Called By Blood
by Evie Byrne, paranormal (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-244-2


Oh, I have to laugh after reading Evie Byrne's Called By Blood. Yes, it does contain many of the now-familiar clichés of paranormal romances: vaguely described "bond" that authors love to use as shortcuts to show that the characters are meant to be together, vampires bent on shagging snagging a mate, and all the stuff that comes with these two thingies. But the way Ms Byrne treats these matters in this story are best described as a reverse of everything Kresley Cole does in her series: Ms Byrne's take is more playful, often with her cheek against her tongue, and she makes me laugh in the process.

Ms Byrne doesn't invalidate these tropes, mind you, it's just that she lets me know when things are being ridiculous and invites me to laugh with her at her silly characters in the process. This makes the story so much more enjoyable as a result. If Ms Byrne has treated this story in a sober manner, Called By Blood would be too ridiculous indeed.

When the story opens, Alexander Faustin travels to meet his wife-to-be. His mother hands over the paper with Wife Dearest's name and he's all eager to meet this woman. The moment he reaches her doorstep and she shows up, Alex is so overwhelmed by his randy libido that he grabs and kisses her like every respectable so-called alpha male would. Helena MacAllister - who has certainly not been told that she is to be married, much less to be married to a vampire - responds by kneeing him in the groin and calling in the cops to haul the nutcase away.

Maybe it's something in his saliva, who knows, but Helen is soon thinking too much about Alex's hot looks for her own good. Her stalker is not giving up anytime soon, and she tries to remember that serial killers like Ted Bundy were gorgeous too, but she has to admit, his persistent attention is almost... flattering. Do you think Helena's common sense will hold out for long?

The premise is definitely one for fans of alpha male fantasies, because Alex doesn't just require Helena as his mate, he also requires her to become a vampire. In other words, the woman has to give up all she knows and has up to that point for the man's possessive kind of love. However, Helena doesn't blindly submit to the rules, and the fun here is how she manages to put Alex in his place so that he will know where she wants to stand in their relationship, without compromising too much of Alex's alpha male nature. As for Alex, he could have been another stereotype but fortunately, the way he reacts to Helena reveals some unexpectedly different side of him.

And best of all, this story is naughty and funny at the same time. I have plenty of fun laughing with these two people. Alex is so cute when he is befuddled by Helena, especially when she calls the cops on him, heh, while Helena manages to hold her own very well against her persistent vampire stalker/boyfriend. The whole story comes off as funny instead of creepy or disturbing, and this is good.

Evie Byrne is still a pretty new author, but I'm liking what I have read from her so far. As for Called By Blood, if you enjoy humorous yet sexy tongue-in-cheek romantic urban fantasy stories by authors like Stacia Kane and Shelley Laurenston, I have a hunch that you may like this one too.

Rating: 87


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