"

I closed my eyes and clutched the blood–stiffened swatch of cloth in my right pocket, inhaling deeply through my nose, and the world exploded into a bouquet of scents. Relying on years of training, I sorted through them rapidly, mentally tossing aside those I couldn't use. The metal tang of several huge trash bins. The chemical bite of Booker's cologne. And the pervasive, ambient smells of life east of the river—motor oil, fried food, and sweat.

What was left, with those more obvious smells out of the way, was the trail I'd followed all over town, as much a feel as a true scent, and a virtual match to the blood sample in my pocket.

I am a Tracker. More specifically—and colloquially—I'm a bloodhound. Given a decent, recent sample of your blood, I can find you no matter where you hide. Officially, my range is about eighty miles—on the high end of average. Unofficially…well, let's just say I'm good at what I do. But not too good. Too much Skill will get you noticed. And I know better than to get noticed.

Booker cleared his throat and I opened my eyes to find myself staring up at the lit window again—the only tenant still awake. "Ninety–five percent. It's either him, or a close male relative, and that's the best you're gonna get with a dry blood sample," I said, as water dripped from a gutter somewhere to my left. "Tell Rawlinson I'll send him a bill."

Booker pulled his black ski cap over his ears. "He's not gonna like that,"

"I don't give a shit what he likes." I turned and walked back the way I'd come, listening as my steel–toed work boots echoed in the alley. I was exhausted and pissed off from being woken at two on a Friday morning, yet still pleased for the excuse to charge nearly double my usual rate. Office space in the south fork doesn't come cheap.

"Warren!" a deep voice barked from behind me, and I groaned beneath my breath. I turned slowly to see Adam Rawlinson step out from behind a rusty Dumpster, his dark hair, skin, and expensive wool coat blending into the thick shadows. No telling how long he'd been there. Watching. Listening.

Travelers—shadow–walkers—were notorious for shit like that. They can step into a shadow in their own homes and step out of another shadow across town a split–second later. You never know they're coming until they're already there. It's a convenient Skill—except when it's annoying as hell.

"Hey, Adam. Kinda late for a stroll, isn't it?" Especially considering that his home address was at least two tax brackets above the inner–city grime now clinging to the soles of his dress shoes. "What? You don't trust me?"

Rawlinson scowled, his frown exaggerated by deep shadows. "Ninety–five percent isn't good enough, Liv."

I shrugged, my arms crossed over my dark jacket. "You're not going to get a hundred percent certainty without a better blood sample or his full name to flesh out the scent."

He nodded; I wasn't telling him anything new. "But you'd know for sure if you had a current sample to compare it to, right? Something fresh?"

"I don't get my hands dirty anymore. You know that." I follow the blood scent, and I can Track by name if I have to. But that's where my job ends—no reason for me to be there when the action starts. My life was messy enough without adding blood spatter.

"Booker's here for the takedown. I just need you to get close enough for a positive ID," Rawlinson insisted. "We don't know his name, and we're not going to get a better blood sample. I played hell getting that one out of the evidence room as it is. This is personal, Liv."

Damn it. Booker was working without a partner and Adam Rawlinson had come out to see the show. This one was off the books. "Is this about Alisha?" Raw–linson's daughter had been killed in a carjacking the week before. He'd shown up for work the next day like nothing had happened. Like her death meant nothing to him.

Here was proof to the contrary. I was almost relieved.

His gaze never wavered. "The cops had a near miss, and one of them winged the bastard last night. The sample's from the passenger's seat he bled all over."

I exhaled, watching him closely. "Why do I get the feeling you're not going to turn this asshole in?" Raw–linson's operation had a rock–solid reputation. Official bounty–hunting in cooperation with bail bondsmen and the proper authorities, all on the up–and–up. He would turn in the target, collect a check for freelance services from the city, then pay the rest of his crew. Which used to include me.

But this time…

"Because you're a very smart girl." He started walking toward the building, and I followed reluctantly. "You know, I'd love to have you back on the crew full time."

