Review: Bite at First Sight by Brooklyn Ann + Giveaway

bite at first sight by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal historical romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #3
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 7, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

When Rafael Villar, Lord Vampire of London, stumbles upon a woman in the cemetery, he believes he’s found a vampire hunter—not the beautiful, intelligent stranger she proves to be.

Cassandra Burton is enthralled by the scarred, disfigured vampire who took her prisoner. The aspiring physician was robbing graves to pursue her studies—and he might turn out to be her greatest subject yet. So they form a bargain: one kiss for every experiment. As their passion grows and Rafe begins to heal, only one question remains: can Cassandra see the man beyond the monster?

My Review:

220px-Love_at_first_biteAs I finished up Bite at First Sight with a smile on my face, I found myself making a mental connection between the phrase, “love at first sight”, the title of the very tongue-in-cheek vampire romance movie, Love at First Bite, and finishing with the title of this third book in Brooklyn Ann’s Scandals with Bite series, Bite at First Sight.

The phrases and titles blend together in a kind of word game where you change or remove one word and get from A to B to C. And it all fits!

The amount of slightly campy humor that was injected into Love at First Bite fits right in with the Scandals with Bite series, even though this latest entry is a bit darker than the earlier pieces of fanged, fluffy fun in the series.

This one needed to be just a bit darker, so it works. I’ve also just realized that the story is a play on the “Beauty and the Beast” trope, and the darker tone works well for that, too.

This series uses the tried-and-true convention of matching an unconventional heroine with an even more unconventional hero, or possibly vice versa.

Cassandra Burton’s unconventionality is tied up into what she does, while for Rafe Villar is it part of what he is. The author definitely makes it work.

Cassandra was ahead of her time. She doesn’t merely want to become a physician, she is actively preparing herself for that role, in spite of a society that laughs at a woman who wants to go to medical school. (It’s the early 19th century, society laughs (and actively forbids) women from stepping out side a set of preconceived and limiting roles).

Like most of the would-be doctors in that era, her only way of studying human anatomy from the inside is to dissect corpses. Therefore, like many doctors of her era, Cassandra is forced into becoming an occasional graverobber.

bite me your grace by brooklyn annAnd that’s where Rafe comes into the story. After the events in Bite Me, Your Grace (reviewed here) and One Bite Per Night (likewise here) Rafe is now the interim Lord Vampire of London. There have been recent scuffles between vampires and hunters in London, and there are all to many vampires who believe that someone is disinterring recent graves in order to find more of their kind.

Rafe finds Cassandra in the midst of her body-snatching quest, only to discover two things – she’s not after his (or any) vampires and she’s one of the few people he can’t mesmerize. She’s immune to his power. But by the time he figures that out, it’s too late – he’s revealed that vampires exist, and that puts her under vampire house arrest until the mysterious Elders tell him what to do with her.

This is a kind of torture for both of them. Cassandra and Rafe have met before – Cassandra was one of Angelica Ashton’s friends long before Angelica became the Duchess of Burnrath (and a vampire herself). Rafe was Ian Ashton’s second-in-command during that rather messy courtship.

Cassandra has always been fascinated with Rafe, not because he’s quintessentially tall, dark and handsome, but because he isn’t. Rafe was horribly burned, and the doctor in Cassandra wants to repair the damage. He’s also quite striking, although handsome wouldn’t be the right word. Cassandra, a widow, has some other ideas of what Rafe could do to, or with, her that she tries not to reveal.

She just plain fascinates him, but he assumes that she couldn’t possibly be interested in someone as scarred and disfigured as he is.

Of course, they are both wrong, but it takes a long house arrest and a lot of shared danger for them to finally figure that out. When they do, it’s almost too late. Rafe’s enemies are using his tolerance for the all-too-human Cassandra as an excuse to stage a coup. And if the conspiracies don’t bring Rafe down, the Elders he has disobeyed just might.

Escape Rating A-: This series just keeps getting better. So much so that I really hope the author continues to explore this world where vampires meet the Regency. It’s a lot of fun.

