Blood and Roses by Aislinn Kerry
The last thing Arjen wants is a vampire in his bed. The rest of the world may be enamored of the creatures, but he doesn’t share the obsession. When local vampire Maikel van Triet pays a visit to the brothel, Arjen tries to slip away—drawing the one thing he doesn’t want: Maikel’s attention. Arjen’s too pragmatic to refuse a paying customer, but Maikel doesn’t want his services. All he asks for is a bed, shelter, and a meal before bedtime.
Arjen’s reticence and open dislike intrigue Maikel, who’s delighted by the jaded young prostitute’s attitude, so different from the adoration he’s accustomed to. He’s never been a regular patron at any brothel, but now he can’t keep himself away. He still refuses Arjen’s services though, instead demanding Arjen tuck him in with tales of the daytime Amsterdam he hasn’t known for nearly two centuries. But when Arjen tries to seduce him into leaving, he realizes they’re forging something completely unfamiliar to him: emotional bonds. It’s equally obvious to Arjen that their arrangement is becoming more than either of them expected, and the thought terrifies him.
Vampires are shallow, fickle creatures, and Maikel could never truly love another—could he?
This is a novella from a new to me author but one that is rather addictive. As a fan of anything urban fantasy, I love any well done vampire book even if it’s just rehashing common themes. In this offering the themes are classic and well used with a slight twist but the dialogue and writing is engaging. The characters have tremendous potential and the world building is evocative. Unfortunately, likely due to the short length, this novella is empty and forgettable but still enjoyable and fun to read. The author clearly has potential and hopefully in a longer setting, that promise can be fulfilled in a suitable book.
Here a prostitute, Arjen, is the lone whore in the establishment that doesn’t fawn all over vampires. So of course, Arjen is the one chosen when Maikel the vampire picks a companion. The promise of money on a slow night convinces Arjen to put aside his feelings but he is surprised when Maikel only wants blood and a bed for the night. This starts a pattern for the two that eventually leads to an argument, leaving both men unhappy. They must put aside pride and deception to find if their feelings for each other are real or just a figment of their imagination.
The plot is a tried and true theme with the classic disinterested hero in a sea of worshipers. Most of the action that happens is told rather than shown so the developing emotional connection is mostly empty. The reader is told the story through Arjen’s first person, past tense perspective and so Maikel’s characterization is very limited. Their main interactions revolve around sexual tension which turns into sex but the tension is weak and diffuse since most of it occurs off page. The reader instead follows Arjen through this emotional days and nights, struggling with his growing attachment to the vampire. However, this developing emotion is also not demonstrated very well. Instead the reader is told how Arjen snaps at others and mopes, looking out the window. We don’t see Arjen doing this or that, so the connection and deeper angst is absent.
Furthermore the reason the vampire Maikel is attracted to Arjen doesn’t make much sense. There is nothing especially different about Arjen and Maikel’s insistence on wanting a night of peace is ridiculous. If he is so rich and wants to be left alone, why not buy a house and sleep alone? Going to a whore house is not exactly the most logical excuse to have an undisturbed night of peace. Additionally there is no particular detail or depth to differentiate this story as M/M versus M/F. If Arjen had been female, the exact same story and characterization could have occurred, well minus the second dick of course. Not to say this is necessarily bad, but it creates a somewhat bland story lacking a spark.
What did save this book are the hints of evocative prose and world building. The writing is somewhat decent, even if the characterization needs help, and the detail afforded the setting is rich in texture. The scenes where Arjen is explaining the bridge during the day or how the sun warmed his skin and left freckles, leap off the page and show the real strength of the author’s writing. The lyrical nature to these scenes is addictive and engaging. I was left wanting more of this description rather than a recitation of Arjen’s daily activities. Overall the brief glimpses I saw were enough to keep me interested in the story. The final offering is good with some parts bland and others engaging. I’d definitely give the author another try though and those who like vampire stories may enjoy this one.
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