Now that Andrew has been released from his four-year exile on a deserted island, he is returning home to New Orleans with his new partner, Edmund, in tow. After Edmund’s ship wrecked on Andrew’s island, the two fell for one another and now they will be starting a new life together. Andrew is thrilled to not only have Edmund by his side, but to introduce him to the wonders of New Orleans, as well as to his life as a vampire.
With the two men now in love, they hope to turn Edmund into a vampire as well, so that he can have immortality along with Andrew. But that requires an Elder to turn him, and no one knows where to find one. Fortunately, Edmund loves a mental challenge and begins researching Elders in the great vampire library. It seems they are in luck when Edmund figures out where one might be, but when news of his mother’s poor health reaches him, he knows he must go to her instead. As Edmund and Andrew journey across the sea, the trip turns perilous and Edmund’s life is on the line. Suddenly the search for an Elder is not just a goal, but a necessity if Edmund is going to survive.
Escaping Solitude is the second book in Sara Dobie Bauer’s Escape trilogy. In the first story, Escaping Exile, we meet Andrew while he is stranded on the island and as he encounters Edmund and the two fall for one another. From a plot standpoint, you could probably jump in here without having read the first book, as the essential information is conveyed at the start of this book. But from a character standpoint, I do think reading the first story helps to flesh these guys out, particularly Edmund, who is a pretty atypical member of the gentry.
After that last book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I think the start of this one is a little slow as the guys mostly are exploring New Orleans. I did like seeing the city from Andrew’s POV, but it is mostly watching them indulge in some decadence (including a threesome for Edmund with Andrew watching) and meeting the local vampires (who are also a pretty decadent, sex-focused bunch). But things do pick up fairly quickly and by the time we reach the guys’ ocean journey, the book has a lot of excitement and intensity (as well as another cliffhanger). I think Bauer is doing a nice job with the pacing here for the trilogy, giving each story as distinct focus and its own exciting elements, but also carrying over the larger series story across all three. These are short novels and Bauer manages to get the story across well in a relatively small number of pages.
I think what I find most interesting here is Edmund as he is such a unique character. He is a member of the wealthy upper class, but he is an adventurer and a knowledge seeker, as well as an adrenaline junkie. Rather than sit back and enjoy his wealth and position, Edmund lives life to the fullest, even if it makes him somewhat reckless at times. So he is a really engaging character, and while we are in Andrew’s POV for these books, the focus is definitely on Edmund and how he adapts to the world of vampires and his new life. Andrew himself is a little flatter. We know he has come to regret his more barbaric ways (which is what got him sent to exile in the first place), so he is a somewhat changed man now that he is home. But he feels less developed than Edmund and at times seems a foil to worry about and obsessive over Edmund, rather than being a fully realized character of his own.
This story leaves us with an exciting ending and I am totally onboard for the final installment coming later this month. It isn’t too far away, but still plenty of time to grab the first two books and get caught up before it releases. This one definitely left me wanting more.