"That's because your new Tracker couldn't find his own dick in the dark." I hesitated, and the night was quiet, but for our footsteps on cracked asphalt. "You know better than to start shit east of the river without a work order, Adam. What if someone sees you?"

"That's why you're here." He met my gaze, and I had to respect his honesty, even if it pissed me off. "Everyone knows you're working for Ruben Cavazos, so no one will think to report this, if you're with us."

"I work for myself!" And myself had to pay rent on a shitty apartment and a tiny office, repairs on a car saddled with more used parts than Frankenstein's monster, and interest and principle on student loans for a degree I'd never once put to use. "I freelance for Cavazos just like I freelance for you." And everyone knew that black hats paid better than white knights. "Having me with you isn't going to keep your feet cool while you walk through flames, Adam. You need to let the police handle this."

"We both know there's nothing they can do."

But that wasn't true. They could do plenty—but they wouldn't. Not as long as the courts refused to recognize Tracking as a legal form of identification and discovery. The world knew about us—the Skilled had been dragged into the spotlight almost thirty years ago—but the government had yet to officially recognize our existence. We were the biggest open secret in history. We had no rights and no protection under the law, beyond those afforded us as natural–born citizens.

What that meant in legal circles was that no government office could officially hire Binders to draft or seal contracts. Nor could they use evidence gathered via Trackers, like me. Everything involving the dozen or so Skilled abilities had to be unofficial consultations and contract work. And completely off the books.

What that meant in criminal circles was the gradual formation of the single most profitable—and ruthless— black market system in history. Because the government didn't officially recognize our Skills, they couldn't regulate or police them, which left a huge gap at the top of the power pyramid. A gap that had been filled by various Skilled crime syndicates across the world, but most notably—and locally—by rival black market kingpins Jake Tower and Ruben Cavazos, who—together—controlled more than two thirds of the city.

Think of my city like a giant peace sign, divided by the river. Everything east of the river is controlled by Cavazos, everything west of the river by Tower. And on the south side, cradled by the fork in the river, you can live, eat, and breathe without lining the pockets of either organization—but you'll do it at a much higher price, because those in the know who can will pay to avoid picking a side.

"Okay, look. Now that you've found him, you should just watch him until he makes a mistake, then go after him legally. Stick to what you're good at, Adam. Anything else would just be dripping blood into the shark tank."

"Wait for him to make a mistake?" Rawlinson demanded softly, and I nodded, already feeling guilty for the suggestion. "How long will that take, if it even happens? Coming in here once, with you, to take care of business—that's one thing. But if we loiter, just waiting for this bastard to commit another crime… Well, that's just not an option on the east side, is it?" His gaze pled with me, and I resisted the overwhelming urge to stare at the ground. "She was my daughter, Warren," Rawlinson said, and the rare glimpse of his raw pain, made me groan on the inside, even as I spoke the question I shouldn't have asked.

"What do you want me to do? Go in and prick his finger?" My hand clenched around the stiff cloth in my pocket.

"I don't care how you ID him. Just get close enough to tell for sure, and we'll handle the rest."

"That's going to cost you." Sympathizing with his pain didn't change my bottom line—freelancers don't get benefits, and I was currently without healthcare, a dangerous position to be in, considering my line of work.

"Fine. Bill me."

Against my better judgment, I led the way into the dark, quiet building with Rawlinson and Booker at my back. Most of the apartments were empty. Rumor had it the city planned to knock the eyesore down as soon as they managed to relocate the last six tenants—and convince Cavazos to sell the building. They probably had no idea there was a squatter on the third floor.

We crept silently up the stairs, the stiff bit of cloth clutched in my right hand, my fingers rubbing over and over the rough spot. I could feel him, so long as I was touching his blood. I could smell his sweat and taste his fear, both manifestations of the smear of psychic energy people leave behind with every drop of their blood.

