According to stories, movies, and television, vampires are supposed to be powerful hunters who can make a man tremble in fear with a cold look. In reality, they are a barely protected class who are tolerated, but not welcomed. There are few laws to protect them and those laws have no teeth — especially when the police have no desire to side with the blood-drinking parasites against a fine, upstanding human.
In order to protect themselves from more beatings and true deaths, the vampires of Los Angeles have come up with a plan. Hunting in pairs, they will patrol the streets in their territory. These groups aren’t there to kill humans (no matter how tempting it is), but to keep an eye out for potential threats and calm down angry humans before their tempers spill over into mob violence. It’s harder than it sounds since most humans — thanks to books like Dracula and popular TV shows — know how to hurt vampires.
When Tristan, a vampire from Ireland, finds himself facing an angry group of men intent on doing him harm, he is more than prepared to fight. Fortunately for the humans, their fun is interrupted by a local bartender and ex-marine, Ross Delany. Ross owns the Bitter Brew, and while it’s not a vampire bar, he’s never refused to serve any vampires that walk in. But, vampire or human, no one deserves to be attacked by a gang of thugs and so he steps in to help. Ross and Tristan find they have more in common than their simple dislike of bullies and soon their friendship turns into something more. But is Ross ready to be a vampire’s lover?
This is the ninth book in J.P. Bowie’s My Vampire and I series. Having never read the other eight books, I didn’t find that I had any difficulty in following the story as this book features two new characters, Ross and Tristan. However, the story hints at a much bigger picture — and many more vampires — that aren’t really fleshed out in this offering. I did get enough bits and pieces, though, to be able to form a fairly good idea of what was going on.
Ross is ex-military, but he’s put much of that behind him. The only part of that life he’s kept is his desire to be fit, which leads to workouts and morning jogs, though he hasn’t exactly been keeping up with the jogging. When he meets Tristan, there’s an instant rapport that has a great deal to do with the absolute magnetism the vampire seems to have. While he’s never thought about kissing a vampire, before, Ross is more than a little interested in seeing what kissing Tristan would be like.
Tristan has had a difficult life. A few hundred years ago, when he was a young, living man, he was betrothed and married to a beautiful vampire who — along with her brother — fed upon Tristan’s family, draining them of their lives and their wealth. She turned Tristan, who was forced to endure torture and abuse at their hands until he managed to win his freedom. Now, living in the States, Tristan walks the Vigilant Patrols to help protect other vampires.
Normally I’d mention something about the relationship — how the two characters come together, the emotions they share, or the spark that ignited their chemistry, but these two characters have no relationship that I can see. Neither of them seem overly affected or shaped by their pasts, either. In the course of one night, Ross helps save Tristan (who didn’t really need saving, or so he tells Ross) and the two of them go to Ross’ bar for a drink. There, Tristan tells Ross much of his life’s story. Ross double-checks to make sure Tristan is gay — and that Tristan knows Ross is gay — and the two of them agree to meet up the following night to fuck.
I felt as if there were missing chunks of conversation, scenes that had either been trimmed or lost because things moved so very fast. It’s a foregone conclusion that, in a romance book, the two leads will meet, have feelings for one another, and be together by the end of the book, but there still has to be some nod to the story, to a relationship of some flavor being built. I just didn’t feel as if any effort was put into this; this felt like an uninspired, by-the-numbers story with paper doll characters and cartoon villains. Every character sounded the same and spoke the same.
There are also some consent issues in this book that caused me to give it a side eye. Before Ross and Tristan get down to the deed, Ross pulls out a condom but Tristan says no. I understand that vampires (in this world) cannot carry any STDs or STIs, but there’s no conversation, no explanation, just “no” followed by “trust me.” Some people enjoy the idea of characters barebacking, and I have no issue with it either way, but the way the scene was written seemed very cavalier toward Ross’ feelings on the matter. Likewise, there’s the mention that two humans who were turned into vampires in other books were turned against their will. They were attacked and nearly killed, thus forcing their lovers to make them into vampires.
It’s not so much the lack of consent that bothered me as much as it is the lack of … originality. Two characters have the same event happen to them in two different books with very unsubtle foreshadowing for this one. With the fact that there are only two female vampires in this book, both of whom are evil and oh-so-crazy, one in the past and one in the present, it just ended up feeling very predictable. This is the ninth book in the series, so perhaps it makes sense that it feels so much like a re-tread of other books, but I felt as if there was a lack of effort in this story, especially where it concerns the characters.
The vampires themselves were a bit of a letdown. The author uses his vampires in lieu of exposition to explain the world to humans. Not only do they explain the plot, but they also explain how to kill them, the rules they live by, and the limits of their power. They didn’t sound like people, because they’re not. They’re info-dumps on legs. This is a decently written book and the pacing is nice and brisk, but I was left uninterested and unenthused.