Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 10 hours, 25 minutes
Mark Hansen has spent the last few years working as an artist’s assistant and pining for his super hot boss, Jonathan Varga. The problem is, not only is Jonathan kind of standoffish, he also is a vampire, infected with the Hemovore virus. The virus is highly contagious; any contamination by bodily fluids means passing along the infection and the survival rate is incredibly low. Those V positives who manage to survive end up unable to touch or physically interact with anyone who doesn’t have the virus, which means that the chances of Mark being able to live out his hot fantasies about Jonathan are pretty much nonexistent. Even if Jonathan seemed remotely interested, which sadly he does not.
Mark is going about his normal routine running errands for Jonathan, getting cat blood for him to drink and arranging for his paintings to go to the gallery, not to mention driving in the circuitous routes around town that Jonathan insists are necessary for security. Mark thinks Jonathan is being ridiculous, until the two find themselves suddenly hunted by someone from Jonathan’s past who is always one step ahead of them. People are being killed, the guys’ bank accounts are closed, and the pair are now on the run. But figuring out where to go when there is no money and nowhere safe seems almost impossible. The mysterious man from Jonathan’s past seems to have an incredible reach and no matter what they do, they are in danger.
As the guys try to make their way to safety, they begin to grow closer, and Mark begins to see glimmers of what could be between them. But with a killer on their trail, no safe place to hide, their mixed virus statuses, and the police blaming them for the killings, the men could end up in jail, or worse.
This book caught my attention as soon as I saw it had been re-released. I mean, look at that gorgeous cover! And when I learned that Joel Leslie was narrating the audio, I snatched it right up. The story was originally published in 2009 and has recently been updated and re-released in both book and audio formats (along with a bonus short story at the end).
So wow, I am a huge fan of Jordan Castillo Price’s Psy Cops series (which you all should be reading), but I haven’t read many of her other works. So I really didn’t know quite what to expect here, but I loved every minute of it. First off, the world building is creative and fabulous here. The story takes place in our contemporary world, with the twist that vampires exists and the condition spreads like a disease. Given how highly contagious it is, it is hard for V positives and V negatives to mix. People must wear gloves and prepare food in different kitchens, use different bathrooms, and make sure to never get fluids mixed. There is a nice bit of poignancy here as Mark and Jonathan meet a couple with mixed Hemovore status who can basically never touch without gloves, let alone kiss or make love. It is a moving moment that really highlights the story. I loved all the little details here, like the weirdly flavored waters the vampires drink to make up for not being able to eat food, or the way the type of creature whose blood a vampire drinks can influence their senses and reflexes. Castillo Price has built such an amazingly clever world here. I love the way she takes this basic idea of a contagious vampire disease and expands upon it in so many interesting ways.
The story is also wonderfully fun and suspenseful. I don’t want to give away details as to who is after Jonathan and why, because it is more fun to learn along with Mark, our POV character. But these guys go through hell as they try to stay away from the bad guy who always seems three steps ahead of them. The story is exciting and thrilling and so clever as we watch them try to maneuver against an enemy that seems to hold all the cards. I loved the aid they get from an unlikely place. And I loved seeing the relationship build as they fight for their lives. The story moves really nicely, giving us some moments for the guys (and the reader) to catch their breath, but also keeping the tension high throughout.
I also loved the romance that builds between Mark and Jonathan. The chemistry between them is great and I think the romance moves at just the right pace given everything these guys are dealing with. But even as they can’t get together right away, I never doubted the connection between them and oh the pining! Just loved it. Plus, these guys are great characters. Jonathan appears straight laced and uptight (and he kind of is), but there is this whole other side of him that we see uncovered. And Mark is snarky and sassy and so much fun, they are just great together.
As I said, I listened to this in audio and was blown away by Joel Leslie’s narration here. Leslie is one of my favorite narrators and I have to say, this may be my favorite performance of his so far. Not that I haven’t listened to others that seem more technically complex, with more characters or a bigger variety of accents. But something about this audio was just magnetic. I tend to listen to audio when I have periods of downtime, like grocery shopping or driving. With Hemovore, I was practically inventing things to do that would give me a chance to listen. I could hardly put it down.
I think that primary thing that makes this audio so good is that Leslie just inhabits Mark and brings him to life so well. We are in Mark’s POV and the way Leslie portrays him feels exactly like the character Castillo Price has written. Mark is the perfect voice to guide us on this crazy journey they take, and Leslie just captures him wonderfully. On top of that, we have Jonathan’s Hungarian accent, which is just enough to fit the character without being overwhelming, as well as great voices for the side characters. I was particularly impressed that I could forget it was a man narrating the female voices, they felt so natural. The tone and pacing is great and the audio just brought the already fabulous story to life.
So this is a book a really loved. It is a fun and unique take on vampires, something totally different than anything I have read. And oh would I love more stories with these guys! I can highly recommend the book in either format, but if you enjoy audio, I’d say give that one a shot.
P.S. This updated version also contains a short story, Sweet, that is a follow up for Mark and Jonathan. It is about the last hour or so of the audio. I found it a lovely way to cap off the main book. I don’t want to give away too much about what happens, but it develops their relationship further, as well as reuniting us with some of the side characters from the main book. So this is a great little bonus story that comes in both the book and audio formats.