ARC Review: A Blood Seduction (Vamp City #1) by Pamela Palmer
Quinn Lennox accidentally wanders through a portal into Washington D.C.’s dark side (literally) while searching for a missing friend, and finds herself trapped in an alternate reality where vampires rule and humans live to serve… and die. Vamp Arturo Mazza saves her from certain death at the hands of the first V.C. denizens she meets, and a strange dance of capture, escape, betrayal, secrets, and manipulation ensues. Who can Quinn truly trust, and is she prepared to do whatever is necessary to save herself and her brother? A Blood Seduction is a worth a look!
- Title: A Blood Seduction
- Series: Vamp City #1
- Author: Pamela Palmer
- Prominent Characters: Quinn, Arturo, Zach
- Recommended Reader Age: 16+
- Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, dystopian
- Sexual Content Level: light-to-medium
This review will have some plot spoilers, although hopefully not major ones, because I’m finding it difficult to express why I felt certain ways about the book without referencing specific aspects that reveal more of the story’s content than I normally like in a review.
If you prefer to see zero spoilers, just skip ahead to the Final Thoughts area.
Being such an avid fan of the Feral Warriors series, I was really looking forward to reading A Blood Seduction. A new vampire series from one of my favorite shifter series authors? Hell, yeah! I was all set to devour this book and rave about it for weeks; I usually enjoy Ms. Palmer’s style that much.
However, I realized pretty early on that this wasn’t going to be a marquee story for me. It was only last month I read, and felt the same way about, Julie Kagawa’s new vamp series starter The Immortal Rules. Apparently, dystopian urban fantasies are just not my thing, vampires or no. Light, humorous, sometimes glamorous, and always guaranteed to have a fully Happily Ever After… now that I can get behind. (Note to self: no more oppressive UF for you, missy!)
The setting is Washington V.C. (Vamp City), an exact replica of the real Washington D.C… in 1870. Only this version is in perpetual twilight and is falling to ruin as the magic that created and maintains it fails.
The tone of this book is dark. It is gritty and it is sobering. Even though I felt compelled to keep reading, I did not enjoy spending time in Vamp City. All my instincts were screaming “No! Get out! Run the other way!”, like watching one of those horror flicks where you know bad things are coming and you can’t do anything about it. The paranormal creatures in V.C. are not sweet, romantic, or even sympathetic. Vampires are truly monsters and humans are lowly slaves – food, entertainment, and labor. These vamps do not even feed off lust, as far as we know so far, only pain and fear.
That’s not to say I didn’t find some overall enjoyment in the book, but it didn’t have that same pizazz the Feral books have. No sense of brotherhood or teamwork, no safe haven to return to when the fighting is done, no roiling intensity between the main characters.
I also had misgivings about the main male character (I hesitate to call him a protagonist). While I felt lulled into liking Arturo (and I actually did mostly like him), I most definitely did not trust him, and his allegience was made painfully clear on several occasions. There was something off about him, something that made me not WANT to like him, as if he’d betray “us” at a crucial moment, and that is a strange place to be… liking, but not wanting to like, the hero. I’m not completely sure that was the intended reader reaction to the book’s most prominent male character, who is obviously intended as Quinn’s love interest. I liked Kassius, a secondary character, more than Arturo, and that’s a little disturbing to me.
Quinn on the other hand was both relatable and frustrating. Why do heroines like to repeat the same mistakes? Don’t they watch the movies they’re doomed to live out? I understand her drive to save her brother but I don’t think she went about it smartly, wandering around without a solid plan in an incredibly dangerous environment. The sexual chemistry also felt off, compared to the blazing passion most of Ms. Palmer’s shifter couples have, and I wonder if that was partly due to the disconnect with Arturo. Even considering that, the sex scenes felt a little mechanical, almost forced, and the circumstances leading to the big one were suspiciously engineered.
I think part of my discomfort with the story arc was that the heroine was essentially powerless for the majority of the book. She fumbles through and manages to stay alive and get the information she needs, but other characters constantly had to come to her rescue. I think once she really starts to embrace her power, I’ll enjoy the series more. I need my ladies to be able to kick a little ass, if you know what I mean.
So that’s a whole lot of what I DIDN’T like. Here’s the silver lining…
Pamela Palmer is a talented author with a knack for dropping her audience right into the characters’ heads. We see what they see and feel what they feel, even understand tiny nuances of their personalities. The setting, Vamp City, is excruciatingly real-feeling. The cruelties, the suffering, the excesses, the decay… all is depicted efficiently and creatively, with a minimum of unnecessary excess flourish. The supernatural creatures were distinctly otherworldly in their morals and customs, and the depths of the suffering of the human slaves was agonizingly clear yet intriguingly complex. I imagine lovers of dystopian and dark fantasy will probably eat this up.
Zach, Quinn’s brother, was also a highlight for me. I loved his innocent, geeky, gamer boy persona and his sensitive heart. His journey touched me the most and I’m really looking forward to seeing where his path leads next.
Scary way to wake up…
“You worry about another when you are tied to my bed?” He smiled, revealing sharp, twin incisors. “At my mercy.”
And that is what makes Vamp City so dangerous, and so unyielding…
“There has to be another way for him to feed.”
Arturo shrugged. “This is the way he prefers.”
“Because he’s a psychopath. And a sadist.”
“Because he is a vampire who long ago disposed of his conscience.”
Someone give this man an Xbox controller!
Zach gripped the wooden hilt, a frisson of excitement fizzing inside him. A real battle. If only he had a serious weapon, like a laser gun or a light saber, he’d take them all down, vampires included, chopping off their heads left and right.
The essence of Arturo…
He made her feel soft and excited, warm and unsatisfied. At once marvelously content and thoroughly frustrated on so many levels. He was stubborn and unbending and yet… sweet. Loving. And what strange, strange words to attribute to a vampire.
Unfortunately not just a truth in V.C., but in some areas of our own world…
They’d taken too much from them – lives, freedom, loved ones. They’d been tortured repeatedly, whether they remembered each instance or not. And had been made to suffer in God only knew how many ways. They couldn’t strike out at the ones they hated, so they struck out at the ones they could. It was wrong. Horribly unfair. And sadly inevitable.
If you liked A Blood Seduction…
If you enjoyed A Blood Seduction for its dark urban fantasy style, with nasty vamps and humans in serious need of rescuing, check out Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series, starting with The Immortal Rules. Both have a strong female protagonist, a wandering journey of a plotline, and set up what promises to be a memorable series.
If you’d like to experience more of Ms. Palmers addicting style and steamy romances, check out her Feral Warriors series, starting with Desire Untamed. These shifters are stubborn, strong, warriors willing to die for the Therians they protect every night in their unending war against the draeden. They’re also pretty damn sexy and know more than a thing or two about seducing their women.
Even though the characters and storyline were very frustrating at times, I felt like A Blood Seduction was setting the stage for an explosive confrontation down the line, and I’m interested to see how everything plays out, particularly Arturo’s questionable loyalties and Quinn’s true depth of power. If scary vamps and gritty, dark urban fantasy are your thing, you will probably enjoy this book. If you like more light-hearted HEAs, maybe skip this for now and pick up something less depressing and, well, less full of evil, then come back and do a one-two read when the sequel comes out.
Rating: A Blood Seduction