This Same Earth: Elemental Mysteries Book 2

This Same Earth: Elemental Mysteries Book 2 - Elizabeth Hunter 3.5-4 starsThis series, like many in the paranormal genre, is tough to categorize and shelve. So don't hate me if you don't agree!"This Same Earth" is book 2 of 4 in the Elemental Mysteries series. It's a tough book in a number of ways:1. Slow Opening:The Prologue is a series of journal entries that Beatrice writes to Gio from his home in Cuchamo. At the end of book 1, Gio visited Beatrice's house in Los Angeles and left her plane tickets for the trip. We find out in the prologue that Gio repeats this from 2005 until 2009.Chapter One has us up to 2009, where Beatrice has still not seen Gio - it's been 5 years. But she's got her masters, bought a house (using the ill-gotten gains she pilfered from Lorenzo), has her dream job at the Huntington Library, and is very involved with a kind-hearted ex-Navy SCUBA-diving large Hawaiian man named Mano.It's like... WHAT? Beatrice has literally moved on. Which is great, except how the heck does that make this book 2 in the series? Where is Gio and why hasn't he been around?Takes awhile to get that answer. Gio thought that at 22, Beatrice was still too young and impulsive to make major life decisions, especially about loving him and becoming a vampire (immortal) to live with him as his forever love. He was also afraid that all B had been through with him might cause her infatuation to be based solely on the adventure and horror, rather than on any real love. Guess Gio thinks that at 27 with 5 years of distance between them, that B's more capable of deciding for herself. So it's a tough road back for Gio which makes this a S - L - O - W beginning. (Although I can't say I blame Beatrice for not jumping into his open arms right away!)Then, too, there's the connection that B still has to Carwyn and Tenzin. And the other changes that Beatrice (B) has made. B now rides a British Triumph motorcycle, although I'm not quite sure why; yes, it's easy to navigate SoCal freeways and such, but it seems a little out of character for B, even if she is a bit of a goth girl. I guess she's trying to be a "tough girl", because Tenzin suggested she start tai chi, which led to her taking up marital arts in various forms. B doesn't ever want to be weak and unable to defend herself like she feels she was when Lorenzo kidnapped her. Since B doesn't feel as if she can depend up on Gio, she's decided she doesn't want to depend upon anyone but herself. (That's always a dangerous philosophy.)2. New charactersThere are a lot of new characters in this book: Mano, Dez (Desiree) - B's new BFF, Ben - Gio's new "boy" rescued from the streets, Matt - B's next door neighbor and the realtor who helped her to buy her house (but he has connections to Gio, too), Pete - B's martial arts instructor, Danny - Mano's business partner in the SCUBA biz, Don Ernesto Alvarez - B's great-great-... grandfather (on her grandmother's side) who also happens to be *the* water vampire in charge of SoCal and the Baja/Western Mexico region, Baojia - "son" of Alvarez and water vampire who seems to have a thing for B, Carwyn's daughters Deirdre and Gemma (Gemma had a past fling with Gio and still has a major thing for him, even though she's engaged!), Gemma's fiancee and the water vampire in charge of London, Jean - the water vampire in charge of Marseilles, Tywyll - a very old water vampire who seems to know something about B's dad Stephen (may have even helped him avoid Lorenzo and Gio)... and ... even more folks!Such a large cast of characters to try to keep up with! It takes awhile for the story to focus in on THIS BOOK. Again - a slow start. Even when we're in the thick of things, sometimes the glut of new characters is almost overwhelming. I said *almost*, because there are definite reasons for the new characters, so they're not just there to look pretty. There's just a bit of a stop-and-start feel to this book, at times, due in part to the many new characters.3. Tough insightIt comes out in a fight that B has with Gio that every man she's loved has left her, including Gio. Wow!Then, there's poor Mano... I feel badly for Mano, who's really a very decent man who's very in love with Beatrice. Unfortunately, B loves Mano but not with the same all-encompassing passion that she's felt for Gio. So even though B is wary of Gio and afraid he'll leave her again, she can't seem to commit to Mano. Even Mano sees that Gio is a threat - even he sees the way that B and Gio look at one another. That doesn't stop my heart from breaking for Mano... and for B, when she realizes that it's only fair to let Mano go.An incident in Ireland with Carwyn's daughter, Deirdre is heartbreaking. And it makes B and Gio both really think about what their future can and should be. There's a tie to B's father, because Deirdre's husband, Ioan, was possibly taken because he'd been in touch with Stephen (B's dad) over the mysterious missing books and formula. Ioan is an old friend of Gio's, well known in the vampire community, and a healer to both vampires and humans alike. 4. The Vampire/Immortal worldSo, the secrets unfold sorta slow in this book, but they definitely unfold. A big part of what we see, hear, and learn is about Gio's world - the vampire world. There are a LOT of politics involved. And it seems as if B is quite naturally good at politics.This is a bit of a shocker. Not that B's not an intelligent, canny gal. It's just that until this book, we never really saw this aptitude of hers, so I found it surprising and maybe... I don't know - weird. Not completely out of character, but it seemed convenient, somehow. I wish that the author had alluded to this trait of B's in the first book somehow. Maybe she did, and I missed it. Very small nit, but something that bothered me a bit.Gio's fire element tends to make his temper flair, literally. B seems to have more savvy and be very good at the war of words and wit; all very good things for Gio and B. And this natural "gift" of hers will obviously play a very important role going forward.5. LorenzoYeah, he's a maddening, mad, megalomaniac freak of a Botticelli angel. And he's definitely BACK!It's bordering on breaking through the suspension of disbelief when he manages to kidnap B yet AGAIN. Really? But as I patiently continued reading (Tenzin would be proud of me!), I realized that the author didn't just pull a Round 2. There were definite reasons for the kidnapping - a definite purpose.6. Grandma, Casper, and BenThese three don't make much of an appearance in this book. Ben does at the beginning, but as the book goes on, he fades into the background, being cared for by Isadora and Casper.At times, I wondered what Ben's purpose was... but he's engaging, fun, comic-relief, and he helps Gio and B get back together.============There's a LOT tucked into this book! But it ultimately feels unified and seems to serve the characters and the developing/unfolding plot. We, the readers, learn a lot in this book about the vampire world. Not everything is shown - much is told; but I was OK with that, simply because, like B, we're being immersed in a very strange new world and sometimes you have to be told as well as shown the lay of the land.Anxious to get into book 3!