by Barbara Sheridan and Anne Cain, fantasy (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $6.10, ISBN 978-1-59578-361-5

Alliances is the official conclusion of the Dragon's Disciple trilogy although I believe the authors intend to continue writing stories set in this setting. But if you are new to the series and you want to read it, do yourself a favor and start with at least Silk And Poison first. This story reprises many of the same characters from The Dragon's Disciple so you may want to read the review of that book first to catch up with me.

Where we last left off, the vampire Dao Kan Shu and his toyboy Ken Ohara are living together as happy as yaoi couples can be when there are a few sequels coming off. Which is to say, Dao Kan Shu throws a fit, Ken acts like a drama queen, a few things fly across the room - in other words, everything is good. However, the arrival of Liu Sakurai, last seen in Blood Brothers, is just the start of the many troubles appearing in paradise. Sakurai easily comes between Ken and Dao Kan Shu. Throughout all this, the witch Jaya is offering both vampires their heart's desire, provided that they can price the high price she is asking in return. Oh, and there is also some ChildsPrey crossover moments, although, to my disappointment, it's not anything like those annoying girly boys being trapped in the same room as a hungry vampire.

I find that Alliances never really get started for me until the late third or so of the book. For too long, I am treated with soap opera moments involving Ken, Liu Sakurai, Dao Kan Shu, and Kiyoshi that only remind me why too many yaoi movies drive me up the wall: too much exaggerated drama over everything. Ken begins pouting more than the lead pretty boy in a Korean soap opera while Dao Kan Shu and Liu Sakurai duke it out to be bad-ass yaoi boyband vampires of the year. The only way I can sit through without rolling my eyes excessively is by envisioning these people as chibi types pulling at each other's hair and making cute angry monkey noises.

It is only in the late third or so when Jaya plays a bigger role in the story that these emo fellows have to think of something apart from their personal angsts. It is this part where I have a really great time. For a long time Liu's excessive posturing makes me cringe, but I must admit, that closing scene with him has me almost sighing at the drama of it all.

Also, despite my far from enthusiastic response to the soap-operatic early parts of this story, I think Alliances actually makes a fitting conclusion to the story of Dao Kan Shu and his pretty boyfriend. There have been strong, if often excessive, tempestuous emotions and melodramatic posturing, but throughout it all, I find myself liking the main characters more than I'd expected. Even Liu here nearly makes me forget the cringe-inducing melodrama that is Blood Brothers. There are some loose ends here that I find myself actually caring to find out the answer to, as well. Whether I like it or not, it looks like the authors have sneakily created a most intriguing world and tell a good story in the process, so I'm going to be on board this train for a little longer.

Rating: 80

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