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Larissa Ione

REVIEW:  Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

REVIEW: Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

Bound-by-Night

Dear Ms. Ione:

I’ve been on a contemporary romance kick for a good long time now, and felt like maybe it was time to switch it up. I remember enjoying your first few Demonica books, so when Bound by Night and your new release, Chained by Night were offered to Dear Author, I decided to request them.

A WOMAN OUT FOR BLOOD
Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rose up in rebellion and killed her family. Now she devotes her life to finding a vaccine against vampirism, hoping to wipe out her memories—along with every bloodsucker on the planet. But there’s one thing she cannot destroy: her searing, undeniable attraction for the one man she should hate and fear the most . . .

A VAMPIRE OUT FOR REVENGE
A member of the renegade vampire MoonBound Clan, Riker is haunted by demons of his own. When he recognizes Nicole and remembers how her family enslaved his loved ones, his heart burns for vengeance. But when he kidnaps Nicole and holds her in a secret lair, his mortal enemy becomes his soul obsession, his greatest temptation, and, perhaps, his only salvation—a hot-blooded lover who could heal him with her touch . . . or bury him forever.

As a child, Nicole Martin lived in the ostentation of a wealthy family, having multiple vampire slaves, including her beloved nanny, Terese, who nurtured and loved Nicole as her negligent, if not downright unloving parents did not. One day, the vampire slaves rose up against her family and killed them, and Nicole was attacked by Boris, a vampire in the household. He’d been defanged, so his attack on Nicole had been brutal and painful. Nicole survived the attack and was sent to live with her aunt in Paris. Leaving her father’s company, a conglomerate that neutralizes vampires and sells them as slaves to others. Nicole is happy living in Paris, where she is a vampire psyshiologist, studying their bodies and medications that might slow or negate the infection that causes vampirism. However, when she is 28, her father’s will kicks in and forces her to return to the Pacific Northwest to take control of the company. Her half brother, Charles, has been running the company in her absence. While Nicole has reluctantly taken control of the company, she has plans for it. She wants it to stop purveying vampires and focus on the medical side of their work. This decision is unpopular with the board of directors, and Nicole is in jeopardy of being voted out of control all together.

Riker, the second in command of the MoonBound clan, a group of free vampires who hate all things human, has a tremendous grudge against the Martin family. His mate was Terese, Nicole’s nanny, who was killed by the Martin family while pregnant with his child. He’s vowed revenge and is determined he’ll have it. His opportunity comes after a special healer that MoonBound had borrowed from the ShadowDwellers, another vampire clan, is kidnapped while  being provided safe passage back to her clan. The ShadowDwellers blame MoonBound and are threatening war, if they do not get their healer back. MoonBound has intel that the Martin family’s company has the healer. Riker sees this as his perfect opportunity to take something from the Martin family. He’ll kidnap Nicole and exchange her for the healer.

All goes according to his plan until Nicole escapes him and is almost taken by the ShadowDweller warriors. Riker is injured in the process and Nicole saves him. They begin a cautious partnership. Riker returns Nicole to his clan’s lair to decide what the next steps should be in getting the healer back. Nicole contacts her brother and finds that her company has been conducting some horrifying breeding programs on vampires and that he was the one who authorized the kidnap of the healer. Nicole determines that she must go to the lab with Riker to rescue the healer. Riker can’t believe that she’s willing to risk herself like that. The more he gets to know Nicole, the more attracted he is. She’s nothing like he expected. She’d brave and brilliant, and all kinds of gorgeous. But how can he be attracted to a woman whose family destroyed his family and is now dedicated to taking away the freedom of his race? As their mission unfolds, and the more they learn about each other, their attraction grows. But how will they overcome their long history of wariness toward the other race and give in to the feelings they have for each other?

