Half-vampire Easton Sans has been sent from his own coven in Pittsburgh to the DuCane Coven to help them out. After a serious breach in their IT department, they need someone from the outside to audit and correct the problems. Even though the DuCane Coven knows they need help, no one is happy about it, and Easton is met with a very cold reception. The vampires are rude and even menacing, and Easton keeps his head down, determined to get the job done and head home.
Ismael Patronne is the second in command of the coven and he, more than anyone else, does not want Easton there. It rankles that there was such a huge mistake made under his command, and one he didn’t even see coming. But despite not wanting Easton there, not even wanting to meet him, Ismael finds himself weirdly preoccupied with the man, wanting to make sure he’s eating and resting appropriately. And when he finds out how horribly Easton is being treated, he’s determined to see that he’s at least treated well.
But when the two men meet, the truth becomes clear. They are Beloved, fated to be together. Ismael’s tone changes immediately, and though he doesn’t always say the right thing, he’s determined to make amends. Easton feels the pull just as strongly as Ismael, and he’s willing to forgive. But there are forces beyond their control, and there is much they have to deal with outside of their relationship. Attacks and betrayal have them fighting for their lives and the new love they’ve found.
Can we talk about his cover, y’all? I was immediately drawn to it. Not only is it just plain gorgeous, but there’s a power in the cover model that captivated me. With the dark background, all reds and blacks, it gives an ominous feeling to the whole thing, as though a true warrior is being depicted. Of course, the sword certainly helped that image. So as soon as I saw this cover, I was intrigued, and I thought the blurb sounded pretty good too. Vampire warriors sounded exactly like something I would want to read, especially after such an engaging cove, so I picked it up for Judge a Book By Its Cover Week in our Reading Challenge Month.
But sadly, this was one of those times where the book inside did not live up to the amazing cover. I had copious problems with this book, from the technical to the narrative, and that sorely lessened my enjoyment. With each page that passed, I grew increasingly frustrated and, in the end, I was glad it was over.
I liked Easton. He’s practical and pragmatic. He knows what he’s walking into and he doesn’t expect a warm welcome. More than that, even though he’s upset by the treatment he’s receiving, he also doesn’t want to cause problems, for his coven or the DuCane Coven, so he keeps his head down. But he also had a strong backbone, and he knew when he needed to push back and stand up for himself. I found him incredibly relatable, and even though I had issues with the narrative on the whole, I was rooting for him to get his vindication and find his place.
Ismael was kind of a jerk, sure, but he had reasons and he quickly changed his tune when he realized the depth of his bond to Easton. I expected this to happen, and though it was a little stereotypical, it wasn’t out of the norm. I liked that we got to see his character bloom as he showed his true self to Easton. And their love had all the quickness of fated mates, so while I would have liked a bit more development, I didn’t have a problem with it.
But while the characters are decent, the rest of the story was certainly problematic. The narrative was a little too quickly paced, without enough development. Part of this is that this book is a spin-off of the Pittsburgh Vampires series, and I’m sure a lot of the world building has already been established. But even still, there should be more in this book. It also felt like there was a lot of glossing over character traits and plot points that I would have liked to see more deeply explored. Even if it was just a paragraph or two, just to give it some depth. So this is a quick read and it doesn’t quite work for me, but there are some good points.
What absolutely didn’t work for me were the grammatical errors, punctuation errors, head hopping, and tense shifts. All that coupled with some serious wonky formatting, and what would have been a decent read definitely went downhill for me. I could have dealt with any one of those things, but all of them combined was problematic. The tense shifts, from third past to third present, were jarring and irritating every time they happened. The head hopping, sometimes to characters who weren’t one of the MCs, made things confusing and I had to backtrack to figure out who was thinking what. The serious lack of commas made the sentence structure unwieldy and I couldn’t help but mentally correct each one, which dragged me out of the story time and again. I also had to reread sentences to make sure I understood what was going on. After all that, the occasional wrong word or strangely structured sentence was a small thing.
Ultimately, I think I would have liked this book had it not been for all of that. The characters, while simple, had the potential to be engaging, and the storyline, while also nothing revolutionary, could have been satisfying for what it is: a fated mates story with vampires and warriors. In the end, however, I really can’t recommend this book, but mostly because it was just so hard to read with all the errors.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Judge a Book By Its Cover Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of two sets of 3 audiobooks (or ebooks if preferred) from Riptide Publishing! Commenters will also be entered to win one of our three amazing Grand Prize book bundles. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on Judge a Book By Its Cover Week here.