Tag Archives: vampire romance

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Book Review: Bloodlaced, by Courtney Maguire

Blood Bound, book three of Courtney Maguire‘s Youkai Bloodlines, was over on Sadie‘s Spotlight earlier in the year. So, when I stumbled across a copy of Bloodlaced (book one), I opted to start the series.

Kanjin hardly view their servants as human. Even less so when they are different.

Asagi is different. Both a man and a woman.

In the wake of his failure to protect a boy he saw as a son from their abusive master, Asagi is sold into the house of a young nobleman, Mahiro, who is the opposite of everything Asagi has ever known—gentle, kind, and generous.

Mahiro bonds with Asagi and their friendship blooms into a deep and profound love. But when Asagi is poisoned out of jealousy, Mahiro reveals himself to be youkai, a demon who feeds on blood, and he has no choice but to turn Asagi to save his life.

Asagi awakes reborn, strong, and eternally youthful. But the price for Asagi’s new life is high.

The blood of the innocent.

Just as Asagi’s trust in Mahiro falters, the boy he failed to protect, now a man, reappears.

New master, same threat.

With both a literal and proverbial monster at the door, Asagi must decide what it means to be human to protect what he loves most.

my review

Oh man, this book was a rollercoaster for me. I took one look at the cover and the fact that it’s about vampires in ancient Japan (to use a western for them) and thought, “I am in!” I expected to love it. Then, I hated the first 25%. It’s basically trauma porn. Granted, the abuse is off-page, but it’s very clear what is happening, and the main character martyred themself more than once. So, I thought, “Oh, this isn’t for me, after all.”

Then, things balanced out, and I got a little bored. Then, at the 50% mark, the plot shifted, and I was interested again. Then, the romance (and the whole plot, really) went off in a direction I didn’t expect, and I was uncertain but invested. And THEN, I cried at the end before being given a little ray of hope on the last page. Rollercoaster of emotion!

As I said, I’m not into victimized hero(ine) plotlines. I’m not saying it’s bad in any objective way; I just don’t enjoy reading it. I did get a bit bored in the middle; the pacing is a bit off. And I have to admit that I’ve never really understood why, when a book is supposed to be happening somewhere that speaks another language (Japanese in this case), authors sometimes still throw the occasional that-language word into the English narrative, usually as expletives. It always stands out to me, breaking the flow. But overall, I will be looking forward to continuing the series.

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Other Reviews:

Review: Bloodlaced (Youkai Bloodlines #1) by Courtney Maguire

Book Review: Bloodlaced (Youkai Bloodlines Book 1) by Courtney Maguire

 

 

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Book Review: Club Blood, by Sarah James & Cassandra Celia

I accepted an ARC review copy of Club Blood (by Sarah James and Cassandra Celia)  through Pride Book Tours.

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Sin City just got extra bloodthirsty… Welcome to Club Blood.

Vampires no longer hide in the shadows and humans have adjusted, learning to coexist with the Known. But in a city filled with sinful acts and lustful affairs, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to happen.

Cecelia agrees to visit Ambrosia, a notorious nightclub run by vampires, on the night of her birthday. But as Cece stumbles across the murder of one of the Known’s most feared council leaders, she is thrown into terrible danger.

For Mercy, being at the top and conquering her kingdom has always been above all else. It doesn’t bother her when she has to rip the heart out of her boss in order to get what she wants, though she does find it inconvenient that there’s a human witness.

Mercy and her coven hold Cece captive in order to secure Mercy’s quest to reign. Soon, Cece finds it hard to separate fear and attraction, being drawn to the enticing danger of Mercy’s life, and Mercy discovers that there might be just one person she’s willing to protect more than herself.

Just being together is enough to upend both of their lives, hurling them towards a war neither of them ever wanted to start.

Mercy must decide whether having Cece could be worth losing her kingdom, and Cece must endeavor to survive in a world of danger and darkness that was designed to kill her.

Their lust might be worth the bloodshed.

my review

I’ve got to admit. I didn’t resonate with this book. The writing is quite readable, and even though I had an ARC, the editing felt competent. So, any complaints I have are really just of the how well the book did or didn’t gel with me sort. And I’m afraid I leaned more toward didn’t.

