This book is like walking through a Mardi Gras festival; colourful, confusing and fantastical, laced with horror and throbbing with erotic promise.
It is worth noting that the book is written in the present tense, which puts the reader right in the heart of Beranek’s world from the get go.
The blurb assumes a lot when it says “when a member of the created family he’s focused on instead comes under threat from a mysterious illness, Ehrichto strikes a deal with his own sire, to return to the sire’s bed in exchange for his help.” I get that this is vampire-speak, but I was left thinking “huh?”
If it puts some people off, that would be a shame, because although the book isn’t that long, it is packed so full of beautiful details and lavish descriptions, it feels like an all-round sensory experience. The smell of blood and sun-tan oil, fresh bodies and sexual promise, all drip from the page. The author has built this incredible, colourful, savage world, filled with family drama, vampire politics, and sexual undertones. There isn’t a lot of actual sex, but despite that, it is a very erotically-charged book. Very clever and not easily accomplished.
An all-round sensory experience
There are a lot of characters, and a lot of different dynamics at play, so much so it seemed confusing at times. I’m still not sure what the relevance of Dorjan’s character is. I feel I have to read the book again to fully grasp all the delicate nuances. Again, this would delight some readers, but I wasn’t wholly gripped enough to do so. As a book reviewer, I don’t have time to read the same book twice. This is a shame, but it’s the author’s job to explain it through the story, not my job to rummage through the book until I finally get it.
Having said that, I believe there is scope for a series. There are some great personalities here, all of which are colourfully described and given their own distinctive voice. I loved Michael’s family, and the way the author dealt with his coming out, the confusion of his parents, his horrendous social-climbing mother. The setting of scenes is first class, and consistent throughout the book. I really wish I loved it more than I did, but the chaotic story-line was a little too distracting for my taste.
No doubt about it though. This is a clever and literary addition to the vampire genre.
I loved this story. On the surface, it is a very easy read. Gianne is a strong woman, a cancer survivor is just picking up her life after her illness, and the departure of a dickless boyfriend who was scared off by the serious nature of her diagnosis.
Then she meets Marc, part of the charismatic Stafford clan, and before you can say "raw vegan food evangelist" she is travelling across the country to Las Vegas, for three months of fitness training, diet, and will they/won't they dynamics. Cynics will roll their eyes at this point but if so, this book is not for you. Saved from TV movie sentimentality by the author's writing and ability to draw her characters, this is a warm-hearted cuddle of a book, but one with an edge. Maybe some will object to the raw foods message. I know a few found it heavy-handed, but I didn't. It was interesting, but didn't make me feel guilty about my burger and fries.
Marc has his own family issues (don't we all?) and they were dealt with very entertainingly. The guy is hot, hot, hot! Perhaps a little good to be true? Whatever, he was a real sweetheart, and I loved him and Gianne together. Gianne didn't take any crap, either. Yes, she decided to go to Las Vegas, but she was pragmatic, knowing she had to return, scared of commitment yet not averse to a little fun. I loved her. I want her and her friends as my friends. She was a girl to root for.
Equally, Marc's family were complicated, competitive, aspirational, each with their own resentments but held together by their mother, who was awesome. The book really came alive when the family were together. I know this is the first in the Stafford Family series, so it will be interesting to watch these stories develop!
Finally, cancer is a tough subject that can be excruciating if clumsily dealt with, but the writer has done a brilliant job. Gianne lives her life six months at a time, from all-clear to all-clear. All through the book, I was never sure which way it was going to go, and I needed to know. Now I do, the last thing I'm going to do is tell you. Read it yourself.
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