Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 13, 2018
Received From: Review copy from the author
Andrew is a vampire from New Orleans, exiled to a tropical island in the 1800s as punishment for his human bloodlust. During a storm, a ship crashes off shore. After rescuing a sailor from the cannibals native to the land, Andrew becomes fascinated with his brilliant, beautiful new companion, Edmund.
Edmund is a British naturalist who has sailed the world seeking new species. Intrigued by creatures that might kill him, immortal Andrew is this scientist’s dream—but so is making his way back home. Edmund will fight to survive, even while wrapped in the arms of a monster.
As light touches and laughter turn to something much more passionate, the cannibals creep ever closer to Edmund. Can the ancient vampire keep his human alive long enough to escape exile and explore their newfound love, or will Andrew’s bloodlust seal his own doom?
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic
TROPES: immortal x human, instalust, age gap
TAGS: adult, historical, paranormal, romance, queer romance, queer characters
WARNINGS: anti-native (the people native to the island are the aggressors; “barbarian”), racism, open water, shipwreck, slurs, gendered slurs, physical injury, binary language, suicide mention, ableism, cissexism/anti-trans language (an erection called “something male”; “a man’s cock and balls”), dubious consent, violence, rape mention
While this story had the potential to be very interesting, even in such a short format as a novella, it unfortunately falls flat and comes with several problems.
The biggest issue with the book is the racism and anti-native sentiments in the novel. While it was certainly a prevalent thought in the time period, it seemed in particularly bad taste to make all the Natives on the island bloodthirsty cannibals. With the exception of the last two chapters, only Andrew and Edmund, the main character and love interest respectively, are white while every other character is a vicious cannibal with dark skin. The Natives are repeatedly referred to as monsters, as evil, and as soulless beings, which is…upsetting at best and dangerously harmful at worst. There’s so many different ways in which Bauer could’ve written this same plot without being potentially harmful to Native peoples.
And another aspect of the story that was cringeworthy in regards to race was that Edmund lists off several different ethnicities of people he’s slept with, as if naming things in a curiosities shop, as well as dropping lines like this:
“I was very popular as a society boy in London, but I always preferred the more…exotic.” His smile doesn’t lighten his eyes as usual. “Like Samuel.”
“The African on the ship was your lover?”
It’s in really poor tastes and treats people of color as possessions and oddities.
Another issue I had was with one of the sex scenes. It comes after Andrew has drank Edmund’s blood and then gone outside to slaughter all the Natives who were hunting Edmund. Once he does that, Andrew goes back inside the house and pretty much attacks Edmund, ripping his clothes off and forcibly fingering him. Andrew stops before he penetrates with his penis, and Edmund ends up encouraging him to continue, but the sex scene definitely starts with a shroud of dubious consent.
Also, “I was going to rape you when I first found you, but I didn’t!” isn’t sexy and should actually make Edmund run away.
The last thing isn’t so much a problem as just me being disappointed. The premise of the novel seems to promise a more bloodthirsty vampire in Andrew, but he’s downright domestic with Edmund pretty much from the start. There’s brief acknowledgement when he first finds Edmund that he’s going to drink his blood and kill him, but after spending a night or two Edward Cullen style, watching Edmund while he sleeps, Andrew turns mushy as fuck like right away. It just didn’t really jibe with what was expected, so I didn’t really engage.
I will continue with the second book because I received a review copy from the author, but I’m not really holding onto any hope.
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of The Escape Trilogy and Bite Somebody series, among others sexy things.
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