I said that this book was darker than the first two, which definitely had a higher froth quotient. It’s darker because both protagonists have more pain and darkness is their own histories, and because the conspiracies and potential coup provide an underlying layer of dark deeds and betrayal that color the narrative.

Rafe is terribly scarred. He fought off a vampire hunter who attacked him during his daysleep, and was so intent on killing the crazed bastard that he followed the man outside into the sun to finish him off. The price was a scarred face and more importantly, a withered and dysfunctional left arm. People, including other vampires, see Rafe as crippled. Rafe seems to think that the scars only reflect his internal darkness. He sees pity or revulsion in people’s eyes, and he turns away, first and with rudeness, so that he doesn’t have to face them.

Cassandra wants to be a doctor, but in the society in which she lives, even her intellectual pursuits are frowned upon. She is used to hiding who she really is and what she really wants, or only associating with people who sympathize and understand. That she is a widow loosens some of the social strictures, but not enough. She is under scrutiny at every moment. In Rafe, she sees a personal and professional challenge. She wants to see if his arm can be repaired. She longs to discover if the hot dreams she has about him mean that he might possibly show her some of what she missed in her loveless marriage.

While they separately spend a lot of mental energy trying to stave off their mutual attraction, the reasons why they do so make sense. He neither believes in love, nor that anyone could possibly love his scarred self. Cassandra’s experience of what married life is like for a woman make her shy of shackling herself to anyone. Also she knows what Rafe is and can see that they have no future.

The political in-fighting in Rafe’s new dominion keeps the suspense level high. Cassandra does distract him, and he is new to the job. Also, he’s just plain new at the idea of managing anyone other than himself, and makes a whole lot of “new leader” mistakes. The underlying sense of privilege and prejudice that empower the leaders of the so-called revolution are properly disgusting. Their use of propaganda and whisper campaigning seems all too modern. They are good enough at being bad to be a serious threat to Rafe’s and Cassandra’s lives.

Cassandra finds a sphere in which she can finally be who she really is, providing she lives long enough to enjoy it. But Rafe is the one who really grows and changes during the story. He has to reach beyond his self-imposed isolation to discover that he has friends who will stand by him at any cost, and that he is capable of both inspiring loyalty and feeling it in return.

If the combination of paranormal and historical romance sounds like fun, this book proves that it really, really can be. Even better, this story can stand on its own, although once you’ve read it you’ll want to go diving into the previous books for the background.


Sourcebooks Casablanca is generously giving away 3 Scandals that Bite Book Bundles to lucky commenters on the tour. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to be entered!

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann

one bite per night by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
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..

My Review:

bite me your grace by brooklyn annThis 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.

bite at first sight by brooklyn annOne 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.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Bite Me Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann

bite me your grace by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #1
Length: 354 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 2, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

England’s “vampire craze” causes much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop without realizing she has hidden plans of her own.

Angelica Winthrop’s life goal is to ruin her reputation, avoid marriage, and become a gothic authoress like her idol, Mary Shelley. To find inspiration for her new story, she breaks into the home of Ian Ashton, Duke of Burnrath, not knowing she will be coming up against the Lord Vampire of London. Romance sparks and reputations are at stake. But who knows the real difference between fact and fiction?

My Review:

I thought that this story was a lot of fun, but at the same time it felt as if it was as much of a send up or spoof of Regency romances as it was a Regency romance with a paranormal twist.

Still, it’s a genuinely light-hearted and fun spoof, if you want to take it that way. And there is a happily ever after that is going to mean a lot more of that “ever after” than is usual.

However, the tension in the story came more from a series of misunderstandammits than I would have preferred. On that other hand, so many of those misunderstandings are the result of a general lack of knowledge and information on the heroine’s part about the nature and preferences of vampires, as well as her more typical lack of knowledge of men and the way the world works.

Young misses of the upper classes were supposed to be innocent of worldly knowledge. Vampire knowledge is kept secret, so of course she hasn’t much clue on that score.

