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REVIEW: Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity by Joey W. Hill

REVIEW: Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity by Joey W. Hill

Dear Ms. Hill,

I’m back. Remember me? I read Vampire Instinct a few weeks ago and while it was a nice read, it was just that. Nice. I like you when you’re crisp and edgy and take me to dark, weird places. So I picked up Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity and decided to give them a go. They both came out last year, but as soon as I found out that Vampire Mistress was the first of a two parter, I waited for the second one to come out. Reading Vampire Instinct reminded me to pick up the books, and I’m glad I did.

Vampire Mistress  Joey W. HillThese books read like one big story in two smaller volumes, with one notable exception (which I will go into later).  I’m glad that I waited to read the second half because I was concerned that the stories would not stand alone, and I feel somewhat justified in that perception. I don’t think you should read one book without reading the other, or the experience will feel unsatisfying. Moreover, I was worried that you’d taken one novel and shoved it into two books, but this was not the case.  I did not feel like this suffered from story-bloat. Many times authors will try to draw out a shorter story with extended sex scenes or big misunderstandings to fill page count (or so it feels like from the reading perspective) but I am pleased that this was not so.

As a quick recap to Vampire Mistress, the story starts out with Gideon seeking peace of some kind. He approaches a Mistress in a BDSM club and finds Anwyn, who takes a liking to him and begins to show him how he has a submissive and protective streak under that angry, furious exterior. Anwyn has a vampire lover, Daegan Rei, but she will not be his servant, and he will not take anyone to his side but Anwyn. This little mess of a relationship gets worse when Anwyn is raped and brutalized in an alley by other vampires seeking vengeance on Daegan. To anchor herself, she must take Gideon as her human servant. Vampire Trinity spreads the story out to encompass the struggle that Anwyn has to fit in with the vampire community, Daegan learns who has betrayed him, and Gideon learns that he desires not just Anwyn but Daegan, too. The relationship focus is pretty focused on Gideon/Anwyn in the first book and then spreads to involve Daegan quite a bit more in the second.

I approached these books thinking they would be primarily focused on Anwyn, a newly-made vampire (and the titular vampire mistress). To my surprise – and delight – I felt as if Gideon Green was the focus of not one, but both books, and it is his journey that these stories encompass. If you read the first Vampire Queen books, you will recognize Gideon as the very emotionally damaged brother to Jacob, the Queen’s mate/servant. Gideon is a vampire hunter who lives to destroy those that go bump in the night. He is a man destroyed on the inside and lives nothing for vengeance. Yet it is Gideon that must be Anwyn’s anchor when she is turned against her will and made into a vampire that suffers from seizures and schizophrenic voices. It is Gideon that struggles with a strange attraction and partnership with Daegan, the loner vampire assassin. It is Gideon that must be the cement that keeps their fragile trinity together, and he must strip away his mental barriers to do so.

This is not a love triangle in the traditional sense – the men are not fighting over the woman. Rather, they all bring something different to the relationship, and it cannot function without all three parts. Daegan has never taken a servant before, and is fascinated by Gideon’s servitude to Anwyn, the woman Daegan loves. Gideon struggles with his devotion for Anwyn, a vampire, and Daegan, a man, and wants to serve them both. Anwyn must dominate Gideon as a vampire to make him truly happy, and at the same time, craves the fact that she cannot dominate Daegan. I don’t explain it as well as it’s done in the books, but you do truly feel as if all three parts make up the whole, rather than this being a pairing with a convenient third wheel.

Vampire Trinity by Joey W. HillI also need to give props to the relationship between Daegan and Gideon. I initially felt this would be an afterthought just to fill in the triangle, but the vibes between the two of them lit up the page. If Gideon’s servitude to Anwyn started out as a ‘marriage of convenience’, Gideon’s sexual relationship with Daegan is an ‘enemies to lovers’ trope. Gideon hates what Daegan is, even as he grudgingly respects and admires him. Gideon hates and is confused that he is so attracted to a man. Daegan is less hung up on the manlove aspect than Gideon is and is the more aggressive partner in the pursuit. Their banter is funny, playful, and totally sexy, and I found myself far more interested in when Daegan kissed Gideon than when either man kissed Anwyn.

