Sunday, June 30, 2013

Desire by Blood by Melissa Schroeder

Enter the world of By Blood where an entire class of vampires operates within the glittering realm of the Victorian ton.

A man with a secret.

Nicodemus Blackburn has seen the best and worst of mankind. Five hundred years of dealing with them teaches the vampire to be very wary of the creatures. Unfortunately, alarming events leave him no choice but to enter the world of the ton to hunt a rogue vampire—one who is making his own army of blood thirsty vampires. Searching for the villain is not the worst of his troubles. That can be laid at the feet of bluestocking Lady Cordelia Collingsworth.

A woman on a mission.

Cordelia has always been an outcast, even in her own family. She has forged her way in the world with her ability to write, and Nico Blackburn is the focus of her next article. Before she can obtain any information about the mysterious man, she is pulled headlong into a scandal that leaves her with no choice but to marry Nico—a man with dangerous secrets.

A passion that consumes them both.

Thrust into a world she knows nothing of, Cordelia finds herself falling in love with a man who claims to be a vampire. As their passion grows, so does the danger around them and Nico will have to call on all of his powers to protect the one thing he has realized he cannot live without: his opinionated, infuriating, and thoroughly delectable wife.

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A rather compelling story that draws you in almost from the first page. The attraction between Cordelia and Nico is palpable and evident from the first moment they meet. It's little surprise that within hours they end up in a clinch that threatens to compromise her reputation if he doesn't marry her, which of course he does. From then on they have to work at getting to know one another at the same time as the desire between them refuses to be denied and keeps pulling them together again and again whatever other differences they may have.

Cordelia is an intelligent woman who has been living her life independently in an age when women, especially women of the gentry, did not do so. More than that, she has been secretly working which was particularly unheard of and simply not done by titled women in Victoria's England. She has been a journalist, a genteel and learned profession to be sure, but still one that would have sullied her already precarious reputation had it been known. Still, it is her job which really brings them together to start with, for without the impetus to question him for the paper she works for, it is doubtful she would have dared to approach Nico to begin with.

Nico has been a confirmed bachelor all of his life, particularly since the death of his brother and sister in law. He is haunted by memories, and loath to take a mate. Still, he does not hesitate in doing the right thing by Cordelia and asking her to marry him after they are discovered together in the library during a ball. His willingness to do so is no doubt helped by the intense attraction he feels toward her, and even though he intends to keep her at arms length, once they are married it quickly becomes apparent that he will be unable to do so, and he doesn't even really try. He does maintain a certain distance though in refusing to bond with her.

However much they are attracted to one another, and however well they get along in the bedroom, still they are two people who barely know one another at the time they are married and so a good portion of the story deals with them getting better acquainted and learning each others' personalities. There are outside distractions to this though, particularly for Nico who had originally come to London to investigate a series of odd murders. As time goes on, the murders continue and the situation becomes increasingly grave and Nico finds himself torn between his desire and need to be with Cordelia and his desire to find who is committing the murders both so they'll stop and so he can get their life back to normal and be able to devote himself to his new bride.

The story moves along at a good pace, and I found it difficult to put down through most of it. It does start to drag a bit around 60% or so, but quickly picks back up and keeps you reading to find out how it all will end. The end came rather sooner than I had expected, and was horribly rushed I thought and was resolved much too quickly and easily, so much so that I didn't think it was truly the end and that there would be another twist that I hadn't anticipated and that hadn't been foreshadowed. This is due in part because my reader was showing I was still only at 80% or so and so I wasn't expecting the main confrontation just then. In the edition I have, however, the last 10% is taken up entirely with samples of both the next book in this series and of one of the author's other books, so the percentage was deceptive regarding how far along I was in the book itself. I have to say that I find it rather annoying when there is so much extra material included that it skews the percentage to that extent.

Besides the problems with the ending, I still thought this was a very good book and will be watching for the sequel. I'd recommend this to anyone that likes paranormal romances, particular with vampires, or perhaps just anyone who likes historical romance and doesn't mind if there's a paranormal element to it. Historical romance readers should probably be aware that there are some inaccuracies here, particularly as regards women's clothing and the ease with which it could be removed or put back to rights. On several occasions the author has Nico simply pull Cordelia's bodice down to bare her breasts, or undo the buttons down her back to find bare skin beneath, completely disregarding the fact that women of the era wore several layers, including a corset, and because of this breasts were nowhere near so easy to bare. Still, while I found this detail to be a bit annoying, it ultimately wasn't enough to hamper my enjoyment of the book, so I'm giving this one a solid 4-star rating.

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