For me, it's a little harder, working from only a name, but it can be done. And it's easiest with both a name and fresh blood. But that rarely happens. UnSkilled criminals are much more careful than the unSkilled general population, and in hiding from police forensics labs, they're inadvertently hiding from Trackers.

Even stupid criminals don't want to be found.

The door between the stairwell and the third floor hall was long gone, so we could see the light pouring from the crack beneath his door the moment we stepped onto the landing. The energy signature was stronger here, but no clearer. I was going to have to see the bastard to confirm his ID.

Damn it.

I snuck down the hall silently with Booker and Raw–linson on my heels until we stood in front of the lit apartment. I gestured for them to give me some space, and they stood to either side of the door, backs pressed against the grimy walls, out of sight from the occupant, unless he actually stepped into the hall.

Then I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

When I'd worked for Rawlinson, I'd done both the Tracking and the takedown, and back then, I would have looked the part—harmless, vapid young woman who needed jumper cables, or a telephone, or a big, strong arm to open a jar of pickles. Anything to get close enough to Taser the target and collect a paycheck.

It's amazing what a few years' experience and the threat of mortal injury with no health insurance can do to change your perspective. Especially with the clock ticking in my ear and the certainty that I had no time to be incapacitated by injury.

Footsteps clomped toward me from inside the apartment and the door squealed open to reveal a tall, thick man with two days' growth on his chin and suspicion shining in his eyes. He was armed—the hand held behind his right thigh was a dead giveaway—probably with the gun that had killed Alisha Rawlinson.

"Hey, sorry to bother you so late, but—" I let my right arm fly, and my fist smashed into his nose.

The target gave a wet gurgle of surprise and pain, and swung his arm up, too stunned to actually aim his pistol as blood poured from his ruined face. I ducked below the gun and smashed his wrist into the door facing as hard as I could. Bone crunched. The target screamed again and his fist opened. The gun thumped to the floor and Booker kicked it down the hall.

I stepped back and let him take over, wiping the target's blood from my face with the tissue Rawlinson offered. "It's him." I handed the tissue back as Booker pounded the target into unconsciousness in the doorway. The rest of this floor was empty, and even if one of the few tenants heard something, they wouldn't come out to investigate. Not on this side of town. Not in the middle of the night.

Not if they had any wish to see daylight.

"Thank you, Liv," Rawlinson said, as Booker dragged the unconscious man into his apartment.

"Don't thank me. Pay me." I peeled off my blood–stained jacket and handed it to him. "And if this doesn't come clean, you owe me one just like it." Then I took off toward the stairwell without looking back, trying to ignore the repetitive thud of fist hitting flesh, echoing in the hall behind me.

On the street again, I exhaled, then glanced back at the building behind me. Silence, except for my own footsteps and the highway traffic two blocks away. True to his word, Rawlinson was keeping things quiet.

I crossed the road in a hurry, digging in my pocket for my keys, but froze when I spotted my car—and the man leaning against the hood. He was built of shadows, untouched by the streetlight on the corner, but I'd know that silhouette anywhere.

"Hey, Liv." Cameron Caballero stood, and the last six years without him suddenly seemed surreal, like I'd dreamed the whole thing, and now I'd finally woken up to the truth. To how my life should have gone.

But then a car engine started, stalled, then restarted in the distance, and my life—the gritty reality—snapped back into place like emotional whiplash, leaving me gasping for breath.

Him showing up like this again wasn't fair. But "fair" had never been less relevant.

"Not tonight, Cam." Mentally steeling myself, I clomped toward him and my car, assuming he'd move when I tried to unlock my door. But instead of sliding out of the way, he stood, inches away now, intentionally invading my personal space. I could step back, but that would be acknowledging that being so close to him still affected me. Or I could stand my ground and make him back down.