I quite enjoyed this book. While I felt that you had to spend a lot of time setting up the mythology of the series, it was relatively easy to follow. I liked Nicole very much. She has a ton of agency and while it’s clear that she is terrified, she is smart and willing to save herself. Riker frightens her to death, but she stands up to him and uses her prodigious smarts to get herself out of bind after bind. Riker was a bit harder for me to get a handle on. He’s got the “tortured vampire” thing going on, and a ton of rage. Plus he’s very hot and cold with Nicole, which I found a bit off putting. But when he finally warms up, he’s all in, which I appreciated. They do quite a bit of stomping off after harsh words, which I always find childish, and they left things unsaid time after time when they’d clash. I did feel like that fact detracted from their chemistry, which was a bit disappointing. The love scenes between them are as hot as I remember your love scenes being. The book sets up a number of other possible heroes, in particular Hunter, who is the hero of book two. The series has a great mythology, deep with Native American tradition, which I really liked. While I felt the book had its issues, I’m really excited to read book two. Bound by Night gets a recommendation from me, as not your usual vampire romance. Final grade: B

Kind regards,

Kati

 

 

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REVIEW:  Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

REVIEW: Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

Dear Ms. Ione:

I enjoyed the “Demonica” series and liked the spin-off “Lords of Deliverance” series even more, but this book, which debuts a new paranormal romance series set in a different alternate universe, just didn’t work for me. I’m having some troubling articulating why, but my biggest clue is that I’m having no desire whatsoever to return to this world or to follow any of these characters into future books.

boundEight year old Nicole knows something’s up. Normally a vampire servant (yes, vampire servants!) would keep his eyes humbly down, but not today: “This time, he looked at her the way her dad looked at the Thanksgiving turkey.” But no one listens to her, and just a little while later, most of Nicole’s family is dead and she is badly injured and severely traumatized.

Twenty years later, Nicole is a scientist at her family’s company, specializing in exploiting vampire physiology for human uses. But she’s aghast when, as the new CEO, she’s accused of ordering the death of numerous vampires — although she’s very frightened of them, the memory of her beloved vampire nanny (yes, her vampire nanny!) keeps her from seeing all vampires as vicious animals. When she’s kidnapped by a vampire named Riker, who needs her to order the release of one of her company’s test subjects, she begins to understand how wrong the human treatment of vampires really is. Also Riker? Really hot.

I think the aim was for something new and interesting here, but for me the mix was just so off. The elements that strive to be new — the worldbuilding — seem confused and ridiculous. There’s all kinds of complicated who-has-to-drink-what-kind-of-blood-when scenarios that made me tired.  The clan names — MoonBound and ShadowSpawn — have an incongruous, off-putting high fantasy sound to them. And enslaved, defanged vampires as nannies and butlers — seriously?  The blatant parallel to American slavery makes no sense whatsoever — though the use of the vampires for scientific experiments sadly does — and it’s presented in a squirm-inducing way. The racist who loved her nanny is such a well-known cliche — perhaps that was the point but if so, it didn’t come across, especially when late in the book Nicole then goes on to think about the enemy clan as “what amounted to a den of wild animals.” Yeah, some real consciousness raised there. There’s also a Native American connection to vampirism which made me uncomfortable. Again, possibly I missed the point, but it felt exploitative.

And then the elements that strive to be the usual enjoyable mixture — the basic characters and relationship — came off as a little stale. Dudes are cruel, violent, and kinda homophobic — until they inexplicably fall for a woman, and then they’re also protective and endlessly horny. Women are tough — especially on each other. I’m having trouble commenting on the relationship between Nicole and Riker because there just isn’t much to say about it. The sex is hot, there’s a bit of a twist caused by Riker’s guilt over his dead mate (the previously mentioned nanny — slightly icky, but that’s probably just me) and it did make my heart happily twinge a few times.  I’d say I mostly enjoyed the relationship — just not quite enough. I never got swept away with fast-paced excitement, which is really what this type of book is for.

In the end, what it all came down to is that neither the worldbuilding nor the romance were captivating enough for me to not be bothered by how intensely violent and upsetting much of the book is. (It’s the same thing that eventually happened to me with the show “TrueBlood” — and the comparison is an apt one.) Other issues aside, there’s a lot of gore, torture, and general awfulness.  I really needed to be swept away to make it worthwhile.

I wish I were sharing this review with another reviewer, because I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job of conveying what other readers might like about the story.  I’m sure there’s an audience for it, and honestly, because of how much I got into other Ione books, I’m surprised and disappointed that it isn’t me. But it isn’t.  C -.

Sincerely,

Willaful

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