I liked the idea of the book. A female vampire, fighting the patriarchal vampire culture to rise to the top of her bloody and cut throat career/society. And I appreciate that James and Celia were playing with gender tropes a little bit. But I also felt the plot and characters was super cliched. I’m afraid making it an F/F romance, but keeping all of the characteristics of a M/F romance isn’t transgressive. It’s lazy.

[Spoiler] Here we had the villainous jealous ex. The jealous ex that is contrasted against the innocent love interest by her aggressively sexual presentation (in her clothing, attitudes, and actions). How many times have readers seen this same thing? Too many. There’s both the sassy (and promiscuous) BFF who tempts the pure main character to leave her safe bounds. Her promiscuity gets her killed, BTW. We’ve seen this a million times too. Then she’s replaced with the sassy gay BFF. This one is male, but still a character we’ve all seen in just this character position many times before. Let’s just stop there. But I could go on. The big shark who smiles to Mercy’s face but really duplicitously seeks to re-subjugate the woman who dared leave her subservient place? Yep, not new or interesting.

Really the cliched characters were more than I could handle. But the real reason this didn’t resonate was that it was inconsistent. Mercy is said to be so merciless, but if that was true she never would have let the events of the book go as far as they did without solving (or even acknowledging) the problem. Her very actions undermined the primary characteristic we’re given for her. Further, the whole reason she breaks character club blood photo(separately than the preceding point) to keep and eventually fall for Cece is a mystery. I mean it’s a mystery in the book. So, again, her supposed ruthlessness is undermined by her actions. Then there is Cece. She has a convenient personality shift that allowed for the happy ending. But it didn’t feel believable. It was too abrupt.

All in all. I had complaints. Several of them. But they are things that bother me. They don’t bother a lot of other people. I suggest reading the book and deciding for yourself.


Other Reviews:

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Book Review: Between Bloode and Stone, by Marie Harte

I picked up a freebie copy of Marie Harte‘s Between Bloode and Stone in December of last year. It randomly bubbled up to the top of my TBR recently and I gave it a read.
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There is nothing so dangerous as a predator who loves…

Cursed long ago to check their growing power, vampires can only coexist in small groups. Yet despite their many conflicts, those Of the Bloode possess similar traits. All vampires, no matter where they came from, are male. They can go unnoticed by humans unless they wish otherwise, and they can’t survive sunlight.

Mormo, servant of the goddess Hecate, has created a small, new bloode clan at her behest. The six vampires he commands are rough, ill-disciplined, and mean, and they fail to follow orders on a daily basis. But they’re needed. Something big and bad is coming. Hecate, goddess of death, magic, and gateways, has a duty to guard the borders of the mortal world. She knows that without a strong force to contain the threat, chaos will come, destroying everything in its wake.

Hecate’s secret weapons are those Of the Bloode—vampires. Though they refuse to worship anything but themselves, she loves their wild ways. In order to battle gods and monsters and survive, they’ll need ferocity, inner strength, and something to fight for. Because there is nothing so dangerous as a predator who loves, and those Of the Bloode protect what’s theirs at all costs, in undeath and beyond.

And Varujan of the Night Bloode has just found the one female he can’t do without…

my review
This is one of those books that just isn’t quite bad enough to totally pan, but also isn’t anywhere near good enough to praise. The writing is readable, but not particularly impressive. The plot is thin, but manages to stay stitched together. The characters are colorful, but not particularly well fleshed out. The romance ends in a HEA, but you don’t particularly feel it develop.The world exists, but only in so much as is actually necessary for each scene (no sense of a bigger world), etc. It’s not bad. It’s just not good either.

I liked Fara and her determination to save her self and her brother. I liked the brother a lot, actually, and the other side characters were a hoot. However, Varujan was just a jerk for far too long for me to come around and like him by the end. I also thought the villain was cartoonish and defeated far too easily in a rush at the end.

All in all, I might read the next book if I found it free. But I probably wouldn’t buy it.

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Other Reviews:

La Crimson Femme: Book Review ; Between Bloode and Stone

Between Bloode and Stone by Marie Harte-a review