It was terrific to see the interweaving of the real rise in supernatural fiction with Angelica’s introduction into the real life of vampires. This story takes place at the time when Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (the forerunner of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) were all the rage.

And causing London’s Vampire Lord to gnash his fangs in his search for Polidori, his inspiration, and which one of the London vampires betrayed their kind and exposed them to ridicule and possible discovery.

Because London’s Vampire Lord is also Ian Ashton, the Duke of Burnrath. He has a place in ton society that he doesn’t exercise much but does cause a lot of jealousy and resentment in certain quarters. Also, his eccentric life (no one ever sees him at night) makes him an easy target for anyone who wants to suggest he is a vampire. Which, of course, he is.

In this case we have both an unconventional hero and an unconventional heroine. Ian is a vampire who regularly leaves the country, and returns 50 years later as his own properly documented heir. Being the Vampire Lord of London is sometimes frustrating, but he’s also getting tired and bored. And Polidori’s story has him seething.

Angelica is a headstrong young society miss who does not want to marry and turn into a society drone. She wants to become an author like Mary Shelley or Jane Austen. Of course, she has no idea what she will be getting herself into. Her plan is to “ruin herself” with her behavior so that her parents (especially her overbearing mother), will stop pushing her to get married.

Because Angelica is fascinated with gothic horror stories, she decides to check out Ian’s London house, which is conveniently across the street from her own. She lets herself in during the day and starts hunting for a ghost. She expects to find lots of inspiration in Ian’s dusty estate.

Instead, Ian finds her. According to the rules of the day, simply being alone in his house with him without a chaperone is enough to ruin her. What she doesn’t expect is that Ian will decide that marrying a human woman will throw off the scent of the very real vampire hunters who are after him.

That Angelica had no thought that her parents would fall all over themselves to “leg-shackle” her to the man who ruined her, whoever he might be, is just one of the ways that Angelica’s naivete is so clearly (and frequently) displayed.

Verbally sparring with Angelica, who is well if unconventionally educated, makes Ian feel alive in more ways than just sexually. She is different in ways that make her a challenge as well as a delightful surprise.

But they don’t talk to each other about what is really going on. Not just that Ian is a vampire, but what that will mean. Or even that he truly enjoys her unconventionality, especially including her extreme forthrightness.

That lack of communication nearly wrecks their fledgling marriage. Even more important, it very nearly gets both of them killed.

Escape Rating C: I liked Ian and Angelica, and the premise of the story was good, but there were too many things that drove me bananas.

As much external tension as exists in this story between Polidori’s elusiveness, the vampire hunter, and the continuing speculation on whether or not Ian is a vampire, the author concentrated too much on Angelica’s and Ian’s communication problems, which were legion. Everything that goes wrong in their story comes down to eavesdropping, misunderstandings and a complete unwillingness to talk to each other about anything serious. While this may have been the actual pattern at this point in history, that the entire difficulty in the relationship comes down a giant misunderstandammit almost made me stop in the middle.

Both Angelica’s mother and her grandfather felt like cardboard cutouts instead of real characters. It’s not just that Angelica sees her mother as being stupid, but that she consistently acts that way. Her mother’s desire to get Angelica married off is logical. That she never sees her very unconventional daughter as the person she really is grated on this reader’s nerves. While our time period may have different goals at least some of the time, what her mother wanted was the right thing for that era. That she never figured out that she used the wrong arguments and persuasions every single time made me cringe.

Angelica’s rich grandfather was just a nasty and overbearing bully. And creepy.

With all of the family drama going on, the introduction of a real bloodthirsty vampire hunter into this mix felt over-the-top. That one of Ian’s vampires was able to defy him and deceive him over Polidori also didn’t fit with the descriptions of how much vampires were obedient and beholden to their local lord. That the female vampire in question was as naive as Angelica, if not more so, made no sense.

This story had a lot of interesting ideas that didn’t quite gel for me. Your mileage may vary.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.