The entire story is not all happiness and kittens and manlove, though. I had a few issues with the story. This is the third one in a row that I’ve read from you that features a heroine brutalized and raped, and how that brutalization is the catalyst for the next stage of her life. While your books are about dubious consent and submitting all to your partner, I’m not sure I’m keen on this trend, if it is one. In addition, I felt that parts of book one went on a bit too long with Anwyn’s torture and struggle to become a vampire. These books are about dark, sexy needs and hungers, and this was more like the vampire version of the Exorcist. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but that wasn’t it.

I’d give book one – Vampire Mistress – a B-.  It was intriguing and the storyline interesting, but I felt Anwyn’s struggles with her vampiredom felt a bit too much for too long, and Daegan was more of a minor player in this book.  However, it picked up speed nicely at the end and I was eager to read the next.

Book two, Vampire Trinity, felt like an extension of the first book – so much that when you began recapping the last story at the beginning, it felt almost painful to me. It would have been helpful if I’d had the six month wait between books, but since I did not, I was impatient to continue forward. Not your fault, but it did pall my enjoyment a little. But after the slow start, we delve back into Anwyn, Gideon, and Daegan’s world quickly enough, and watch their relationship escalate, and I thought this book was like a well-orchestrated song from a favorite band. The sex was incredibly sexy, the tension between Gideon and Daegan smoldering, and Anwyn was strong and came into her own as a vampire without being declawed by the two strong men at her sides. I liked this book quite a bit and wouldn’t mind if you revisited their relationship once more in future books. B+

 

PS — For those of you looking to pick up these books, I just wanted to point out that the trade paperback versions of both are highly discounted at Amazon right now. I purchased both for the Kindle, and after sales tax, spent double what I would have for the paper. Fair warning.

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN |  Sony| KoboBooks  (Vampire Trinity)

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN |  SonyKoboBooks  (Vampire Mistress)

Book review, romance book review, romance novel review, reviews about romance books, Jane Litte, Dear Author, vampire romance, erotic romance

REVIEW: Secrets of Sin by Chloe Harris

REVIEW: Secrets of Sin by Chloe Harris

Dear Ms. Harris:

Thank you for sending me your book for review. I suspect my review will solidify rumors that I just do not like erotic romance. I don’t believe that that’s true but I do find many erotic romances to be problematic. This is because I require some emotional connection to accompany the physical acts. I can see the accounts to create emotional depth in the story but I felt that those were written around the sex rather than the sex flowing from the emotional headspace. In this book, I felt like the story was created around a bunch of sex scenes rather than the sex scenes used to highlight any emotional progression.

secrets-of-sin by Chloe Harris Many times in the story I kept asking why. Emiline du Ronde was the daughter of a wealthy African sugar cane plantation owner in the Caribbean. When her father dies and leaves her alone, young and immature and spoiled, Emiline was easy prey for seducer, Reinier Barhydt. Reinier wanted his own ship but he lacked the funds. By marrying Emiline, Reinier got access to her money and her body. He uses both and then takes off to build his shipping empire, abandoning Emiline for four years. After four years of her husband’s absense, Emiline goes to her family lawyer to see about a divorce. When Reinier hears about this, he is enraged. He won’t be a cuckold and he won’t be sloughed off like dead skin. But before he runs to correct his wayward wife, Reinier has to introduce a new whore to the ways of whoredom with his best friend and business partner, Connor.

Why? Why open a book with the hero having sex with his business partner and a whore? What’s the point of that? What does it say about the hero? That he is a licentious philanderer? That sex is meaningless to him? (The business partner and the whore are the main protagonists in the sequel to this book but sequel bait sex scenes don’t set a good stage for a believable romance between the protagonists of this book). Reinier is portrayed as emotionally distraught because Emiline didn’t love him while he loved her. Yet not once do thoughts of Emiline enter Reinier’s mind while he’s pleasuring the whore. He does think of Connor though.

