Sunday, November 29, 2009
Beneath the glitter of dazzling Nineteenth-Century London Society lurks a bloodthirsty evil...
Vampires have always lived among them, quietly attacking unsuspecting debutantes and dandified lords as well as hackney drivers and Bond Street milliners. If not for the vampire slayers of the Gardella family, these immortal creatures would have long ago taken over the world.
In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy and this time Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the edge of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her duty. And when she comes face-to-face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make a choice between obligation and love...
I simply devoured this series - I loved, loved, loved it! Thank God for Kindle, because it made it so easy for me to just quickly buy the next book in the series and read it immediately! First off, I thought the covers were gorgeous! Aren't they? *scroll down to see pretty covers*
I was instantly smitten with the story of young Victoria Grantworth who is making her debut in Regency England. Only 20 years old she learns at the same time that she is a Venator. She comes from a long line of vampire killers, also known as Venators, it is her destiny and duty to take on this mantel to kill vampires and protect humans. She embraces the idea and doesn't mind it at all, except for when it means that she's going to have to keep it a secret from the Marquess of Rockley, the new man in her life that she is falling in love with and means to marry.
I loved Rockley. He was kind, handsome, gentle, noble - everything I wanted for Victoria. I wanted them to be a happy couple and hated the idea that she had to drug him and keep her secret life from him. I was also afraid that he would play right into the vampires hands and they'd use him against her, and naturally, that is exactly what happens. Her dear Aunt Eustacia prepares her for the possibility, but Victoria is still new at this and doesn't believe it. Max Pesaro, an enigmatic fellow Venator who's very good at scowling and showing his disapproval thinks Victoria is much too flighty to be a Venator and he warns her too that she can't have both. There is no way she can live a double life as a marchioness and as a Venator - inevitably she will have to choose - or the choice will be made for her against her will.
I screamed in agony over the ending of this can't put down book and I eagerly loaded up the next on my kindle!
The Gardella Vampire Chronicles continue as the glorious 19th-Century city of Rome gives rise to a new threat from the immortal undead....
Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy has been a vampire slayer for just over a year, balancing her life as a peer of Society with the dangerous role that takes her out on moonlit streets, stake in hand. She has learned brutal and heartbreaking lessons about the sacrifices that must be made in order to save humanity from the evil that secretly preys upon it, but she has not wavered in her vow to fight on.
Now, in Italy, a powerful vampire is amassing the power to control the souls of the dead. As Victoria races across Europe to stop what could be the most deadly army the Gardellas have ever faced, her unlikely companion is Sebastian Vioget, a man as tempting as he is untrustworthy. But when Victoria discovers that she has been betrayed by one of her most trusted allies, the truth will challenge all her powers as a Venator - and as a woman...
The story moves on, sadder and darker, Victoria is now a widow, and I must admit, I was so upset over the ending of the last book that I had to read on immediately - hoping that at the end of the series somehow, some way she could get her Philip back. In this book, Victoria travels to Italy and meets Lord Byron of all people, as well as some familiar faces from the last book. Among them is fellow Venator, Max who is engaged to some Italian blonde! Very, very upsetting ending, though not as sad as in the last book. I still loved all the delightful details, how her maid cleverly hides stakes in her hair before going out, and the idea of Victoria's vis bulla which is a little filigreed hanging crucifix that is pierced next to her belly button and gives her the strength she needs to fight the vampires. It is a tiny silver circlet dipped in holy water and blessed. Amazingly enough, after reading these books, I have a whole new appreciation for body piercing! I have this strange longing to get one myself! Eep!
This book, as I said, is darker and less romantic. Max, we find, has turned against the Venators and has joined the Tutela, a group of humans that aid and protect vampires and provide them with victims to feed on. What has happened? How can Max do this, and how dare he go and get engaged after all the grief he gave Victoria for doing the same thing in the last book! There's more to Max's story than we know. We also get to know Sebastian Vioget better, who owned a vampire cafe in London called the Silver Chalice. He's on the scene in Rome as well and is eager to woo Victoria. He is aware of her secret life and is willing to help her - but for favors in return. Sebastian always knows more than he's willing to divulge and he's not altogether trustworthy. As debonair as he is, I still prefer Max's brooding ways, but Max has plenty of his own problems that all come to a head at the end of the book with devastating results.
I really enjoyed the locale of this book in Venice and Rome and makes me want to go there all the more!
