When I read the blurb for this book, I expected a somewhat lighthearted romp that would combine the paranormal world with show business, and touch on some darker themes. Unfortunately, not only was that not what I got, but ultimately, I had to put this book down by the time I reached 25% and did not finish it. First, the blurb.
Even after decades of abuse, the father of all vampires still can’t bring himself to leave the man he’s loved for years. But when a tragic loss finally convinces Gus to step up and leave, he discovers that running from the boss of the Celtic witches’ mob isn’t an easy thing to do. But in Hollywood, anything is possible.
There’s no better escape from life than a reality TV show, and when the chance to star in a gay dating show lands in Gus’ lap, he sees the cameras as his savior–even the mob can’t steal him back on live TV. Especially not when the man the contestants are all trying to win is LA’s baddest Alpha werewolf and former chief of the Paranormal Police.
The only problem? That same wolf wants nothing more than for every vampire to find themselves as dead as undead can be.
This paranormal drama is about to get real…
My first very real and pervasive problem with this book is the tone of the story. It deals with heavy themes, not the least of which is on page depiction of domestic violence and abuse. But it also includes murder of a child, child pornography, and slavery. And that’s all in just the first quarter that I read. And none of those things in and of themselves would make me stop reading. But here, the book suffers from a true lack of identity. What I mean by that is the tone of the story didn’t seem to know if it was supposed to be serious, and therefore giving the proper weight to the subject matter, or if it was supposed to be funny. As such, I felt completely disconnected from the tale, unable to understand or engage in what it was supposed to be. The humor was incongruous with the heavy subject matter, and if it was supposed to be comic relief, it failed. For me, the lack of clarity in the tone was the biggest deal breaker, and left me feeling cold toward the story as a whole.
But while that was my biggest problem, this story also suffered from a lack of world building in the portion I read, which admittedly is a sticking point for me, especially in a paranormal story. The utter lack of explanation left me scrambling to attempt to figure things out, and try to understand what the author was going for. The two MCs seem to be major players in the paranormal world, but the lack of explanation early on about why and how the paranormal worked within the human realm made following the plot difficult. I need solidity of place when reading a story, and this book failed to give it to me. Now, things might be explained more thoroughly as the story goes on, but I didn’t get that far. If I’m that lost when reading the beginning, any explanation would come too little too late for me.
I also found the MCs confusing, and they seemed to suffer from the same lack of identity. This book is told in alternating first person POV, so it should have been easy to understand the characters. But instead, I found myself confused as to what drove them and what makes them tick. Gus, the vampire on the run, was definitely a more endearing character, and I felt for him more than Rick. But given his situation, that makes sense. He’s an abuse victim who finally leaves. There was a softness to him I liked, even if I couldn’t understand much of why he thought the way and made the choices he did. Rick, on the other hand, is grieving the loss of his child. But he also decides to star in a reality TV show, despite the turmoil of his last year. His moods, dialogue, and thoughts seemed disparate, almost as if though he were two different people. But instead of it making sense, or perhaps having an explanation, it just felt disjointed.
On top of all that, there was a lot going on. Far too much for just the first quarter of the book, and instead of being compelling, it felt to me like a jumbled mess. Porn stars, a whole host of paranormal creatures and secondary characters, tragedy, abuse and violence, murder, a bounty, a reality show, and a whole pile of lies that were clearly meant to come back and bite the MCs later on.
This book didn’t seem to know what it was supposed to be, and the tone and characters were incongruous with the themes. While I was intrigued by the blurb and looking forward to another paranormal, this one missed the mark for me by a wide margin. Ultimately, it was better for me to walk away, as it was clearly not the book for me.