Dear Ms. Augustine,
Lately, I’ve been suffering from a problem that affects many paranormal romance fans: Sexy Vampire Fatigue. Yes, I’m kind of tired of sexy vampires. I miss the scary vampires. The blurb for your novella Bound for Trouble promised a sci-fi world in which vampires once brutally ruled humanity, but are now imprisoned and enslaved by humans, I wondered if, perchance, your vampires might be scary.
My hopes were rewarded. Your vampires are scary and your world-building is spare, but intriguing. I just wish the rest of Bound for Trouble had been as satisfying.
The heroine is Lucy George, a security specialist inspecting conditions in an underground vampire prison. When a prison break results in scads of the aforementioned scary vampires getting out, Lucy escapes with her life, only to be taken hostage by an escaping vampire named Gabriel.
Gabriel is, of course, not nearly as creepy or scary as those other vampires. He’s hot—so hot, in fact, that Lucy gets a little bothered by his hotness when she observes him all emaciated and starved in his cell.
The narration describes the imprisoned vampires in Gabriel’s section thusly:
Their hairless bodies were painfully gaunt, their bones pressing against a thin film of chapped and ashy skin. Fat, silver collars hung heavy around their necks. Most of their dull eyes were vacant, but a few shone with the glimmer of intelligence.
Okay. So far, no sexy. The narration goes on to describe Lucy’s reaction to Gabriel:
Though his body had atrophied from years of confinement and weak blood, Lucy could imagine how he must have appeared, judging by the lines of his musculature still visible beneath the shrunken flesh…Lucy caught herself wondering what his skin would feel like beneath her hands…She shivered and unconsciously wetted her lips as she traced the line of his torso down to his–
The thought of gaunt, emaciated prisoners arouses my pity, not my libido. Ab-tacularly hot, tattooed, unjustly incarcerated male prisoners doing one-armed pull ups in solitary? That scenario has potential, but the one quoted above just seemed wrong.
Shortly after the prison break, Gabriel holes up in a motel. Lucy tries to escape. Gabriel ties her to the bed. The next day, after Gabriel unties Lucy, and faster than you can say Stockholm Syndrome, she helps him, hops into bed with him, and allows him to bite her.
The story is also told from Gabriel’s point of view, and he turns out to be the more relatable of the two. The scenes from his point of view establish that 1) he’s a pretty decent guy; 2) most vampires are not like him.
Gabriel’s motivations and actions make sense from his POV, but Lucy’s are a mystery, even when we see the action from her perspective. Perhaps if the story had illustrated the genesis and growth of Lucy’s emotional connection with Gabriel as well as it illustrated their physical connection, I might have found Lucy a more sympathetic—or, at least, a more interesting—heroine. As it is, she seems like something of a flake, and I had a hard time caring what happened to her.
It turned out just as well that I didn’t care too much one way or the other what happened to Lucy, because the story didn’t provide much closure. The ending doesn’t clarify Lucy and Gabriel’s relationship. It doesn’t resolve the danger they’re in. It doesn’t really do anything but set them up for the next stage of the story.
Bound for Trouble reads like Part I in a novel, not Book One in a series. If the hero and heroine’s emotional relationship had been more detailed, or if the heroine’s emotional arc had been stronger, I might be interested enough to read the next book. But as it stands, scary vampires, a decent hero, and intriguing world-building are not enough to lure me into future installments in this series.