This is my first experience with Dani Harper's work, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Typically books that are marketed as 'humorous' don't work for me, but I keep trying them hoping that one of them is going to hit the nail on the head. Lucky for me, the humour in First Bite was perfectly balanced and despite a few rough patches, and first-book-syndrome issues, I had a great time reading this book!
Neva, our heroine, is a strong-willed character, she's compassionate and has a strong sense of right and wrong - sometimes to the point of being stubborn. I immensely liked her, simply put. She didn't have any qualms about doing what needed to be done, and went about them smartly, with planning. Also, she didn't just lose all will when Travis showed up; didn't suddenly become helpless and rely on him for everything. I loved that.
Travis, despite his small bit of tortured-backstory, is probably one of the more well-rounded male leads in paranormal these days. That backstory does come back to beat him over the heart more than a few times in the book, but it's not a constant barrage of abuse he heaps on himself. Perhaps he's trying to atone for that history, but he's incredibly kind and simply dogged (pun not intended). Often, when Neva didn't want to trust him, he'd simply follow her until she was too exhausted to do anything but let him help. I liked how he was low-key about solving things, rarely pushy or demanding, but smart and patient.
There's a lot going on in this world. Though Changelings seem to be the only supernatural creature, magic does exist and it plays a large role. It seems nearly anything can be done with magic, and our villain does each one of those things. Meredith is a bit over-the-top, to the point of madly cackling with glee over our heroes misfortune and mistakes. I do think she's meant to be portrayed this way so it didn't bother me too much, but she could have as easily fallen into caricature.
I have to talk about the humour. I said earlier that it doesn't normally work for me in novels - it feels too forced or something. I hate the humor in the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. I was bored and rolling my eyes at the humor in Molly Harper's books about being naked with werewolves. Here, however, was refreshingly different. It felt more subtle, more natural to the characters, less imposed on them. There wasn't a laugh every page, but I found myself grinning, chuckling and even re-reading certain things that made me laugh. It was what kept me reading during the slower beginning.
The pacing issues are my main issue I had while going through this book. It seemed like there were too many wayward plot threads, too much going on. There were some threads that didn't really seem to come together until about two-thirds of the way into the book - and then I was invested in all of them and could not put it down! But until then, I was a little bored with some of the side threads and a lot of the story seemed to have pacing issues. Of course this could be simply because I wanted more Neva and Travis, whom I really enjoyed.
I believe that the next book, Ties That Bind (due July 2014), is going to continue telling Neva and Travis' story so I think the multiple storylines now makes more sense. And with some of the decisions made at the end, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more in the series.