Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review: Vampire Claus by Robert Winter

Vampire Claus
’Twas the night before Christmas, but what’s stirring is a little more dangerous than a mouse.

Taviano is nearly two hundred years old and never wakes in the same place twice. Weary and jaded, the vampire still indulges in memories of childhood Christmases in Naples. He lingers in shadow, spying on mortals as they enjoy the holiday.

When Taviano spots a handsome young man in Boston loaded down with presents and about to be mugged, he can’t help but intervene. Soon he’s talking to joyous, naïve, strong-willed and funny Paul, a short-order cook who raised funds to buy Christmas presents for LGBTQ children. Before he knows what’s happened, Taviano is wrapped up in Paul’s arms and then in his scheme to get the presents delivered by Christmas morning.

A vampire turned into a Christmas elf… What could go wrong?

Todd's rating:

Total cover crush here, folks. I'll admit it. So imagine my delight when the story from this new-to-me author turned out to be good as well.

At 22, Taviano was turned into a vampire against his will and had since roamed the earth for nearly two centuries, never spending more than a single night in the same place. He saw himself as a monster, so he had resigned himself to his nomadic existence, which was more than he felt he deserved.

And then he met, funny, charming, and eternally-upbeat 24 y.o. Paul, who'd been disowned by his family, yet still was somehow a caring, generous soul. He was also brave, bordering on stupidly so.

Upon learning Taviano's vampiric secret, Paul only wanted to get closer to the man who'd both rescued him from being mugged and saved Christmas for a group of LGBT kids living in a shelter. Taviano may have seen himself as a devil, but Paul saw him as being his angel.

The third character in this story was Taviano's "bloodbeast", with its unending, uncontrollable, unquenchable thirst for blood and carnage. I loved how the bloodbeast was "a thing" living inside Taviano, always fighting for dominance, like a dangerous parasite that must be fought and kept on a tight leash.

I'd never read quite that take on vampire lore before, so I found this new setup quite refreshing. Especially when, as the story progressed, we were shown that there was both forethought and purpose to at least some of Taviano's bloodbeast's actions. Mindless killing machine? Possibly. But there was definitely more there, too.

I absolutely adored the easy connection between Taviano and Paul. They were both great characters, but we do learn a bit more about Taviano, as the story is told entirely from his point of view.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the big, "Oh Shit, We All Gonna Die" danger scene toward the end of the book and how unpredictable it turned out, refusing to take the path generally traveled in most of the vampire tales that I'd previously read.

The story immediately grabbed my attention and kept it, only ramping up my interest for what I considered a very strong finish.

This was definitely an insta-love situation, but I didn't mind, as their developing emotions felt believable, plus, the story was fairly sexy, but didn't come across as gratuitous.

If I had to point out one downfall, I'd probably have to say that some of Paul's use of language did cause my eyes to roll on occasion, when he got a bit too "Obscure Urban Dictionary 2017 Edition" for my tastes.

But overall, I loved this one. I'd rate it at around 4.25 stars and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a tale of both Christmas and blood sucking. And a hot cover, I mustn't forget that. ;- )

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