The war that brought them together has been over for a year and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the vampires, and Raymond Payet, now in charge of l’ANS, have been living together and loving each other. Most of the partnerships that formed during the war are still going strong, but new vampires and wizards are forming partnerships without having all the facts, and some of them are unhappy. This pushes Raymond and Jean to do what they’ve been trying to do for a while: start up an institute that explores the pair bonds and has educational services so that anyone wishing to enter into a partnership has all the information they could have before agreeing to it.
Raymond is first and foremost a researcher, and he wants to head the institute himself. But he doesn’t know how he can give up his position of President of l’ANS. He puts that decision on the backburner while he and Jean, along with their friends Alain and Orlando, and Thierry and Sebastien, renovate an old monastery in the French countryside for use as the institute.
But while this is all going on, Jean wants to push for more in his relationship with Raymond. He wants an Avue de sang, which would allow him to feed from Raymond whenever without hurting him, and cements the bond they already share as deeply as possible. Up until now, they’ve never admitted that they love each other, both wary of how the other would react. During an argument, the truth comes out. It brings them closer, but when Jean brings up the Avue de sang, Raymond balks. He’s scared about how that kind of bond could change him. Things are left unsettled between them when a disaster at the institute has Raymond running off to deal with it. When Jean finally arrives, it’s to discover that Raymond has been gravely injured. Now he might lose the man he loves, and Jean doesn’t know how he can deal with that.
All right. If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge, ginormous fan of this series. I reviewed the first four books in the Partnership in Blood series for a previous Throwback Thursday post, and I’m thrilled to review this next installment for you as well. Because I love these guys, I love this world, and I really loved this book. I suppose, in theory, you could read this as a standalone (though I have no idea why you wouldn’t want to read them all) as Tachna gives good explanations of everything you need to know, but I can honestly say the impact is much greater having read the first four and already knowing and loving the characters and the world.
Raymond and Jean are the heart of this book. Raymond is a particular favorite character of mine, from almost the very beginning of the series. I love his analytical mind, his quest for answers, and how he’s so humble about his intellect and his abilities. This man truly doesn’t know his worth but he wants to do the best he possibly can for the world and for the magical community. I love his heart. I love seeing underneath all his layers. And I love the way he loves Jean, quietly and without pressure. Their love is a beautiful thing, and it was so satisfying to me to see it expanding and growing as the two men get to know each other even better and share themselves with each other.
With most of the fallout from the war between the wizards dealt with, Raymond and Jean can focus on other important things. One of the big things is the partnerships between vampires and wizards. When they began forming the partnership, no one knew all the far reaching implications. Now that they are able to step back, they know how deep the bond goes. What I really loved here is that Tachna does a fantastic job of weaving together that part of the plot with Jean’s wish to make Raymond his Avoue. Because Raymond thinks they can’t publicly be declared as such—because he would show partiality he needs to keep hidden—and because he’s afraid of how it will change him, Raymond balks. And I wanted to shake him when he did. I wanted nothing more than for this pair to be tied as closely as possible to each other. But I had faith that Raymond would change his mind once this analytical man had the facts.
Interspersed with Jean, Raymond, their issues and relationship, and their new ventures, we get to see Alain and Orlando as well as Thierry and Sebastien. Though these characters and their relationships are not the focus here, it really fleshes out and enriches the book to see them. It gives the story a whole feeling that it might not otherwise have had. There is a bit of head hopping in this book, but it totally works and is never confusing, and we get to see the POV of these guys as well.
I cannot give enough love to this series. I’ve devoured these books multiple times over the last few years. And this one is my favorite of the bunch. It doesn’t have the desperate feel of the first four because the war is over, but that does not detract from the story in anyway. I loved that we got to see the aftermath and the rebuilding after the war, in addition to seeing the partnerships grow. And to have Jean and Raymond as the center was both satisfying and perfect. I highly recommend this book to you, as well as the whole series, and if you haven’t read it already, you’re missing out.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.