Carter has led an interesting life. At first, things were quite normal. He had parents who loved him, a house and toys and all that jazz, until he was orphaned in a car accident. Then, it was on to his uncle, an out, loud, and very proud drag queen who put aside his career to be a parent to Carter until he, too, passed. As if a life of parties, pride events, and a haphazard education of world travel and worldly men wasn’t enough, Carter then moved on to the next stage of his life to become the human attendant to not just one, but two, vampires.
Now Carter serves as a personal assistant to Ash, whose casket he’d like to climb into, and babysitter to Ty, Ash’s ‘son’ who wants only to get into Carter’s khakis. Even so, he and Ty have come to a sort of accord where Carter ignores Ty and Ty continues to try to get his attention — while Carter pines and sighs wistfully at Ash, who is either oblivious or politely indifferent. Things might have kept on this way if it weren’t for the machinations and mischief of one of Ash’s other children, the ancient, powerful, and newly public Sally Davis.
Sally has found social media and television quite to her liking and has plans to enter politics. Only it isn’t just a senate seat she wants. She’s aiming at the presidency as a first step, and what comes after might change the world for vampires and humans alike.
Carter has a very strong personality and the author manages to make Carter’s voice heard loud and clear through the entire book. He’s fey, flippant, and dismissive of things he doesn’t think are important. He’s also so head over heels in love with Ash that he doesn’t see the vampire’s bad side, only the hot body, the soft smile, and his own thoughts and feelings regarding what he wants Ash to do to him. When it comes to Ty, Carter’s just as oblivious, ignoring the other vampire’s attempts to flirt even as he rises to the bait each time, exchanging shade and repartee with a juvenile glee.
Ty was turned at a young age by Ash after a traumatic event and perhaps that has shaped much of his personality. He’s full of anger and energy and a callous disregard for human life. He’s hot and unstable and has all the energy and impulse control of a puppy with a chew toy. He kills humans with no thought and stalks Carter with a single-minded purpose. It’s hard to tell if he’s still mentally or emotionally the teenager he was when he was turned, or if the hundred plus years since then have given him any maturity because he’s all emotion and little thought.
Ash is … well, I’ll be kind and say he isn’t entirely useless, he’s just a terrible father figure. He has, at the moment, sired two vampiric offspring. One is Sally Davis, a crazy woman set on destruction and world domination, and the other is a young man who kills with impunity and has no sense of decorum or decency. And to both of them he’s distant and remote and utterly uncaring of what they do. While he shows some concern for Ty, he doesn’t seek to rein him in, and shows Carter the same distant disregard … until he needs something from him.
I’m going to be blunt and say I was not all that taken with this book. I don’t mind flawed characters, or even bad characters when — as they do in this book — they continue to behave as themselves. Ty never turned nice or sweet because it was more romantic; he’s a dick to the end. Ash doesn’t suddenly turn into a loving, caring father figure; he remains Ash from start to finish. However, the pacing in this thing felt decidedly off. It’s a slow, slow roller coaster building up Carter’s world until we pick up a bit of speed when the story gets going … only for it to dive down and explode in the last five pages with a climax that felt as if it came out of nowhere.
All in all, this book works as the introduction to a series, but I didn’t care for it as a stand-alone. There’s almost no weight to the plot to balance out all of Carter’s character study (which is roughly half the book), and not enough relationship to work as a romance. It feels almost more of a well-written memoir by Carter, but without much of a point to the story. If you like voicey young men and characters with personality, Carter might be someone you’d enjoy reading about. But there’s just not enough meat on the bone, for me.