Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Penton Legacy, #1
Length: 371 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date Released: June 12, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
The world’s vampire population is on the brink of starvation since the vaccine to treat a global pandemic rendered human blood deadly to them. Their only hope for survival is a handful of rural areas that the vaccine never breached. The tiny town of Penton, Alabama, is one such enclave, where the immortal Aidan Murphy has established a community of vampires and their willingly bonded humans. Together, they live in peace—until Aidan’s estranged brother descends upon the town and begins attacking its humans. Whether the rampage is a result of his centuries-old feud with Aidan or the civil war threatening to erupt in the vampire world matters not. All that matters is the blood. Desperate to save his adopted family, Aidan breaks one of his cardinal rules, kidnapping an unvaccinated human doctor—and unexpectedly falling in love for the first time in nearly four hundred years.
The major drawback with eternal life seems to be eternal politics…at least if you’re a vampire. Live and let live does not seem to be part of the personality that survives the change, or at least part of the personality of those that survive changing.
Nor, it seems, do the bonds of family or brotherly love. At least not the family you’re born to. The family you make seems to be something else altogether. Susannah Sandlin’s Penton Legacy series is very much about the bonds a person (or vampire) takes by choice being much stronger than the bonds of blood.
Aiden Murphy is the vampire mayor of Penton, Alabama. Now there’s a strange concept. He’s also a 400-year-old Irish farmer. Of course he’s a vampire. Which doesn’t negate either of the other two things. Aiden has turned away from just a hunter and a killer. Penton really is a town, in every sense of the word. His vampires cooperate with the humans among them. He could enthrall and enslave them, but Aiden believes it’s better to work together, and so does every vampire in his scathe. All 50 of them. And their entire human community are volunteers.
Having a scathe of 50 warriors may make Aiden the most powerful master vampire in North America. His community is a threat to the Vampire Tribunal, or it may be a way for all of them to survive, if they can get their heads out of their aristocratic asses and see the humans as partners instead of prey.
All some of them see is a rare feast after a vampire pandemic. Humans suffered a worldwide epidemic, which they cured with a vaccine. Humans aren’t aware that the vaccine rendered human blood poison to vamps. Very few humans are not vaccinated–think polio. Vampires are starving worldwide.
Except in Penton. All of the human members of Aiden’s little paradise are vaccine-free. They’re protected.
Until the Tribunal sends Aiden’s long-lost (and well-lost) brother Owen to destroy the community and kill Aiden. Killing Aiden will release his protection and provide a fresh banquet for all those starving vamps.
The first casualty of this war between brothers is the town doctor. His replacement: a woman who holds the key to Aiden’s locked-up heart, but only if he breaks all the rules he has come to live by.
And only if she dies first.
Escape Rating B+: First of all, this book was just plain fun. I not only read it straight through, but immediately started the second book in the series, Absolution, the instant I finished it. So far, the series is absolutely terrific vampire toffee. I’ve bitten into it and I can’t unstick myself.
Dr. Krystal Harris is the kidnapped doctor heroine. The romance between Krys and Aiden contains more than a touch of Stockholm Syndrome! She’s kidnapped and falls in love with her kidnapper. Just because it gets “lampshaded” doesn’t make it not be there. And Krys was abused by her father, which was the explanation for why she had no confidence in herself and no friends. It felt like just one tick too much tragedy in her background. YMMV. And she and Aiden seemed to be set up for the “fated mate” trope into the bargain.
But I enjoyed their story so much that I completely overlooked all of it and went along for the ride. Aiden and Krys are two very wounded people who actually do belong together. They both resisted falling for each other in ways that were hot to watch/read.
And the set up of the community of Penton along with the worldbuilding as a whole were terrific. The idea that if there were vampires, they wouldn’t want us to know (of course) and they would or would not adjust to changes in the world. Aiden’s cooperative model vs. the Tribunal’s coercive operation. I could see why the people who chose to live in Penton would make those choices.
Also, the characters of the rest of Aiden’s scathe were worth reading about, and not just the vamps who are the heroes of the next books in the series. 400 years plus gives a person a lot of time to develop some serious quirks.
Susannah Sandlin is the alter-ego of Suzanne Johnson, the author of Royal Street and River Road (reviewed here and here) She’s definitely worth reading whether she’s writing about vampires in Alabama or ghosts and witches in New Orleans!