Rating: 4.25 stars
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For the past three years, Sebastian has been a blood slave. After his parents kicked him out for being gay, he was picked up off the streets by a man promising him food and shelter. Instead, Wesley turned out to be the vampire owner of a blood house and forced Sebastian to sign his life away in service. Now Sebastian spends his nights servicing vampires, providing both sex and blood. As much as he has tried to remain strong, Sebastian knows it is only a matter of time before he will end up dead, either at Wesley’s hands or those of an overzealous vampire client.
Vampire Prince Valentin Wyndham doesn’t usually frequent blood houses, but his with recent move to the States, he hasn’t had a chance to feed in far too long. When he sees Sebastian, he is immediately drawn to the young man, both for his beauty and his spirit. For his part, Sebastian finds himself drawn to Valentin as well, attracted in a way he has never been with any of the other vampires. Valentin is not just sexy, but seems to really take care of Sebastian and see to his comfort and pleasure as well. After a night together, neither man can forget the other. Sebastian has given up on any hope of freedom, but as Valentin returns night after night, he becomes determined to get Sebastian out of the blood house to safety.
But even once Sebastian is free, things are not smooth sailing for the men. Wesley is furious to be bested by Valentin, and is determined to have Sebastian back, if only to make an example of him for the other slaves. Sebastian and Valentin are falling hard for one another, but threats to both their lives and safety may destroy their future before it can even really begin.
Every once in a while I am in the mood for a good, old school vampire romance and S.J. Frost’s Vampire Prince turned out to be exactly the type of story I was looking for. It has just the right combination of traditional romance, with a bit of a Cinderella fairy tale. We have Valentin, the dashing, wealthy, powerful vampire. He is centuries old, strong, and used to getting what he wants. At the same time, he is kind and generous, doting on those he cares about, and adorably stuffy. Then we have Sebastian, the imprisoned slave who is toiling away until his handsome prince comes to rescue him from certain death, sweeping him away to freedom. But Sebastian is not just a damsel in distress; he is also tough and fiery and is just on the right side of snarky to be charming.
Frost does a great job creating an interesting world where vampires are mostly hidden from humans. While many blood houses are reputable with “donors” who willingly agree to work there, there are others like where Sebastian is taken that are slimy and horrible, keeping the workers as slaves. The story really nicely develops the vampire hierarchy and various aspects of their society. We also learn about the demons and witches and other parts of the paranormal world that are nicely explained without being information overload.
I totally loved Sebastian and Valentin. Like I said, Valentin is pretty old school in terms of vampire lore, but I still found him charming and loved how doting he is on sweet Sebastian. And Sebastian is a spitfire, never backing down even when things look bleak. The two fall in love pretty darn quick, so you need to be able to deal with characters that are pledging their eternal devotion after a few short weeks. But they are sweet together and super hot, and for me they worked together. I also loved Valentin’s cousin and fellow vampire, Basil, and most especially their good friend and demon, Sal. I have no idea if this is to be a series, but oh pretty please may Sal get his own book? I will be the first in line to read about the snarky, powerful, redheaded demon.
In addition to the super fast falling in love, I also think the story relied a bit too much on miscommunication between Sebastian and Valentin. Nothing major, but we go through quite a few small things. Valentin thinks he is giving Sebastian space and freedom, while Sebastian assumes Valentin doesn’t want him anymore. That type of thing. It isn’t way over the top, but more than I would have liked. The bad guys are super villainous and the good guys are super heroic, but honestly, I feel like it all fits within the style of story this is.
So overall I really enjoyed this one. Like I said, it is just a really nice mix of fairy tale and old style vampire story. The heroes are likable and super hot together, the sidekicks are great and a lot of fun, and the world building is well done. I am really hoping that Frost gives us more here, because I enjoyed it quite a lot. Definitely one to pick up, especially for fans of a good vampire story or lovers of a poor young thing rescued by his handsome prince.
Note: This review was written for the original version of this story published by Ellora’s Cave. The book has since been rereleased by MLR Press.