Friday, April 10, 2009

Breathe 1: Sanguine Shadows by Willa Okati

TITLE: Breathe 1: Sanguine Shadows
AUTHOR: Willa Okati
PUBLISHER: Changeling Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 15k)
GENRE: Gay vampire erotic romance
COST: $3.50

Darce has done his best to live off the radar as one of the bloodkind, keeping himself separate from the company of other vampires and the danger they court. The cowboy might be lonely in his solitude, but he’s safe.

Raven’s come to change that. He’s come to change everything.

A newly made bloodkind, Raven’s out to shake up the old world order that oppresses their kind. He carries Darce along in his wake like a leaf on the tide, pushes and goads and tops from the bottom, inciting Darce to lust, passion and action. He makes a centuries-old cowboy feel alive again, something well worth taking risks for.

But when Raven challenges the Sanguine, the most dangerous of all vampires, has he gone too far?

NOTE: This is a review originally written for Uniquely Pleasurable.

I don’t usually use publisher blurbs in my reviews, but when I was looking at this one, it just fit too perfectly not to. Because that is exactly what this short novella is all about. It’s succinct without being too terse, but doesn’t give off so many details that it feels like an information dump. I’m reminded of why exactly I wanted to read this particular short, and glad that in this case, the promise of the blurb is followed through on with the story.

The story opens in Darce’s favorite bar, but his desire for solitude is shattered almost immediately by the arrival of the upstart, Raven. Darce has no delusions about what he is, and no need to act out. In fact, he seems rather disgusted by human pain junkies who hang out with vampires in hopes of a fix. But Raven won’t get out of his face, and hits on Darce for all he’s worth. Since it’s been too long since Darce could simply enjoy sex, he ends up taking Raven up on the offer of a quickie in the alley, an encounter that is as hot as it is telling about the characters. This is where the story shines. Both characters are snappy and vivid, leaping from the page from the very first words. Raven has an irrepressible charm that makes it easy to understand Darce’s fascination with him, while there’s a melancholy languor to Darce that meshes with his whole lone cowboy vibe. I wished I could have known more about Darce, but as this is the first of a series, I imagine that the questions I have about him will be answered in future installments. As for Raven, what you see is pretty much what you get.

Conflict revolves around the fact that a self-appointed judgment board of bloodkind, called the Sanguine Court, has decided Raven is a threat to their existence. He preaches rebellion to the new and disenchanted, supporting the ideas that bloodkind shouldn’t be relegated to prey and shadows. The last thing Darce is looking for is chaos in his very ordered, very predictable world, but the Sanguine refuse to let him off the hook, since it’s obvious to anyone with eyes that something is going on between him and Raven. From there, the story rushes forward in a “just who is going to get who first” race, that brings the end around even faster than its brevity would suggest. While I thought some of the resolution was just a little too easy, I have to admit that I was thoroughly sucked into the action anyway.

This is a fun, hot, and exciting start to a new series for Ms. Okati. I’m looking forward to seeing the charming Raven draw Darce out of his shell, as well as see these two really create some sparks, both in the bedroom and in the world of the bloodkind.


8/10 – Clean, hot, and evocative

Hero #1

6/10 – Likeable, but I felt like I wanted to know more about him

Hero #2

7/10 – With an irrepressible charm, you can almost see Darce’s fascination with him

Entertainment value

7/10 – I’m not sure I believe it could be as easy as that, but I had fun following along

World building

8/10 – An interesting vampire world the author has created, I’m curious about seeing more



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