Tour’s Books Blog

May 7, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Bound by Blood by Evie Byrne (erotic romance)

As you might surmise from the title Bound by Blood is a vampire novel, though in this ‘world’ they are more traditional ‘vampyr’, the kind that drink from humans, not the popular ‘bagged blood’ vamps.  This is the second book in Faustin Brothers series even though it actually occurs before her first book, Called by Blood, the story of the youngest Faustin son, Alex.  It opens at the breakfast table (coffee and newspapers) with the family together when Ma Faustin announces she’s had a dream of a mate.  Gregor and Alex both assume it will be the bride of the eldest brother, Mikhail.  It’s Gregor who is ready to run when it’s the name of his intended that his mother dreamed.  Everyone is happy – well, Alex and Mikhail are just relieved it isn’t them – but Gregor, a playboy and club owner is anything but thrilled.  He plays the field and loves his freedom.  And he’s a man with a plan to avoid getting mated.

Gregor is on his way to a meeting and stuck in NYC traffic as he listens to his phone messages.  Alex, disgusted with Gregor’s refusal to even look for his mate, finds her for hm.  She’s a librarian.  Of course she is.  How freaking perfect.  He runs the hottest club in the city and his ‘mate’ is a damn librarian.  Then he makes a mistake of finally answering his phone after successfully avoided it for weeks. His mother launches into a classic mother harangue and between her and the traffic, Gregor takes out his frustrations by speeding down a side street – and hitting a pedestrian.

Gregor stops and goes to help the poor victim – a woman, who is not exactly thrilled with him.

“You’re the son of bitch who ran me down!”

He got the feeling she would have yelled if he had not just knocked all the breath out of her. Instead it came out a hoarse whisper.

“Well, yes…”

“You motherfucker! You could have killed me!” She cringed away from him, dragging herself backward through the flowing gutter.

After checking him out and learning his name is Gregor Faustin, she pegs the guy driving her home as Russian mob. Now on her sofa waiting for ice for her ankle she just wants him gone, but he isn’t leaving fast enough.  Gregor feels very guilty and is determined to make sure she’s OK before he leaves.   Besides, he can smell her blood and it’s driving him nuts.  His horniness is so inappropriate – hell, he ran her over, but he can’t help himself.   A few questions later he has a bad feeling. She’s a librarian.  It can’t be.  He checks out a scrape on her forehead and just can’t seem to stop himself from licking up the drop of blood.

Lapping her skin, he captured those ruby beads. What they told him made him fall backward.

“It’s not bad at all,” he gasped as he struggled to his feet and reeled toward the door, clutching his chest like a movie villain who’d just been shot and intended to drag out his death scene.

No one—no one—tasted like that. He could eat her down to the bone. He could roll in her scent like a dog. Like a sophisticated drug, those few blood cells on the tip of his tongue were rushing through his bloodstream and altering his chemistry.

Maddy gaped at him, open mouthed.

On his way out he checked the names on the mailbox – it was the name his mother had given him weeks ago.

Unable to stop himself, he returns that night while she’s asleep.  He keeps telling her it’s a dream while he licks the deep cut on her thigh to heal it, then goes to her ankle to drain the swelling and ends up licking her feet till she comes.  Maddy can’t be held in thrall like an ordinary human and realizes it’s HIM and yells at him for having a foot fetish.  He flees, his parting words, “It’s a dream.”  In the morning she’s convinced it wasn’t – and the road rash and scraps on her back prove her right.  But what the hell was it?

They next meet when both hail the same cab.  Neither gives and they BOTH grab the cab, just to start squabbling again – which leads to kissing which gets so involved, the cabbie stops and throws them both out of his car!  Maddie stalks off and Gregor goes back to his club to meet Mikhail, the eldest and the only son that can’t pass for human, reminds him that by tasting her blood he is already bound to her, something he didn’t know.

Three weeks later Gregor goes to the library to ask Maddy out, but she says she’s leaving on an extended sabbatical.  He’s not buying it.  She can’t shake him, agrees to a drink and eventually he tells her the truth about what he is and what she is to him.  She takes it pretty well, but them she a huge science fiction fan and carries a Buffy lunch box.  Then she tells him the rest of something he guessed, she has a bad heart.  He doesn’t know it, but she’s giving herself one night with him.  So much of her life has been in hospitals, she can’t do it anymore.  Dying doesn’t bother her, she died twice on the operating table already, it’s more pointless pain and suffering that she can’t face.

They go back to his spartan room at his club and she spends the night.  He knows when he sees her scars her heart problems have been a lot more serious than she admitted.  They learn more about each other, but come morning, she runs knowing he can’t follow.  She passes out in a subway just as a woman says, “I’m a doctor.” Fuck.

Gregor wakes up, goes out and starts feeding, getting blood drunk.  Mikhail finds him and they end up fighting – but the first born is always strongest.  Once they wear each other out, Gregor admits he hasn’t taken her hearts blood because there’s something wrong with her heart.  Mikhail tells him to go find her and he’ll get a specialist.  Gregor finds her in the hospital where she’s refusing any procedures.  She agrees to listen to a heart surgeon who recently became a vamp.  He believes with a conversion to vampire and the Jarvik 2000 pump until a transplant heart is available.

That night, it’s Gregor’s mother who comes to see her.  It takes her and later Gregor to convince her to try.  She finally agrees to try.  They rush her to a vamp hospital where the specialist begins the two stage procedure, all of which hinges on her adjusting to the vampire conversion.

A month later, complete with her cables and batteries keeping heart going, she healed enough she wants to do more than just snuggle with Gregor.  On the night he opens Elixir, his new club she finally finds a way to seduce him and he finally takes her hearts blood.

The way she closes with the discussion about the two families meeting is a hoot and forms the perfect counter-point to all the emotions that came before.

I read Called by Blood when it was released earlier this year and thought it remarkable well written, though not my favorite kind of romance, too much angst for my taste.   This second book cemented by opinion of Ms Byrne’s writing skills and I liked the story a lot.  Madelane López de Victoria made for an unusual heroine and she and Gregor had the kind of snippy, prickly relationship that appeals to me.  I think having a ‘mate’ with a serious problem not easily resolved gave the story an emotional depth that most books lack these days.  I love an author that can make me laugh and cry at the same time.  It would have been so easy for the story to slip into a trite tear-jerker ‘self sacrifice’ tale, but keeping Maddy gutsy and real was just so much better.  She is the kind of person you’d want to call friend.

At short novel length, it was just a bit too short for me and the ending, while very well done, felt (probably deliberately) a little abrupt.  It would have been all wrong for Maddy’s problems to be resolved and the closing humor struck the right note for both the story and the characters.  Evie Byrne is a writer worth reading and watching.

My Grade: B+ (4.25*)

Who would enjoy this book:  Fans of N. J. Walters’ Dalakis series and Brotherhood of the Blood series by Bianca D’Arc.  My rating would be NC-17 to x.  Available from Samhain as an ebook only at the moment.  Short novel.

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