From the BLURB:
The Blakes are rather different to your usual neighbours. They are vampires and some of the members of the family date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange, is the only born female vampire known and, as such, she poses a direct threat to the vampire queen. Her best friend Lucy is human, and when Solange is kidnapped Lucy and Solange's brother, Nicholas, set out to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she would like to be more than just friends with Nicholas. But how does one go about dating a vampire? Meanwhile, Solange finds an unlikely ally in Kieran, a vampire slayer on the hunt for his father's killer.
‘Hearts at Stake’ (aka ‘My Love Lies Bleeding’) is a new young adult paranormal romance series from Alyxandra Harvey. ‘The Drake Chronicles’ revolves around a family of vampire aristocracy as they suffer the slings and arrows of vampiric politics and family feuds.
Helena and Liam Drake are the family patriarchs, with their seven rambunctious sons and one daughter. Solange is the youngest in the family, and also the miracle. She is the first vampire girl born in centuries, and as such there have been myths and legends surrounding her, particularly concerning her destiny as a vampire queen. But the current vampire queen, Natasha, isn’t too thrilled with the legend surrounding Solange, and so sets out to end her threat to the crown before Solange can turn fully vampire on her sixteenth birthday.
Helping Solange is her best (human) friend, Lucy. Together with Solange’s youngest brother (and Lucy’s immortal enemy) Nicholas Drake, this trio intend to see Solange survive her bloodchange and stare the queen down. . . until a bounty is put on the Drake’s heads and a vampire hunter called Kieran could tear their family apart.
“Solange doesn’t have any time left.”“I know,” I said quietly. “But she’s stronger than you think.”“Not during the bloodchange. She’ll be out cold.”“Even then,” I insisted stubbornly. “You don’t know her like I do.”“Lucy.” He looked beaten. “Listen, you have to face – ”“No,” I interrupted fiercely. “You listen. We will find her. We will save her. Period. Okay?” I blinked back tears, fighting the bubble of hysteria in my throat. “Okay?”He stepped closer, and I had to wipe my eyes so he wasn’t blurry.“Shh.” He touched my cheek gently. “Okay, Lucy. Okay.”
I really like the premise of Alyxandra Harvey’s series. Each book will change narrator and protagonist, as each Drake brother has his moment in the sun (so to speak) and finds their HEA. The Drake’s are like the Cullen’s, in so far as they are a peaceful and tight-knit vampire family living under threat from their more blood-thirsty relations. The bonus of the family-focus is that readers can begin an affinity for each brother (and their various charms and characteristics) and anticipate that brother’s narration.
Of course, this first book focuses on the only Drake sister, Solange, and her romance with the hunter Kieran. The book also tells the love story of Nicholas Drake as his arch-nemesis, Lucy, finds herself unwittingly falling for his many charms. . .
I do wish that ‘Hearts at Stake’ had focused on only one Drake romance. Because the book had two romances running simultaneously (narration is split between Lucy and Solange), it did feel as though Harvey couldn’t properly devote herself to either romance. . . For what it’s worth, I responded more to Lucy and Nicholas’s love story. Because theirs felt more well-rounded; we got the story of how they grew up together, hating each other, but in recent days that antagonism grew into something new and wonderful. . . I loved their bickering and both Lucy and Nicholas’s reactions to their new feelings.
I honestly didn’t pay much attention of Solange’s romance with vampire hunter, Kieran. It was a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss the attraction’. Solange and Kieran literally meet once and from there Solange decides she has a crush on him – huh? I think if Harvey had dedicated an entire book to Solange’s story, without veering off into Lucy’s side of things, then that romance could have worked. . . but writing the two stories in one just left Solange’s love affair hollow and incomplete.
I really like the ‘Drake Chronicles’ premise. This is a YA paranormal romance that readers can sink their teeth into with a wonderful family focus. But this first book didn’t do a whole lot for me – I wish the story had either concentrated on Solange or Lucy’s romance, but not both. I can see the potential, but it wasn’t really met in ‘Hearts at Stake’, sorry.