Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-388-3
Ha, ha, you know, it does me good to read stories like Keith Melton’s Blood Vice once upon a while. Perhaps it’s due to the male perspective, perhaps it’s because guys don’t get hung up over tedious little details about how a “good” romance heroine should behave, but I like reading stories like Blood Vice where the main characters, including the heroine, are allowed to let their hair down and paint the town red with their brand of mayhem.
Karl Vance is a vampire hitman who views the people he comes in contact with (his marks, for example) as fair game for food. He doesn’t like killing innocent people, so it makes sense in a way for him to happily become a bad guy in order to feed on other bad guys. Makes sense, no? His employer’s daughter, Maria Ricardi, is from all appearances Daddy’s little girl, but she is actually determined to show everyone, including her father, that she’s capable of running the family business now that her brother had died at the machinations of a rival mob family. If having her discovering his vampire nature isn’t complication enough, Karl learns that his old enemy is back in town and this fellow, Alejandro Delgado, isn’t above using Maria as a way to settle the score. And then we have the usual turf war dramas, vampire politics, women with big guns, and other fun stuff to make sure that this one doesn’t have a dull moment.
Karl is as far from the typical vampire hero in the usual romantic urban fantasy romances as can be. Then again, this one may have a romance, but I suspect that readers who are looking for urban fantasy, as opposed to the usual Sherrilyn Kenyon-style soap opera, will have a better time with this one because Blood Vice is a fun story that feature two characters whose morals are… well, pretty grey. Maria and Karl don’t spend time wallowing in guilt over the sins they have done, for example. In fact, Maria does a few things here that break the Good Heroine Code of Conduct in the romance genre, and I really like that. There is no annoying whiny self-loathing, no guilt, nothing of that sort – this one is a charming fast-paced and action-packed tale that allows the bullets to fly free and the blood to flow without the author getting worried whether the story is or isn’t conforming to some bestselling romantic urban fantasy formula.
I like Blood Vice and I am definitely interested in taking another trip to this world that Mr Melton has created.