Nova has lived in Middle Brierly — a small, remote village in the English countryside — for longer than there’s been a Middle Brierly. He’s not a social man, preferring the company of his dog and the quiet society of a sleepy town. As the bartender for Sheep’s Rest, not much is expected of him beyond pouring drinks, avoiding flirtatious patrons, and the deepening ennui of being a solitary vampire. But all of that changes when Drew and his retired rock band come swanning into town.
Middle Brierly is a strangeness, even in a world where vampires walk shoulder to shoulder with humans (just, not during the day). In this one sleepy village, vampires outnumber the humans, and the vampires who live there tend to be solitary with no interest in forming clans. For Drew, this is the perfect place to put his newest project to the test. He plans to buy out the remaining humans and make this a vampire only town, and turn the Sheep’s Rest into bleeder bar with fresh human always on tap.
Needless to say, Nova hates this idea. Almost as much as he loathes the handsome man, with his charming smile, who has just become his boss.
Nova, like many other older vampires, was turned against his will. When he was young, serving his maker, he did terrible things. Now, he avoids the company of other vampires — and humans, too — and drinks synthetic blood. He hasn’t had fresh blood, let alone human blood, for a few decades. Once the synthetic stuff was introduced, it’s all Nova is willing to drink. But he wasn’t always like this. When Katherine was alive, his vampire lover, he was happy. He played the piano, he laughed, he lived. But she was killed and now he might as well be dead himself.
Drew was born in the shadow of the Great Wall of China, and died there, too, turned by a monstrous vampire who hurt him, degraded him, and abused him until, one day, she abandoned him. Then he found his new family, his clan, and they became a rock group with some modest popularity. Now, though, several members of the band want to stop — stop the touring, the fame, the soul-sucking lifestyle — and so Drew and the family are retiring from the lime light. A small town seems ideal. They can rest, explore new hobbies (and for one, a new hubby), and Drew can work on his newest idea.
When Nova and Drew meet, it’s disinterest on one side and boredom on the other. Despite being an ancient vampire, Nova has kept his romances very limited and always to women. Drew, however, has no such compunctions. Sex and lust are fun, and love … well, he hasn’t found it yet, and not for a lack of trying. He flirts, he pushes himself into Drew’s company, and it doesn’t take long before Drew has worked his way beneath Nova’s skin.
Unfortunately, for me, the whole book felt only skin deep. I have so many unanswered questions — what about the other other vampires in Middle Brierly? If this town is filled with solitary vampires, how do they react to having a clan move in? What does the rest of the world think of solitary vampires? How common are vampires? Not a single human has a problem with vampires, so I’m guessing they’re common? There is so little attention given to the world beyond Drew and Nova and that can work, but unfortunately, for me, in this case it didn’t.
Drew and Nova didn’t have personalities so much as backstories. I never got a feel for the characters as characters, and their actions rarely felt as though they backed up the emotions they said they had. To advance the conflict of the story, Drew has to be angry with Nova, so he is. And when it’s time to forgive, he does. There is so much telling, so much stating of action that I felt unconnected to the story and found it hard to feel any investment for the characters. Nova never acted angry, he just said he was. Drew never acted sad or hurt, he just told his friends he was hurt.
The plot itself felt rather transparent — and there’s nothing wrong with that. It can be nice and relaxing to follow the breadcrumbs the author leaves and end up precisely where I thought I’d be, because the breadcrumbs, the journey itself, and the scenery along the way are what draws me along more than having a sudden twist ending. However, here everything felt so stiff and matter-of-fact that I felt as though I was being kept a bit removed from the overall story, and it ended up feeling like a rush to get to the end rather than a story about two characters.
I had hopes for this book because it’s one of the few paranormal romances where both main characters are vampires and yet, I never felt like they were vampires. I never felt like they or the world they lived in were anything different than the normal world. Regretfully, this book is a solid pass, from me. With nothing new added — no world building, no explanation or exploration of how or why this world and its vampires work — and my lack of interest or connection to the characters, I’m left with a shrug.