Broken Angels, $11.99, ISBN 978-0692638118
Paranormal Romance, 2016
Brooklyn Ann goes indie for her fourth installment of the Scandals with Bite series, so naturally I have to purchase this one in trade paperback while everyone else in the US and other favored countries can buy it for their Kindle devices. The price tag probably makes me more cranky than I would otherwise be, as His Ruthless Bite is, at the end of the day, an unexceptional and singularly forgettable read.
In this alternative historical setting, vampires walk among humans, but they are ruled by one boss in every territory, and the rules are that they cannot expose themselves or abuse humans. If you are a bad vampire, they exile you – which is to say, they dump you to become another Lord’s problem. I’m surprised nobody complained about this arrangement, but I suppose everyone just dumps everyone else in everyone’s background, and closes one eye so that the vicious cycle can continue. This can become an issue because the rogue vampires – as these outcasts are called – seem to have banded together to get back at Gavin. Worse, Gavin’s idea of security is to send his two henchmen to go track down these rogues, which seem like an unnecessarily inefficient way of doing things to me. A lot of the mess in this story is caused by all these inefficiency and lack of proper punishment system for rogue vampires.
Anyway, the story. Lenore Graves, a relatively young vampire, encountered Gavin Drake, the Lord Vampire of Darwood, in a previous book. She was tortured and abused by rogue vampires back then, and now she lays low while helping a human doctor heal the minds of his patients using amazing vampire hypnotic magic. Gavin thinks highly of Lenore’s courage and loyalty, however, so he decides that the best way to approach a woman who is still traumatized by abuse is to order her to marry him or else. I suppose I’m to melt into an orgasmic goo with such a display of alpha manliness, but in reality, I find Gavin’s tendency to think fondly of Lenore but treats her like he’s some furry and she’s a dog he’d really like to adopt and shag rather contradictory and even contrived; as if the author feels obligated to turn her hero into some alpha mule because that’s the only way that leads to dollar, dollar bills, even if Gavin would work better as a more gallant guy.
Fortunately, Gavin soon mellows once Lenore agrees to marry him – but in name only, as she doesn’t like being touched by dudes (although we all know she will soon be unable to resist the allure of the biggest vampire peen in town) – and he starts behaving more naturally in a way that reflects his actual feelings and thoughts better. He’s still one of those protective guys that cannot allow their women to leave the house without trailing after or sending a bunch of his male henchmen to protect her rear end, though, and yes, as you can guess, the bad guys still manage to kidnap the heroine anyway in the end. As I’ve said, these vampires can resemble third-world civil servants a little too much when it comes to their degree of efficiency and effectiveness, sigh.
The rest of the story is just as mundane. It’s all about Gavin showering Lenore with hot dresses, hotter caresses, and such, and Lenore discovering that she’s now the belle of the ball. Being so pretty and loved is clearly the best way to work away those rape and torture blues in a woman. I am momentarily excited when something out of the expected happens late in the story, but my excitement dies three times over when I realize this twist is just the way for the author to shoehorn a bad guy into a “redeemed at last” dude for an upcoming sequel… in a contrived, clumsy, and abrupt manner.
Much of His Ruthless Bite is composed of the same old vampire boss/emotionally distressed hapless wee willow romance clichés, so it is a yawner most of the time. Add in some clumsily shoehorned efforts to set up sequel baits, and this one totters more than it floats to the finish line. On the bright side, the narrative is clean and easy to read, and I like how there are some pretty good interactions between the heroine and some female characters. The last one is quite rare in a genre which often turns various secondary female characters, especially those that can pose a competition to the heroine for the hero’s affections, into whores and skanks as an easy way to elevate the heroine in the reader’s eyes. At any rate, despite what the title may suggest, this one is far more toothless than ruthless, so the bite ain’t all that.