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Blood Bound 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought i wouldnt enjoy this book but in fact i lost sleep over this amazing tale! It had me laughing all the way and cursing out loud a truely amazing must read :)
marianne68 More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Great plot, good writing and a story that will make you want to read more.
Olivia_B More than 1 year ago
As a big fan of the Shifter series, I was very excited to find that Rachel Vincent had a new series. Blood Bound is a great book, one that is hard to put down. The characters are interesting, the plot is ingenious, and the twists were just right. I think it would have been stronger if the POV hadn't shifted between the two main characters, but it was a good way to reveal the story since everyone was hiding secrets and harboring a decade's worth of back story. I'm certainly going to keep reading this series! 
Book_WhispererJO More than 1 year ago
As a dedicated fan of Vincent other series it was a no question that Blood Bound would be a must read. This debut reminded me a lot of Faith in the Shifters series; with a history of romance between the main characters it is easily to jump right into the story without a lot of detail. As the story progresses readers will learn the ins and outs of the characters while experiencing their powerful and intense journey. Blood Bound is an adult paranormal romance, and in comparison to her shifters series is seems to hold back, so of the intensity that I have come to expect. That being said I must also note the the potential is obvious, and I look for more in Shadow Bound. Unfortunately, I after concluding I discovered that book two is about Kori, rather than Liv and Cam, but after one book under belt I look for the comfort to display in the installments to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kainshottie More than 1 year ago
It's been  little while since I have read any of Rachel Vincent's books, and I have been sitting on this one for a while. I am so glad that I finally had the chance to read it. It. Is. Amazing. I loved Rachel Vincent's Shifter series and I can say that I am going to be itching to get the rest of this one as well. The story is about Liv and Cam. They are two very special Skilled people. Skilled people are people with a special skill that normal humans do not have, kind of like the movie Push. Both Cam and Liv are called Trackers because they have to ability to find people using either their name or their blood. The range that their skills work vary, but since they are typically hired while the person is still in their range, everything works out. Well Liv and Cam were in love, so much so that Cam thought they would someday be husband and wife. Then one day Liv walks out on him with no explanation at all. The story takes place six years later. Cam has been keeping track of where Liv is and Liv has been trying to survive. The city they both live in is divided into three territories. One ruled by the gangster/criminal Jake Tower. Another ruled by the gangster/criminal Reuben Cavazos. The third is considered free, but you have to pay a lot of money to be able to remain unaffiliated. Liv has gotten herself mixed up with the Cavazos side of town, trying not to become someone she doesn't want to be. When Cam shows up on one of her jobs begging her to visit with an old friend, she knows that this is going to be nothing but bad news. She had no clue how bad it was really going to get.  Read more reviews at Identity Discovery Blog.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AnitaBlakeFan More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this new book from Rachel Vincent. The new world brings in a group of complex characters in a mafia type setting. Only this is even more difficult to get out of than even the mafia. You are bound by blood and cannot go against orders upon pain of a slow death. I was not a huge fan of the first person dialog from two different questions. I would prefer stories that have more than one point of view to be written in third person. At the beginning of each chapter you had to take a second to figure out who was talking. That is really my only complaint about the book, and it is not a big complaint. I love Rachel Vincent's work. Someone else wrote that she can do no wrong and I am inclined to agree.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love love love
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At chapter one I was filled with the joy of reading a new to me book. Hmmm…seems like a strong heroine, oooh humans with powers. By chapter five I had lost that new book glow and was looking for reasons to continue because this book couldn’t end quickly enough. By chapter ten, ambivalence had settled in for the remainder of the read. I wanted to care about the characters but never found them engaging enough. They seemed to be too self-serving and manipulative for my taste. Secrets? Ok, I get that but this?!?!? They were galloping into domination country, with all dominants. Also there was way too much drama. I could hear the music where just they unveiled the killer - several times! (*shudder*) I was dizzy from the ever changing POV's. So what did I like? Actually the plot was intriguing enough to make me want to read it and it is what kept me going. Other than the characterization the mechanics of the story were just fine. I’m undecided if I would continue with this series because the first of a series can be forgiven.
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