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Review: Bound by Night by Amanda Ashley

Dear Ms. Ashley.

I have no idea where to start with this review. My reactions to this book ranged from glee to boredom. The heroine is a personality-free wimp. The hero is an ass. The story brings nothing new to the table and reads like fanfiction. And yet every time I told myself I would not continue reading this book…I read more pages.

Bound by Night Amanda AshleyBound by Night is about the romance between human Elena and vampire Drake. Elena is a young twenty-year old orphan living in Transylvania with her uncle. Her uncle wants to marry her, but Elena wants nothing to do with him. One night when her uncle pushes his attentions on her and kisses her, Elena knows she must run away. She runs to nearby Wolfram Castle. It’s rumored to be haunted. As soon as she gets into Wolfram Castle, she lays down on a couch in the foyer and goes to sleep. The owner of the castle, Drake, sees her there asleep and must have her. He grabs her and puts her to bed. In his bed. After he undresses her so she can be comfortable of course.

Drake continued up the stairs and into the lord’s chamber. After removing her T-shirt, khaki shorts, and shoes, he tucked her under the thick blankets in the big four-poster bed.

Then, because he is hungry, he feeds on her while she is unconscious. I had a very big problem with this, as this is not hero-like behavior.

The next day, Elena wakes up and finds herself unclothed in a stranger’s bed, and her reaction is not to call the police, but to wander about the castle, curious about her new surroundings and her new friend Drake. Their attraction continues to grow, and the story spirals out from there.

I have a long, long list of problems with Elena, the heroine. In short – she is clueless. Even though she lives in Transylvania, it takes her forever to actually figure out that Drake is a vampire. He doesn’t eat meals with her. He only shows up after sundown. He wears a cloak and is very pale. She sees his eyes have a red gleam every now and then. He lives alone in an ancient castle rumored to be haunted. When she cuts her finger, he sucks the blood from it. He has no mirrors in his house. She comes across a coffin in a secret room.  After all this, she still doesn’t put together that he’s a vampire until she catches him sucking blood from someone’s neck. Then, she is horrified and surprised. Meanwhile, I’m horrified that this clueless woman is our heroine.

Elena also reads like someone out of a bad fanfiction (which might not be too far off the mark, given a quick perusal of the author’s website). She is a virgin who has no friends in town. She has a molesting uncle. She’s a good girl who has never had sex, doesn’t own a phone, doesn’t go to college, and doesn’t do anything but exist to be a foil for the hero. Her reactions – and her thoughts – are so bizarrely anachronistic for a modern twenty year old that for a time, I thought I was reading a historical paranormal and a find/replace had been done to change ‘trousers’ to ‘jeans’ every now and then. Elena acts and thinks like a prudish Victorian spinster. Her thoughts on sex as a modern twenty year old is that it is something wives suffer for their husbands. This does not strike me as a twenty year old mentality.

The longer the story goes on, the more Elena remains a victim. Another vampire brutalizes her and she has to be saved from him.  She also has to be saved from her uncle. Drake is the one that saves her every time, and Drake is the one with purpose in this story. Which is a shame, because he’s an ass. Not too far into the book, they decide to marry to save Elena from her uncle. Elena doesn’t want to have sex, so Drake promises her that they won’t until she is ready. Then, a day or two later, he decides that they should have sex to ensure the marriage is not annulled by other vampires. He is certain she’ll object to this, but doesn’t care:

He considered waiting until she was asleep, then hypnotizing her so that she would give him the answer he wanted. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but if it did, so be it. He would do whatever was necessary.

The man’s an ass. He also thinks of Elena in insulting, dismissive terms.

He had thought to gentle her to his will as one might gentle a filly who had not yet learned the touch of her master’s hand.

Take note, romance heroines. If you are reluctant to have sex with an aloof, mysterious man you just discovered was a vampire, it’s not that you have common sense or are not attracted to him. It’s that you just haven’t yet learned the touch of your master’s hand and need to be gentled.

His high handed and sometimes callous treatment of Elena did not endear me to him. Nor do we get to see how he treats her wonderfully in bed, because all of the sex scenes are a paragraph long at most. Even for all of this, the first half of the book moves at a fast pace and I found myself reading to see what would bizarre thing would happen next.  The second half, however, becomes murky with vampire politics and I found myself growing bored. If the first half of the book was head-scratchingly fascinating, the second half was simply bland vampire filler and domesticity between Elena and Drake.

I have no idea what to give this book. I didn’t hate it, but I’m puzzled by it and the unlikeable characters. I think I’m going to go a little higher than a D, simply because of this line:

“This man’s kiss was nothing like her uncle’s.”

You cannot imagine the enjoyment I got out of reading that. C-

All best,

January

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January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.

28 Comments

  1. Naomi
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 08:28:00

    I really thought this was a historical until the khaki shorts quote. I’m torn between reading it out of morbid curiosity and not reading it through a sense of self-preservation.

    ReplyReply

  2. Fionn Jameson
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 09:31:41

    What an effing trainwreck. I saw this in the bookstores and was kind of tempted to get it. Thanks for keeping this one from hitting my bedroom wall, January.

    ReplyReply

  3. Lori S.
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 09:42:36

    “This man’s kiss was nothing like her uncle’s.”

    Dracula + Deliverance = WTF?

    ReplyReply

  4. Jayne
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 09:44:32

    1 – I hate the cover. No, loathe would be a better word. It makes it look like a scene where he’s “gentling” her. Also he looks like he’s about 17 years old to her 16.

