by Evie Byrne, paranormal (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-757-7
Wow, that is one scary nipple on the cover. Has there been some kind of accident?
Evie Byrne continues to subvert the whole "mate, destiny, sex" thing with her latest addition to the Faustin Brothers series, Damned By Blood. The premise feels awfully familiar and would otherwise grate on my nerves if dished up in an unoriginal manner, but Ms Byrne cheerfully takes these familiar tropes and spin them around on their precious little high heels.
Mikhail Ivanovitch is the serious one. He's the vampire boss of New York and the rest of East Coast, after all, and he's also going to make sure that his fellow vampires behave around humans who are not aware of their existence. He never considers that he will find a mate... until the story opens and his mother announces that she has finally received the name of his mate via her dreams and premonitions. Worse, his mate is supposed to be Alya Adad, the current vampire boss of the West Coast. Sure, he's attracted to her, she is his first love, they have a past, et cetera, but she's also his current enemy.
Meanwhile, it looks like some Minnoseta branch of the sparkling Cullen family is causing problems.
Alya said, "Where to begin? A consortium of crazy hicks from the North Woods has overthrown the city families - the decent vamps. These northern families have gone feral. They're drinking beast blood - moose, deer, beaver, heaven knows what. And worse, they're preaching that we should all eat that way."
Dominick made a face at the thought of it, but Maya, being human, shrugged. "And that's bad?"
"It's bad, trust me. They're leaving drained carcasses around for the authorities to find. That's causing talk. And you know how much we like talk. And the Faustins especially don't like talk."
Through a mouthful of food Maya said, "So he's just going to take over the state because he doesn't like their dietary choices? What a fascist."
Alya shrugged. The Faustins definitely had fascist tendencies, but in this case she understood. "I don't blame him. If they've sunk to eating animals, they're obviously not going to care about keeping up appearances. And if the rest of the families could be thrown over by these lunatics, they're incapable of defending their own territory. It's easier just to take over."
With Mikhail in Minnesota, then New York is ripe for Alya's hostile takeover! Alas, Alya's careful plans to seize New York for her own come to naught when Mikhail starts coming around looking for a merging with her.
My favorite part of this story is "Cocksucking Minnesotans!" Or maybe it's the hilarious premise of the villains in this story being a bunch of people who would otherwise be cast as the good guys in other stories. At any rate, this is certainly one of the more interesting vampire romances out there despite its mate-mate-mate premise. Also, the heroine is a pretty tough type, reminiscent of Shelly Laurenston's usual brand of kick-ass heroines.
However, I feel that the story loses much of its initial momentum by having to focus on Mikhail and Alya going at each other like angry schoolkids for about fifty pages after the grand showdown with the twisted Cullens. I am not as invested in the relationship as I'd have liked, mainly due to the length constraints that prevent it from being as well fleshed out as I'd have liked, and as a result the last few chapters don't measure up compared to the more exciting and violent earlier moments of the story.
Damned By Blood is a pretty interesting read, but all things considered, perhaps it could use a few dozen more pages to beef up the story.
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