Tainted Blood - Sam C. Leonhard I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. Since I don't read blurbs I was expecting something different but what I got was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Gabriel Jordan is a homeless man who occasionally acts as a freelance photographer for a private investigator. When he's tasked with getting evidence of an affair, Gabriel accidentally sees Dr. Aleksei Tennant breaking into and out of the apartment of the woman he's watching. When Aleksei notices Gabriel, he uses his extensive knowledge of runes to make Gabriel forget him. Only problem is Gabriel seems to fight the runes. What happens next is spawned by Aleksei's fascination with Gabriel and brings Gabriel into multiple worlds of murder, deceit and a whole heap of danger.

I loved these characters. Gabriel has wolf shifter blood in him but he can't shift which made for some definitely interesting reading considering he still has heightened wolf senses. I found it strangely cute how Gabriel talked to himself so much. It was just too adorable since Aleksei tended to overhear what Gabriel was saying. I laughed a few times because of it. Aleksei was a surprise. He seems so harmless but he's really quite dangerous and mysterious. He teaches Gabriel about runes and how to use them properly but the whole time he's still keeping secrets from Gabriel. I loved the connection between these two. It seems one-sided most of the time but becomes obvious later it's not. The sexual tension between Aleksei and Gabriel was so thick and I loved seeing Gabriel's reaction to it and to Aleksei.

The story is quite fascinating. Learning about runes and the different worlds there are and how Gabriel and Aleksei connect to all of them was quite interesting. The mystery made the story suspenseful and adventurous. I know I was hanging on the edge of my seat once or twice anticipating what would happen next. The tension between Gabriel and Aleksei had me enjoying the parts not related to the mystery but more than that Gabriel AND Aleksei are enigmas. I was so curious to figure out what they both were and how they related to this new and captivating world.

The book is very engaging, one I wanted to devour but I did have a few problems with it. At times, I wanted to smack Gabriel because he was being stupid either jumping to conclusions over Aleksei or doing something he shouldn't have been doing. Also, the story is pretty much left on a cliffhanger which kind of irked me because part of the epilogue sets up the sequel. There are also a few questions I had regarding Gabriel like what kind of creature is in his mysterious blood but I'm guessing we learn that in the sequel. I will say that the epilogue (or most of it) was very, very satisfying. I'm happy with where it headed and how they ended up. I was a bit worried there but glad I was worrying for nothing!

All in all, I really enjoyed this story. I was surprised by how much I was drawn into the book not just because of the characters but the mystery and the world itself. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the sequel.