I like this author, I do. I think she has talent. But . . .

That is not how you write a story. This is an erotic romance, so it of course starts with the two main characters immediately confessing their attraction and falling into each other’s beds. Um, I think you missed a bit there. How about setting up the characters? How about establishing their relationship? How about some context? Why would anybody give a fuck if Lucardo and Ed get together if the reader has never met Lucardo and Ed before? Also, wayda blow your sexual tension wad right up front. What am I rooting for now? Ugh.

If you aren’t going to play the will-they/won’t-they part of their relationship, but dive right into them being together and make the story about them weathering their new relationship, why not just start the story with them already together? If what the reader is meant to be rooting for is not for the main characters to get together but to stay together despite the world’s trials and tribulations, then you need to establish both their relationship and the world. Context is so massively missing in this book.

As the book goes on, context does poke its head in every now and then. There’s a scene in a church, and ritual is alluded to, but it seems like such an afterthought, like “Ooh, this’d be a cool idea”. Dealing with tropes like aristocratic vampires, you’d think it’d be easy to just take it as read, yet the world is curiously empty. There’s no sense of the characters’ lives beyond their interactions/fucking.

And kinda I guess what’s at the core of the problem is character development. You can’t just say, one’s tidy, one’s messy, and expect the characters to come alive. And what I’ve been saying over my last few reviews of romance/erotica – you need to have vulnerability, otherwise 1) it’s not realistic and 2) the reader’s got no reason to care.

I actually had high hopes on that regard when I picked up the book. I mean, Ed is an elderly mortal of low birth, in service to Lucardo who will look young and healthy forever. What I was looking forward to was watching Ed’s character overcome all those hesitations to give himself over to Lucardo in a state of trust. But instead the story just totally sidesteps all of that. I mean, if they’re going interact like a couple of teenagers, carefree equals, why put them in that context in the first place? You can’t say “how will their relationship weather his aging and mortality?” then literally never show it being an issue between them. And yeah, I get that it might be more of an issue for everyone else than it is for them personally, but the idea that that doesn’t filter through to Ed, that it doesn’t influence how he sees himself or his relationship with Lucardo, that’s just not believable.

So yeah, nothing’s believable. Not the characters, the context, the relationship. I mean, why have him be a servant, then have him literally never have him act like a servant? If he’s just cool fucking his masters and eating at their table and giving them backchat, what is the point?

I feel like there’s potential here but just no follow-through. Everything in this needs more flesh. Mmm.