Ethan has been around a long time. As a vampire, he’s seen the best and the worst that humanity has to offer and, for the most part, he keep his distance from all of it. He knows better than to involve himself with humans and channels his energy into mercenary work that pays well, but lacks fulfillment. When Ethan becomes a white knight to college musician, Tristan Clement, Ethan finds himself captivated by the human. He knows he should stay detached, but Tristan is like a drug that Ethan willingly chases.
Tristan isn’t sure how he feels about being the favored human of an intimidating vampire. There’s no doubt he likes Ethan, but the man has a violent history and more than a few instincts are screaming at Tristan to get out while he can. When Fate intervenes and forces Ethan to make a drastic decision, he and Tristan will have to learn to navigate a new normal. Will the strain of it destroy them or bind them even more tightly?
Handsome Death follows some familiar vampire tropes and, while it’s characters are stronger than most in the genre, it succumbs to overall pacing and plot issues. Ethan is fairly well established and I felt from the start I knew who this character was and what his motivations were. He evolves throughout the book and, while some of those changes are overly saccharine, for the most part they’re believable. There’s never any doubt that Ethan’s nickname of The French Butcher is earned honestly and his character has an edginess that I enjoyed. Tristan is harder to understand and his character doesn’t have quite as much depth as Ethan’s. He still reads as fully fleshed though and his reluctance/desire to be with Ethan is well developed.
Handsome Death suffers from some serious pacing issues. The book as a whole felt far too long and there were times when the action either disappeared or the incidents seemed wholly unnecessary to the plot. An extended scene between Ethan, Tristan, and Tristan’s tutor is an example of a scene that provided little to the overall plot and could have been easy cut. I feel like the book could have been trimmed by at least a fourth without affecting the story or the character development. Handsome Death also failed to be particularly original. The outcome was obvious, as were all of the major events along the way. So while it’s a decent romance, I wouldn’t say that it adds anything new or exciting to the vampire trope.
Handsome Death might have been an ordinary vampire novel, but decent, relatable characters raised it to a more enjoyable standard. It still struggles with pacing, but I think most fans of paranormal romance will find something to enjoy here.