Spirit Sanguine (Sanguine 01), by Lou Harper
Genre: MM Romance, Paranormal, Contemporary
Is that a wooden stake in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
After five years in Eastern Europe using his unique, inborn skills to slay bloodsuckers, Gabe is back in his hometown Chicago and feeling adrift. Until he’s kidnapped by a young, sexy vampire who seems more interested in getting into his pants than biting into his neck.
Harvey Feng is one-half Chinese, one-hundred-percent vampire. He warns Gabe to stay out of the Windy City, but somehow he isn’t surprised when the young slayer winds up on his doorstep. And why shouldn’t Gabe be curious? A vegetarian vampire isn’t something one sees every day.
Against their better judgment, slayer and vampire succumb to temptation. But their affair attracts unexpected attention.
When Chicago’s Vampire Boss makes Gabe an offer he can’t refuse, the unlikely lovers are thrust into peril and mystery in the dark heart of the Windy City. Together they hunt for kidnappers, a killer preying on young humans, and vicious vampire junkies.
However, dealing with murderous humans and vampires alike is easy compared to figuring out if there’s more to their relationship than hot, kinky sex.
A queer sort of slayer?
Having books given to you to review is fascinating; you get to read authors you otherwise wouldn’t come across. I have been such a resolute British reader (native and relocated) that clearly I’ve missed out on loads of really great books and authors. Lou Harper was completely new to me before starting this, and I specifically didn’t do any research on her or Sanguine beforehand.
Sprit Sanguine is really three novellas published as one book. They pretty much flow seamlessly from one to the other, but allow a feeling of time elapsed – although the events in the books do happen spatially close together.
Gabor (Gabe) Vardas has returned to Chicago from the ‘old country’ – Hungary, where, since the death of his parents, he discovered he was a vampire hunter and plans to continue this career path in America. But one evening while pursuing a vampire the tables are turned.
Harvey Feng is not what Gabe has come to expect from a vamp, for a start he doesn’t try and kill him, and secondly he is beautiful. Harvey, when human, was a vegetarian and a Buddhist and still lives by those ethics.
Gabe starts to discover that American vamps are very different from their Hungarian counterparts. This, plus his growing attraction and sexual relationship with Harvey, start him reassessing his slayer stance and attitude towards vampires.
The secondary characters have a chance to develop as well. Ray, Stan, and Dill – a vamp-human ménage – are key in the first part of the book, in terms of increasing our understanding of Harvey, vampryric culture, and a plotline involving Dill’s (the human) kidnapping. The heads of the Chicago vamps, in a nice Mafioso twist, are Sylv, a 1000 year old gypsy, and Victor Augustine. They are both strong characters; I particularly liked Sylv’s hippy-chick attitude. Another stand-out character is Deacon (aka Dead Man, yes he does really sense dead people), and I found him worthy of his own plot. Happily, after reading, I looked into the author and her books, and my research shows that he does get his own book.
But Gave and Harvey are the stars if the show. Atypically for a vampire romance, there is no instant love; no ‘mine, mine, mine’, but a gradual and thoughtful development toward something that could be more.
Now, though there are obvious Buffy parallels here with the slayer and vamp relationship, not to mention that Harvey’s pet name for Gabe is Angel, the ‘opposites attract’ plot line always makes for scintillating romance. There is also some lovely, subtle world-building going on; the paranormal culture and hierarchy develop really well without being overwhelming. The non-romantic story lines are interesting, well written, and evenly paced, which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read when combined with the romance.
Throughout, Harper’s writing is clear and readable while keeping the tone of Spirit Sanguine from becoming too heavy. There are funny moments; Harvey, in particular, has his tongue firmly in his cheek. “And you just happened to have six very sharp wooden sticks on you. Or were you just happy to see me?”
The free short, Late Night Snack (see below), is also worth reading and acts as a hors d’oeuvre for the next book, Tempest Sanguine, which I am really looking forward to when it’s released in early June.
Publisher and Original Publication Date: Samhain Publishing, 30th April 2013
Formats Available: paperback, pdf, mobi, epub
Length: 298 pages
Reviewed by: Karen
Author’s Website:Lou Harper
Late Night Snack takes place after Spirit Sanguine.
Sometimes life takes strange turns. Gabe is a slayer but his lover is a vampire. And so is his boss. When Gabe is tasked with capturing a delinquent blood sucker, he’s determined to succeed, even if it means posing as bait. There is only one problem: Harvey, his possessive boyfriend, might ruin everything.