Connor and Reinier have a sexual attraction to each other that is alluded to but never acted upon. The way in which the two inflame each other and the time they’ve spent together alone on ships, one has to wonder why is it all talk and no action? In other words, why the titillation of two men being attracted to each other, two men who engage in menages, yet who are not screwing each other up one side of the captain’s cabin and down the other? At one point, Emiline does confront Reinier about Connor but Reinier never addresses his feelings for Connor, instead dismissing her jealousy as unreasonable.

Like Emiline, however, I felt that the strongest emotional connection was between Reinier and Connor. In one of the opening scenes, Connor gets hard just thinking about Reinier. They love each other, unreservedly:

His affection for Connor, Reinier knew, went beyond what was sane or sensible, but at least it was mutual. Reinier had never questioned it, nor had he ever had reason to. Connor was his friend, his only, best friend.

He was so much more than that if Reinier were completely honest with himself.

Rainier’s emotional insecurity is blamed on his bad, bad childhood and lack of mommy love, but the explanation was too little, too late for me. Further, Rainier never acknowledges that he pursued Emiline for her money, for the express purpose of marrying her and gaining access to the money. His actions are supposed to be offset by the fact that she bragged to her friends about capturing him. However, I never saw Emiline do anything adverse to Rainier. We were told, through Rainier’s words, that Emiline hurt him, but we saw through sex scenes and through Connor’s explanations, that Rainier has been whoring up and down the continental seaboard with Connor.

I felt like there was a mismatch between the character’s actions and what those actions told me as a reader and the words that were said by the characters. This passage is a perfect example:

He noticed her hands were trembling. When she put the cup down on the saucer she was holding with her left hand, it clat- tered. Emiline cleared her throat at the embarrassing noise.

Reinier laughed softly.

“What amuses you?” She was only smiling at him, her stun- ningly bright eyes searching his face, and as always she didn’t have the slightest idea what he was thinking.

“I see that nothing has changed.”

“Oh . . .” Emiline set out, but he rose to leave and she didn’t continue.

Reinier had had enough for the moment. If he’d missed the evening tide, then they had plenty of time to talk before morn- ing. “Since I feel fatigued after the journey, I will retire until supper. I expect you to honor me with your presence, Emiline.”

Her mouth opened and closed a few times, but in the end, she nodded, “Of course.”

Reinier hid his disappointment behind a detached but self- assured smirk, an expression he’d practiced well over the years. He’d have preferred her sneering at him, or screaming she’d rather starve or eat maggots than dine with him. But no, he wouldn’t get any emotional reaction from her.
Emiline. Always polite. Ever the perfect wife.

He wouldn’t get any emotional reaction from her? He was just laughing not a few sentences previously at her trembling fingers, the clattering teacup, and the embarrassing noise she made from her throat. At one point, Reinier is acknowledging that he married Emiline for her money and then he is cursing her for not loving him and running far, far away because she had broken his heart. Or was it because he was obsessed with her and didn’t want to be obsessed. Or was it the call of the sea, his first love? His reasons for abandoning her varied from section to section. I wanted to know what the root cause of their separation was because without knowing, how could I be convinced that being landlocked with Emiline would result in a happy ending?

And that was the crux of my problem with this book. I wasn’t convinced that Emiline and Rainier were happy at the end of the story. There wasn’t enough believable emotional development to accompany the sex scenes. Not even the exotic setting or the multicultural heroine saved this story for me. D

Best regards,

Jane

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony| KoboBooks

As an aside, I call the hero “I-can-see-the-hymen-from-my-porch-Renier” because when he and Connor took the whore he saw a “secret” in her girl parts which turns out later to be a half torn hymen. You have to wonder how many hymens Renier’s seen to make that kind of diagnosis.