Tuesday, September 18, 2012
My Lord Vampire by Debbie Raleigh (a/k/a Alexandra Ivy)
When an old gypsy woman gives Sally Jenkins a mysterious amulet—promising much happiness if she safeguards it, and doom if she gives it to another—Sally is intrigued. Born on the wrong side of the coverlet, and currently her half sister's drudge, Sally has never had anything of value to call her own. Then a tragic carriage accident en route to London suddenly presents Sally with the chance to live her near twin's life.
Masquerading as Simone Gilbert, Sally is soon the toast of the ton, hosting dazzling parties and cozy salons—and the object of two men's dogged courtship. Sally senses a dangerous hunger beneath Tristan Soltern's smooth-mannered interest that repulses her, but she is drawn to elegant, black-eyed Gideon Ravel—and tempted to prove to him that she is exactly what she seems.
It's a risky game—especially when she discovers that Gideon himself is something other than the refined gentleman she believes him to be, something far more dangerous and unbearably seductive...
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This book starts off from an interesting premise and for the most part delivers on it. You've got the good vamp, the evil vamp, and the human maiden that's caught in the tug of war between them. She's duly repulsed by the evil one without really knowing why, and strangely drawn to the good one, again without really knowing why. Add in the backdrop of London high society and you potentially have enough varied intrigue to keep things really interesting. Unfortunately there's a certain flatness and predictability to it all. Not entirely, for the author does keep you guessing just how exactly it's all going to play out, and she does keep one or two surprises up her sleeve, but still I found it to be lacking a bit in depth.
Simone seems to be at first glance the typical London Lady, wise in the ways of society and how to work it to her favor. A woman with a very big secret to hide, she's worked hard to create the persona of the Wicked Temptress for herself, becoming one of the key players on the social stage while always holding herself somewhat apart from it to maintain an air of mystery. She is intelligent, practical, courageous, a master at working a crowd, and a gifted fashion designer and seamstress. In all of these ways she differs from the typical shallow and naive virginal heroine of historical romances, though when it comes to emotions, and and the dark intrigues and power plays she finds herself caught up in, she very quickly finds herself out of her depth. Still, she rarely plays the shrinking violet and even when terrified out of her wits is still more likely to jump into the fray than turn tail and run. Her character has a lot of depth to it, and is probably one of the best things about this novel.
Gideon is at first glance the over-confident hero. Arrogant, entirely self-righteous, convinced that it will be child's play to bring Simone under his control and protection and to convince Tristan to give up his mad play for power and return to their realm. As it is said, however, the best laid plans rarely survive the first encounter with your opponent, and Gideon finds out quite quickly upon meeting Simone for the first time that she is no timid maid that will do as she's told. Neither is Tristan very inclined to meekly return behind the Veil, and the lengths to which he is willing to go to achieve his goals often leave Gideon dumbfounded. To his credit, Gideon does quickly learn from his mistakes, adapting his approach as needed, though he never quite relinquishes his over-confidence or his idealism, the latter of which nearly proves to be his undoing.
The one major complaint I have with this book is the fact that the vampires apparently don't drink blood, or at least the good ones don't. The evil Tristan certainly does, and his wanton indulgences create quite a stir in the places he goes, but the good vampires apparently don't touch even a drop except in special circumstances, which is something I find more than a little peculiar, and, yes, wrong on some levels. I get that the idea behind them is that they supposedly have risen above their baser desires and lusts and devote themselves to logic and scholarship and other such entirely peaceful and civilized pursuits, but still...they're vampires. They should drink blood. And I don't believe that it would have disrupted the air of civility that the author has cultivated for them by having them consume blood responsibly, without taking a life to obtain it, at least when they are in the human realm. Besides this gripe, I simply found much of the book to be somewhat shallow with regard to how things were portrayed. Though Simone and Gideon are given a fair amount of characterization, her moreso than him, other characters are little more than stereotypes for the most part, with the possible exception of the mysterious Nefri.
Despite my problems with the book, however, I did still find it to be an enjoyable read. It's perfect if you enjoy historicals, especially ones with a paranormal slant to them, for it's not very long, and it reads easily, so you can just kick back and relax with it without worrying about it being a book you'll have to think about overmuch. Recommended for those who like historical romance, paranormal romance, and/or a blend of the two with a healthy dose of intrigue and danger thrown in.