    2 – I can’t express how much I dislike a heroine being compared to a horse.

    ReplyReply

  5. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 10:36:27

    @Fionn Jameson

    I read to save others from awfulness. You’re welcome.

    ReplyReply

  6. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 10:38:17

    @Lori S.

    Is it strange if I complain that I’m tired of the raping uncle storyline? I feel as if this is a storyline that should be banished.

    ReplyReply

  7. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 10:39:58

    @Naomi

    That is because it read like a historical, with the occasional, jarring reference to a modern thing (such as an iPod). If you are reading for the trainwreck factor, the first hundred pages is amusing. After that, it simply becomes dull.

    ReplyReply

  8. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 10:41:16

    @Jayne The cover did not bother me, but I am with you – I dislike the thought of the heroine needing to be tamed to submit. No thank you.

    ReplyReply

  9. Kim
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 11:32:26

    The ways in which you describe the heroine as clueless is a riot. You mean by the time she got to the coffin she still didn’t have a clue that she might be involved with a vampire? It almost sounds like it ahould have been written as a parody of vampire lore.

    ReplyReply

  10. Sue T
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:00:45

    Ugh. Alpha hero does not equal jerk in the case of Drake feeding on her. And what was the point of that then? Did it even come up? Did she get changed? And, in this day, someone not knowing what a vampire is, is just ridiculous. I’ve actually enjoyed her books before. This is one I will not be picking up.

    ReplyReply

  11. joanne
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:05:33

    I’ve tried and tried but the Amanda Ashley paranormals are almost always a miss for me. I keep trying because when she writes under her Ashley Gardner persona I just love her historical mystery books. The women she writes about in those books are smart and strong-willed and independent.
    As soon as she gets into Wolfram Castle, she lays down on a couch in the foyer and goes to sleep.
    Really? I could just slap her silly.

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  12. Sunita
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:16:58

    @joanne: You’re thinking of Jennifer Ashley, who writes mysteries as Ashley Gardner. This author’s other pen name is Madeline Baker.

    January, this is hilarious. I’m almost tempted to pick it up just to see the trainwreck up close. Almost.

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  13. joanne
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:25:57

    @Sunita: I am! Ah well, another brain cell that has gone a wandering. Thanks.

    ReplyReply

  14. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:38:43

    @Kim:
    No, if I recall correctly, she found the coffin in a secret room and thought that it was for her, and not him. He told her she had nothing to worry about. She then asked him if he was sick. Not my first thought when I run across a coffin in someone’s house.

    ReplyReply

  15. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:51:27

    @Sue T:
    I don’t want to spoil the story about whether she is changed or not, but I will say that is not the only time that he feeds on her against her will. It was not endearing.

    ReplyReply

  16. Melodie
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:51:58

    Interesting cover. He looks frustrated that his RealDoll keeps falling over when he’s trying to pose her to shoot the cover of his self-published book of emo-vampire poetry.

    ReplyReply

  17. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:52:36

    @Sunita: I purchased it because I heard it was a good book that took a traditional twist on vampires and made it fresh again. I think I have a different perspective on ‘fresh’ now.

    ReplyReply

  18. Amy
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 13:27:59

    Loved the review! Saved me the trouble of throwing that book against the wall.

    ReplyReply

  19. Sirius
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 13:52:12

    Based on the review I have no desire whatsoever to pick up this book, but I am curious about one point of the review. I am sure heroine does behave in the completely clueless manner, but does the fact that she cannot figure out that the guy is a vampire points to that as well? What I am trying to say that unless the world is fantasy world and heroine is aware of it, why would she think that vampires are real no matter how obvious clues are? Am I making sense? Like if I had seen all those clues, I would have expecting my brain to fight it off because I know that vampires do not exist and I do not want to believe that they do?

    Thanks :)

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  20. DS
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 14:26:48

    @Jayne: Agreed. Loath the cover also. Actually the first version of it I saw was smallish and it looked like he was dragging her through a foggy field by her hair.

    ReplyReply

  21. Jane
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 14:30:18

    @joanne Wait, this is Jennifer Ashley? No way!

    ReplyReply

  22. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 14:54:21

    @Jane I believe Amanda Ashley’s other pseudonym is Madeline Baker.

    ReplyReply

  23. joanne
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 15:31:47

    @Jane: Exactly: no way. I was corrected by Sunita and very glad too.

    ReplyReply

  24. DA_January
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 16:01:53

    @Sirius – if the heroine had the thought occur to her and simply denied it because it was absurd, I would have agreed. The fact that it never crossed her mind was beyond the realm of believability for me, given where she lived and all the obvious clues left for her.

    ReplyReply

  25. Sirius
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 16:52:08

    @DA_January: Oh. Oh the thought did not enter her brilliant mind at all? Thank you, never mind than :)

    ReplyReply

  26. Jane
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 18:08:51

    @joanne It was possible. She writes under a lot of psuedonyms. I always associate Baker with NA romances. Am I remembering that wrong?

    ReplyReply

  27. Sunita
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 23:52:07

    @Jane: Nope, you’re absolutely right.

    ReplyReply

  28. Jeannie
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:28:35

    Not only could I not read this book, I have a really hard time understanding how someone could write it. How does the subject matter not squick you out as you’re putting it on the page? A 20yo heroine for starters…No! Way too young for most readers to identify with let alone take seriously. Then the way the “hero” treats her? Come on, this is Ms. Ashley’s idea of romantic? I don’t get it.

    ReplyReply

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