Ian Moreton is in love with his straight best friend and he realizes it is time that he stops pining and tries to move on. The perfect opportunity presents itself when he meets sexy Jesse Sykes and the two have a hot hook up that goes a long way to helping take Ian’s mind off Blake. When the two meet up again, there seems to be a real connection, in addition to a strong attraction.
Jesse became a vampire over 60 years ago and he knows getting involved with a human is a bad idea. While having sex with a human is not strictly forbidden by coven law or their agreement with the Vampire Liaison and Crimes Division, most humans don’t know vampires exist and a relationship with one is definitely impossible. When Jesse realizes he is getting more attached to Ian than he intended, he knows he has no choice but to break it off. The fact that Jesse’s ex is causing trouble and acting threatening means it is even more important that he stay away from Ian. But Jesse’s attempts to protect Ian end up coming too late and before long, disaster occurs. Now Jesse and Ian are caught in a crisis with seemingly no way out and they must fight for their lives, as well as their freedom.
Wounded Soul takes an interesting approach to the vampire genre and I think author Annabelle Jacobs does a nice job with the world building here. It doesn’t break entirely new ground, but there are some nice elements here that give the story a fresh quality. The vampires here are unknown to most humans and have an agreement with the Vampire Liaison and Crimes Division that keeps them safe from hunters in exchange for agreeing not to feed on humans. This sets up some nice conflict with those within the coven who feel life is better with these protections and those that chafe under the relatively new rules. I also enjoyed the use of the ensemble cast, including Ian and Jesse’s best friends and Jesse’s coven leader, and I think having them being an active part of solving the crisis the men faced rounded out the story nicely.
I did find this one a little slow, however, perhaps partly because I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Ian and Jesse. The two hook up a couple of times and I just wasn’t feeling the connection as strongly as I think was intended here. So when Jesse has to break it off, it took away some of the intensity and sense of loss for me. A lot of the book is these guys negotiating the dangerous situation in which they find themselves, and while there are some moments of action, there is a lot of time with people just talking through their problems and vampire politics, and it just didn’t have the energy for me I was hoping for. Perhaps if I had felt the chemistry between the guys more strongly, their plight would have felt more urgent. But as it was, this story felt kind of slow to me, despite the often dire situations they found themselves in.
The story has a major bad guy in Jesse’s ex boyfriend (and sire), Peter. He starts off kind of creepy and moves into full on murderous villain. What I found frustrating is that despite this guy’s clearly horrific behavior, everyone seems to kind of shrug it off as Peter being annoying or behaving like a jerk. Like exasperation and eye rolling, but no one seems to acknowledge that he is actually basically a psychopath until almost the end of the book. It kind of made me want to scream at the way every seems so blasé about dealing with him, as if he is merely an irritant when he literally murders someone in cold blood. It also took away some of the story intensity because no one seemed to be reacting strongly enough when dealing with Peter. The fact that everyone just seems to shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes when Peter is so clearly a horrific murderer just made me kind of nuts.
So I think there are some nice elements here and I enjoyed Jacobs’ world building, as well as the ensemble cast. But plot-wise, I found this a little slow and didn’t feel like the story had enough intensity from either the characters or their reactions to the bad guy to fully carry the long book.