Friday, January 8, 2010

Damned by Blood by Evie Byrne

TITLE: Damned by Blood
AUTHOR: Evie Byrne
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 45k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.50

The eldest brother of the Faustin clan, Mikhail is the vampire prince of New York, with a reputation as icy and unyielding as his personality. When he discovers his fated bride is the first love who broke his heart, he has no choice but to find a way to claim her, even though she has become a formidable power in her own right. Alya Adad has fought most of her life for the position she now has, and the last thing she is willing to do is give any of it up. Even for destiny…

It’s been obvious from the first story that Mikhail’s story would be different than his brothers’. Each vampire has his own distinct personality, dictating a different style and tone for his romance. In Mikhail’s case, he is the coldest, sternest of the bunch, with responsibilities the others do not have. He’s the master of control, the purest vampire, the one unwilling to compromise who he is to pander to humans.

It comes as no surprise then that his fated bride is also a vampire. What is a surprise is that he’s already known, loved, and lost her. Alya Adad is as ruthless and dangerous as Mikhail, a perfect counterpoint to his strength. She craves power, and she’s had to suffer a lot of what goes against her nature in order to reach the height she has. The dynamics between them are fascinating, because they are so equally matched. They are driven to destroy the other, while at the same time, incapable of doing so. That fight provides the undercurrent of the entire story, giving it a dark edge that removes this from the feel-good vampire stories that tend to dominate the genre.

Mikhail is a terrific alpha hero, suffering because of Alya’s loss so many years ago even if he didn’t know it until now. His intensity seethes from the page, and I found myself holding my breath every time he appeared. I can’t necessarily say the same for Alya. While her characterization is certainly well developed, and her personality a great foil for Mikhail’s, I just didn’t engage with her to the same depths as I have previous heroines by this author. She was just a little too brittle for me to like as much, and it ended up putting a distance between me and her need for dominance.

It also distanced me slightly from the erotic scenes, which, in all honesty, I find unusual for this author. I’ve always loved the sensuality of her sex scenes, and while these are written just as competently, my failure to completely commit to Alya’s needs made it harder to immerse in some of their later BDSM games. It’s still done well, make no mistakes there. The motivations all ring true, and the reasoning for how Mikhail can make this one change totally valid. In fact, I genuinely loved the lines, …she believed power resided in control. To him, it meant getting what he wanted. It encapsulates everything and explains it all. But without really investing in Alya, I found it difficult to invest in the resolution. I was glad for Mikhail, though. His happiness is what mattered to me. And in a world as rich as the one in which he lives, the solution seemed utterly perfect.


8/10 – Uncompromising and intense


8/10 – Unyielding and icy, terrific alpha


7/10 – A strong match for the hero, if not quite as engaging

Entertainment value

8/10 – For the power of the dynamics and the author’s voice

World building

9/10 – The vampire world she’s created has never been richer



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