Ezra Clarke has lived hundreds of years, but as a vampire, he remains stuck at age 23. Ezra wasn’t particularly happy to have been turned, and he is mostly just passing the time. This would be fine except for the fact that his family rules his city, and the vampire council in the county. As the oldest full-blood heir, it’s Ezra’s duty to take over leadership from his parents. While they are more than ready to pass the torch, Ezra isn’t particularly interested in ruling, nor does he want the requisite mate that is needed for him to take on the position. But with his parents placing increasing pressure on Ezra to take over, he has little choice but to find a mate.
When Ezra meets Declan Byrne at a club, he is drawn to the man right away. The chemistry between them is explosive from the start and Ezra quickly realizes what he has been missing without a mate. He and Declan complete each other perfectly; they have a bond that reaches into each other’s souls and Ezra is happy in a way he hasn’t been in years.
However, there are rogue vampires in town and they have set their sights on seizing control from Ezra’s family. When they threaten Declan, Ezra brings a fury like nothing they have ever seen. But even if he and Declan manage to make it out alive, they still must fight with all they have to rebuild what they lost.
A Thousand Lifetimes is a gritty, intense vampire story that I really enjoyed. The book has a darker tone than many of the author’s other works I have read, and I think it really fits well with the story. Ezra and Declan are all claiming and biting and rough sex with lots of blood everywhere. The vampire lore is a little more dark and twisted than a lot of stories I have read. As an example, vampires are turned by either a single maker or a pair, both happening during sex. So while Ezra thinks of his two makers as his parents, his brother (who was turned by just their father), has an occasional sexual relationship with Ezra’s dad. The characters respond to threats with violence and without much remorse. And I have to say, I was really all here for it. I am not always a fan of darker stories, but Hawthorne does a great job here and the tone really compliments the book and kept me very engaged from the start.
I think part of what makes it all work is the intensity between Ezra and Declan. These guys are passionate and intense, and occasionally even violent, in their sex. They have such feeling for one another, such a bond, it’s almost like they want to eat each other alive. We can feel how connected the men get once they have mated. This is especially rewarding as neither man has ever felt that kind of companionship and attention and they both thrive under the bond that they form. When Declan is threatened, we can feel Ezra’s pain so palpably. There is very much a “I’ll set the world on fire for you” vibe here that really worked for me.
As I mentioned, Hawthorne has created some interesting world building here in her vampire lore. It gave the story some unique elements I haven’t seen before and it was well done. I think where I struggled a little is with all the politics. This part of the story really comes to the forefront toward the latter part of the book, and I found some of it confusing. We know that Ezra’s family rules their city and the council, and that leadership is under threat. But I wasn’t clear what being the leaders actually meant. Ezra notes early on the only vampires in the city are basically his immediate family, so I wasn’t clear who they actually ruled over or what they did. Things also get somewhat complicated when everything comes to crisis at the end. I don’t want to get into details, but I found I had trouble following some of the motivations and connections that are made. So I think this part could have used a little more development.
The story has some great side characters, and based on a note at the end of the book, it looks like we might have a couple more stories coming. I really enjoyed this one and definitely look forward to continuing the series.