Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #2
Length: 372 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: August 5, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
The Dowager Countess of Morley asks Vincent Tremayne, Lord Vampire of Cornwall, to become guardian of her American granddaughter. Vincent honors the agreement and plans to get his new ward married and off his hands as soon as possible.
When Lydia Price arrives, she soon turns Vincent’s gloomy castle upside-down, and he decides he wants Lydia for himself. But if Vincent can’t protect Lydia from her entanglement with scandalous portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, the vampire community will make sure that he—and Lydia—face dire consequences..
This is the second book in Brooklyn Ann’s Scandals with Bite series (after Bite Me, Your Grace, reviewed last week) and I liked this one better than the first. I now have high hopes for book 3, Bite at First Sight, which I have scheduled for next week.
The formula is very similar to the first book, but it has been tweaked just a bit in ways that minimize the number of misunderstandammits and make the characters fit more comfortably, at least for this reader, into the unconventional heroine meets brooding hero plot.
(OMG I just realized that Lydia Price marries Vincent. If this isn’t a play on the name of the late horror film actor Vincent Price, I’ll eat my (fictional) parasol.)
Returning to the work in hand, Lydia truly is unconventional, not just on the inside where it counts, but also in her background. Her parents married for love, which was unusual enough, but her father gave up his wealth and title to marry her commoner mother. His mother disowned him and any children he might have, and turned her aristocratic and autocratic back on the lot of them.
Lydia grew up in New Orleans, where her parents fled to make a fresh start. It was a happy family until both Lydia’s parents died of yellow fever just about the time that Lydia should have been looking for a husband.
Instead, the orphan is on her way to England, to the hopefully accepting arms of the only family she has left. Unfortunately for her, that family is her hateful grandmother. Fortunately for Lydia, her grandmother is so hateful that she essentially bargains Lydia off to an old family connection.
Once upon a time in the 1600s, Vincent Tremayne, Earl of Deveril, pledged an alliance with his best friend, who was then Lord Morley. Lydia’s grandmother is that Lord Morley’s descendant, and Vincent feels duty bound to harbor his old friend’s great-great-granddaughter. Because while Lord Morley is long dead and has had several generations of descendants, Vincent is the Lord Vampire of Cornwall, and is still very much alive.
But Lydia brings a lot more life to his lonely castle than he ever thought possible. And not just because he has to finally hire enough servants to keep the whole place functioning again, as well as retain a chaperone for Lydia to supervise her “coming out” Season in London.
Lydia’s American upbringing has made her a refreshing change from the mostly simpering debutantes who have nothing on their minds but snaring a titled husband, whether by fair means or foul.
Lydia rides, shoots, fishes and paints. Those first three make her an ideal Countess for the remote Cornish estate – but all Vincent sees is a young woman with a zest for life who couldn’t possibly fall for the monster that Vincent sees himself to be.
All that Lydia sees is a handsome, brooding man who lights up in her company and encourages her intellectually.
Vincent admittedly also sees a way of getting back at her grandmother by ensuring that Lydia makes a more favorable match than her cousin, the grandchild that the old lady favors because she has the poor chit under her thumb.
Vincent’s first salvo in that polite war is to hire the best chaperone in England to supervise Lydia right out from under her grandmother. Miss Hobson sees the Earl and his ward together and decides that the most brilliant match available to Lydia is the one that appears to be the one after Lydia’s own heart. Miss Hobson begins scheming, in her quiet but effective little way, to get Lydia and Vincent together.
(After all, Vincent IS an Earl. It is a very brilliant match!)
The London Season offers plenty of opportunities for Vincent to avoid the affection that is growing between himself and his ward. Duchess Angelica Ashton, wife of the Lord Vampire of London and heroine of Bite Me, Your Grace, sees plenty of opportunities for a little mischief and more than a bit of matchmaking.
Lady Morley sees a titled Lord that she can both steal from her commoner granddaughter and possibly bring under her own sway into the bargain. She has no idea what she is attempting to bite off.
Lydia just sees Vincent pulling away from the friendship that they established in Cornwall. No one sees the very real danger that stalks them all.
Escape Rating B: Because readers of the first book already know quite a bit about the vampires of England and their governance, this story is able to delve more into its characters and spend a bit less time on explaining everything.
I like Lydia as the heroine. Her unconventionality is organic to her story. She’s not rebelling against expections, she’s trying to figure out where she fits between the expectations that her parents raised her under and the much, much stricter set of rules that confine English young ladies of a certain class. The rules of life have changed right under her, and in the midst of very real grief, and she is learning her place in her new world.
Vincent believes that as a vampire, he is a monster. He feels guilty for living, for everything he does, and does not want to bring someone else, namely Lydia, into a life which he feels will crush her spirit as it has crushed his. At the same time, he is an excellent lord, and takes care of his people, both human and vampire, and does what is a very good best by them. Ian Ashton often sends those who have been damaged by the change to Vincent for supervision and healing, and their partnership in this regard is quite successful.
As much as Vincent falls in love with Lydia, and it is great to watch them slowly and carefully reach out for each other, while he is certain that anyone else would be better for her. He sincerely tries to find her a mortal husband. In the end, Lydia has to seduce him (with Angelica Ashton’s wardrobe) to get him to see the light. Even then, he’s still in the process of convincing himself that his selfishness will not harm Lydia, and he isn’t certain.
When the decision is taken out of his hands, it puts all of them into even more danger. Rash actions produce drastic results. And while this story does eventually come to its blissful happily ever after, it was also incredibly pleasing to watch Lydia give her disgusting grandmother the comeuppance that she so richly deserved.
One of the secondary characters in this story who has continually made my “curiosity bump” itch is Ian’s second, the scarred Spanish vampire Rafael Villar. I am looking forward to finally discovering his story in Bite at First Sight. I have high hopes that it will be even better than One Bite Per Night.