Monday, July 13, 2009

Called By Blood by Evie Byrne

TITLE: Called By Blood
AUTHOR: Evie Byrne
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 39k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.50

Alexander Faustin has come to Boulder to find his mate. There’s only one problem. She’s human, and he’s…not. After a disastrous first meeting, Helena MacAllister is convinced she has a stalker, even if he’s the most gorgeous, intoxicating man she’s ever seen. She really shouldn’t let him in when he shows up at her house the next night, but she can’t resist. But his weird talk about fate and marriage is nothing compared to finding out he’s a vampire…

Evie Byrne was one of my exciting finds last year, and this title one of the books I’d picked out at year’s end as something to look forward to in 2009. It’s taken me a little longer to get to it, but now that I have, I can confirm that this is an author whose voice most definitely works for me. I say this with utter certainty, because I ended this story with a smile on my face even though the first chapter nearly stopped me dead in my tracks.

Alex Faustin is a vampire, in a reality where vampirism is a species variation, primarily bred though they can be made as well. His mother had a dream foreseeing his mate, so Alex has dropped everything and flown across the country to Boulder to meet Helena, and this is where the story starts out. On Helena’s doorstep. He rings the bell, Helena answers, and within eight lines of dialogue, the two are kissing and dryhumping on the doorstep. Eight lines. From the time Helena answers to the door, to the moment Alex pulls her into his arms and kisses her, is less than 500 words. And Helena responds. Vigorously. She does end up breaking it off when leaning against the doorbell startles her from her sexual fugue, and calls 911, but honestly, her instantaneous, unquestioning response completely threw me. I don’t generally do the instant love stories. I don’t like them. I find them incredibly hard to believe or get into, and even though the story’s humor made me smile and laugh more than once in those first couple chapters, I didn’t respect or really have any faith in either of the two leads.

It continued on like that through to chapter three, and the aftermath of Helena and Alex’s wild night of sex. The sex itself was reasonably hot, though I still thought Helena was a flake for her back and forth with her feelings. The scene that follows, as Alex tries to race against the dawn, is taut and exhilarating, and does a lot to really develop Alex, but Helena…that doesn’t happen in any one scene. Over the course of the rest of the book, as Helena finally responds in what seems like a realistic manner by questioning Alex and not necessarily trusting him all the way, my respect for her grew, until I was finally able to finish the story content and smiling.

I credit much of this conversion so to speak to the author’s humor and sparkling voice. She’s one of the few e-authors I’ve read who tickles me with her phrasing and situations, engaging me in the action while at the same time, engaging my mind as well. There’s a joyousness to the entire story that mirrors Alex’s easygoing, shameless, impulsive personality. I can’t remember the last time reading about a grocery shopping trip was so enjoyable. This effervescence counters absolutely everything that spoiled the beginning of the story for me, and if the ending felt a little rushed, I was far more forgiving at that point than I had been at any time before.

While I can’t say that I enjoyed this novella overall as much as I did the first one I read by Ms. Byrne, I will most definitely be continuing on with this series, and with her other future works. The fact that she could so thoroughly pull me out of the fire as she did is testimony to her skill. There is no way I’m stopping now.


8/10 – Other than stumbling over the beginning, the prose is funny, fast, and furious


8/10 – Shamelessly charming


7/10 – If the beginning hadn’t ruined the set-up for me, she would have likely ranked as one of my favorite heroines of the year

Entertainment value

7/10 – There’s so much to love about this…except the beginning.

World building

9/10 – The alternate take on vampires is sharp and thoroughly believable




Evie Byrne said...

Thank you! I love your reviews. And you are totally right about there being too much heat in CBB at the get-go. When I wrote that story--as a newbie writer--I was working under the impression that an erotic romance had to start with a...uh...bang?

Anyway, you might remember Dante's Inferno started with sex, too. The two stories were written at about the same time.

The good news that now I'm old and jaded and know better, so the other two books in the Faustin Brothers series don't rush the sex. I hope you'll enjoy them.

Book Utopia Mom said...

Oh, yes, I remember. :) I think it's the difference in intent that probably makes the difference for me between these two stories. Serena's specific purpose was probably enough for me to be okay with the immediacy of the first sex scene. Plus, ohmigod hot. ;)

I'm really looking forward to the rest of them. I absolutely love your voice. I think you're fantastic, and I really hope you get the audience you deserve.