Sunday, May 30, 2010
'Soul Mates: Bound by Blood' #1 by Jourdan LANE
From the BLURB:
Houston nightclub ‘Rave’ is famous for nearly-naked male dancers and beautiful bartenders, like Peter, a young man with a strict rule about one-night stands. He breaks that rule for Lucien, the owner of ‘The Den’, a rival gay nightclub where there are no boundaries, no taboos. Anything goes at The Den, including vampires.
When Peter finds out about Lucien’s vampire nature, he figures he should have stuck to his rule, because Lucien pulls him into a dark world of vampires, werewolves and feuding in-laws. No one approves of the human vampire match, and Peter and Lucien have to struggle to stay together. Can they beat the forces that will try to tear them apart forever?
The front cover is a little scary (is it just me or do they look like mannequins or Jason from ‘Halloween’?) and I was wary of the cheap look of this book. But I read a stellar review from Elizabeth (of ‘Moonlight to Twilight’ blog fame) so I was willing to overlook my initial scepticism.
Straight away, I’ll say this is vampire M/M erotica – and all that that entails. Expect gratuitously filthy-hot sex scenes, somewhat two-dimensional characters and convenient plot points. It was a good thing I was in the mood for some M/M smut, or else I may have lost my patience with this book. As it was, I accepted ‘Bound by Blood’ for what it is – a good, dirty romp; the reading equivalent of fairy-floss, not particularly filling but enjoyable nonetheless...
At times it feels as though Jourdan Lane’s homosexual men are more stereotypes than characters. For instance; bartenders, Jack and Mike, are long-term partners, but still have an ‘open-relationship’, which includes frequent romps with Peter... because Jack, Mike and Peter are all best buddies. Peter also (and all his bartender friends) pick up ‘strays’, one-night-stands whenever they can get them.
It just felt a little clichéd at times. The old maxim that gay men don’t do monogamy, and don’t have friends so much as ‘fuck buddies’. I gave some slack to Ms. Lane because her characters are working in a nightclub where go-go boys wear white thongs, and to a certain extent bartenders (more than gay men) are prone to being stereotypes. But still, it would have been equally nice to throw in one gay character who wasn’t a walking punch-line.
Lucien and Peter get off to a rocky start. Lucien all but sexually assaults Peter in a weird dreamscape, leaving Peter on edge and afraid of his own shadow. After that ‘encounter’ I was really wondering if this book was for me...
His hand wrapped around my painfully hard shaft and began stroking.
“You can’t really be here,” I whispered, shaking my head. “You’re not real.”
“I assure you that I am, indeed, real.” He growled, tightening his hand.
“Then what are you?” I was struggling to keep the hitch out of my voice. I knew he was a vampire, but if he was here with me, he had to be more.
“I could be your worst nightmare.” He nipped hard at my neck and I cried out. “Or I can be the one to make all your dreams come true. That, my love, is up to you.”
But my initial concerns were put aside once Peter and Lucien’s relationship got underway.
It is a very helter-skelter partnership. Jourdan Lane does, to an extent, take the easy way out by summarizing Lucien and Peter’s dinner dates rather than writing scenes... and then conveniently saying that they had ‘grown close’. From there the relationship evolves very quickly, and it’s not long before Lucien is inviting Peter to live with him.
I did like Lucien and Peter. It was a little frustrating that even when they admitted their feelings for one another, Lucien’s blood-taking meant he couldn’t be entirely monogamous... and because of that Lucien doesn’t put restrictions on Peter’s fidelity. They have ‘boundaries’ when having sex with other people, and a line they will only cross with each other... but there was still a traditionalist part of me that wished Lucien and Peter had been more territorial with one another, and insistent on monogamy. Maybe it’s just that Laurell K Hamilton has ruined orgies and multiple-bed-partners for me, but that was one aspect of Lucien and Peter’s relationship that I wish had been more exclusive. Though I will admit that your level of discomfort with their ‘open relationship’ depends on how you like your vampires – if you think that are territorial beings that ‘mate’ like animals, or if you prefer them to be lusty and hedonistic.
Regardless, I did like Peter and Lucien. They are H-O-T. And a lot of their heat has to do with Jourdan Lane’s prolific sex scenes. ‘Bound by Blood’ is M/M vampire erotica - so there is a lot of smutty sex... a *lot*. It’s not anything that prevalent M/M readers would be particularly shocked by, but it is gratuitous. Hot as all get out, and a joy to read, but there’s a lot. And I admit that I did blush at a few particularly descriptive and inventive scenes.
One thing I really liked about ‘Bound by Blood’ was Jourdan Lane’s obvious awareness of the vampire-hype she is writing in. Lane doesn’t delve particularly deep into her fictional ‘world’. Peter casually mentions having visited a vampire bar once, but doesn’t clarify for the reader when vampires ‘came out of the coffin’ or what the political atmosphere is surrounding the fanged. It just is. I liked that – we learn bits and pieces about the vampire ‘council’ and governing body, and how unpopular the vampire population of Houston are with the police – but beyond that Lane understands that her readers are probably well-versed in vampire mythology and Urban Fantasy and can make up their own back-stories.
My biggest complaint about ‘Bound by Blood’ was Lucien’s characterisation. I know that Jourdan Lane is writing smutty erotica and I can’t expect her to pen the next great American novel. But so much of the story is focused around Lucien being Houston’s Master Vampire and how out-of-character it is for him to take a human lover. But I really struggled to believe Lucien’s age and Master vampire status.
Lucien is 400+ years old; in his human life he was a French nobleman knight. But Lucien bandies about quite a bit of slang, words like ‘cool’ and ‘babe’, he’ll say “what’s up?” and “the fuck you say?”. Apart from throwing in an occasional ‘mon amour’ or ‘je t’aime’, Lucien also never quite reached a believable continental voice. Overall, Lucien just didn’t have that ‘presence’ - the pull of power and fright that I've come to associate with ‘Master vampires’. Put it like this; Lucien is no Eric Northman, Jean-Claude or Mencheres. If it wasn’t for everyone around him *saying* he was the ruler of Houston, I wouldn’t have believed it.
‘Bound by Blood’ is vampire M/M erotica. Jourdan Lane certainly lives up to her ‘erotica’ genre, her book including some of the smuttiest M/M smut I have ever had the devious pleasure of reading. BUT she is writing erotica and as a result her characters are quite wooden, underdeveloped and unbelievable. But once you accept the inherant flaws, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy ‘Bound by Blood’ for what it is – a dirty but enjoyable read.