Blood Feud
by Alyxandra Harvey, fantasy (2010)
Bloomsbury, $9.99, ISBN 978-0-8027-2096-2


Blood Feud follows My Love Lies Bleeding (or Hearts At Stake in the USA) as they are both part of Alyxandra Harvey's The Drake Chronicles series. However, plot isn't the strongest element in these books and both books feature different couples. Therefore, it is pretty easy, I believe, to read Blood Feud as a standalone book. I will try to avoid giving spoilers to the previous book in this review.

Anyway, where we left off, Isabeau St Croix, our heroine, led a few of her fellow Cwn Mamau to gatecrash Lady Natasha's party in the last book. The Cwn Mamau, known as the Hounds to other vampire clans, have temporarily allied with the Drakes to take down their mutual enemy, Leander Montmatre. When Blood Feud opens, Solange Drake has been rescued and she has turned into a vampire safely, and her best friend Lucy Hamilton and Solange's brother Nicholas are dating.

But there are loose ends to look into. Montmatre is still pursuing Solange, and this time around, he and his right-hand man Phillip Marshall are bringing out Montmatre's personal army, the berserk and very nasty vampires called the Hel-Blar, to finish off their enemies and capture Solange. Isabeau is more than ready to stand and fight, especially when she nurses cold vengeance for Phillip, known to her back in the late 18th century as the Earl of Greyhaven. It was he who murdered her and then left to die; only, she didn't die but remain buried "alive" in her coffin for 200 years, in a condition of perpetual thirst and with only the silent worms moving over her unmoving body for company. Can you blame a bloodthirsty warrior princess for harboring a grudge?

Therefore, while Isabeau is technically 232 years old, she actually "came back to life", so to speak, in 1995, when her Cwn Mamau leader and eventual mentor sensed her presence and summoned the dogs to dig her out of her grave. She is, therefore, understandably still a teenager in many ways. She certainly isn't invulnerable to the charms of the easy-going Logan, one of Solange's many brothers. Logan prefers to wear clothes from Isabeau's era and he sometimes behaves more like an easy-going dandy than a warrior, but he certainly is able to kick rear ends when he's called to do so.

The romance between the supposedly ice-cold Hound Princess and the easy-going hunk is interesting, but Blood Feud is actually more of Isabeau's story than a romance. Isabeau gets flashback scenes to her past as a young girl, when she lost her parents to the guillotine. She spent a few years on the streets of France, fending for herself and even making a few unlikely friends, before she finally found her way to her uncle in London. Of course, in London is where she eventually became the victim of Greyhaven. Her romance with Logan is muted compared to Lucy and Nicholas's relationship in the previous book. Oh, they do like each other, but Logan falls for Isabeau at first sight and she he, and given the short time span they know each other in this book, one would have to assume that their romance is indeed written in the stars.

To Ms Harvey's credit, Isabeau and Logan do have some moments where they share some laughter and they seem to genuinely like each other. But the focus is definitely more on Isabeau, from her past to her current relationships with the people she meets. Logan is more of a beta male to her alpha princess. Indeed, I am amused at how many times Logan tries to protect Isabeau, only to come short of doing that as Isabeau often manages to do well without his help.

Strangely enough, Ms Harvey doesn't allow Isabeau to gain her vengeance. Instead, it is the unlikely Solange who gets to shine as the person who saves the day in the penultimate moment in this book, and as usual, Helena Drake is the coolest kick-ass lady in the northern hemisphere.

Simply put, Blood Feud is an enjoyable book in itself, but it is very different in many ways from My Love Lies Bleeding. This is not as funny as the previous book and it is a more heroine-centric story. The pacing is fine and the narrative is engaging, with moments of action balanced nicely by the quiet but effective chemistry between Logan and Isabeau. Therefore, if you want to enjoy this book, it is best not to compare this book to the previous book too much. They may belong to the same series, but this one is darker, more sober, and in the case of Isabeau's back story, more mature and even heartbreaking. Indeed, a part of me will always believe that Isabeau deserves a more epic dramatic tale instead of this frivolous if amusing story that she is stuck in.

Rating: 85


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