To gain access to the secrets of a legendary alchemist, Rome's vampires have allied themselves with creatures as evil and bloodthirsty as they are. The new leader of the city's vampire hunters-Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy-reluctantly turns to the enigmatic Sebastian Vioget for help, just as Maximilian Pesaro arrives to aid his fellow slayers, no matter what the sacrifice. Desire puts her at the mercy of Sebastian, while loyalty binds her to Max, but she does not know if she can trust either. Especially when a seductive vampire begins luring her into the shadows...
Another dark story, this one is still set in Rome, though it does have it's more whimsical moments in the form of Victoria's mother and two dowager friends who come to visit in Rome and put a definite cramp in Victoria's plans to fight off vampires at night.
Victoria is now the Illa Gardella, head of the Venators and we get more glimpses of the headquarters of the Venators in Rome and it's workings. We meet other Venators like, Brim, Michaelas and Zavier, a red haired (!) Scottish Venator. Alas, Zavier is too short to be a Jamie Fraser, though I was struck by the similarities of his highlander accent and red hair - something to think about... Zavier takes a liking to Victoria, but she has her hands full between Sebastian and now, after a devastating kiss - Max! I enjoyed much of this book, but I found Max's self sacrificing getting to be too much to take - enough already! This becomes the common theme in the books, though angsty and exciting I needed some lovin' between Victoria and Max, I just didn't feel completely comfortable with Victoria and Sebastian and their moments in various carriages - which also becomes an on-running joke throughout the series. Max's ex-fiancee, Sara Regalado and her vampire father play large roles in this book as well.
The end of this book was a shocker as Victoria succumbs to the charms of Sebastian's great-great-great vampire grandfather, Beauregard. It was devastating to read of Victoria in Beauregard's clutches, drinking blood and liking it! Eep! A haunting image in which all I could think of was "fix this!" But, the biggest and scariest part of this book is the cliffhanger and worrisome feeling that although Victoria is rescued, Victoria may have become a kind of vampire herself! I had to immediately download the next Kindle and read on!
Ruining Victoria's homecoming, a vampire stalks the streets of London - during the daylight. Not only is Victoria unable to detect the vampire with her heightened senses, but she's being framed as the prime suspect behind the killings.
Meanwhile, her heart is still divided between the enigmatic Sebastian Vioger and her fellow slayer Max Pesaro. The battle is made even more difficult by the legacy of a vampire's touch - a vampire who left in Victoria's veins boiling blood that forces her to fight evil on two fronts: against the new breed of undead threatening London and against the darkness within herself.
Ah, at last, things are heating up between Max and Victoria. Back in London, Max is back and so is Sebastian. Sebastian is now a Venator and we learn the truth about him. The new Marquess of Rockley (Philip's heir) has turned up, a Kentuckian. I had my hopes that the new Marquess of Rockley was going to be Philip incarnate - but alas, he is not. Not even remotely so. Still, I loved the tie in with King George IV's coronation and the idea that Princess Caroline is a vampire! How interesting!
Sara Regalado, now a minion of Lilith's, is back at it again and up to her dirty tricks, she turns out to be much worse than I ever suspected. Parts were hard to read in this book, some awful things happen to some of our favorites and there is a big showdown at the end, that finally solves the dilemma of what happens to Victoria and the tainted blood of a vampire that runs in her veins.
Again more sacrifices on Max's part, but at least we know he loves Victoria, except that he's always doing something to make you think, "Oh no! This is it! He's going to die now!" Max is no longer a Venator, which needed to happen in order for him to be released from Queen of the Vampires, Lilith, who has been obsessed with him and had him in his thrall. Without the vis bulla of a Venator, Victoria is constantly worried for him since he is not as strong without it, which drives him crazy. He has his pride and he hates to be in the position (especially with his rival, Sebastian, as a Venator now) of being "lesser" than Victoria.
Basically, he is willing to die and save his pride than remain alive and be weak. I am getting a feeling I know where this is going to lead into the last book. The basic key: Lilith must die - but how?
Directly descended from the very first vampire hunter in the Gardella family, Victoria knows she must continue the lineage so humanity will have protectors against the undead. While Sebastian Vioget appears to be both the perfect warrior and lover to ensure the Gardella Legacy, Victoria cannot forget Max Pesaro - the former slayer still haunted by the vampire queen Lilith's obsession with him. But it is Lilith's obsession that may save all of humanity. Demons, enemies of both mortals and the undead, have found their way to earth. To defeat them, vampires and slayers must fight side by side. But Lilith wants Max in return for her cooperation - a small price for the world, but too high a price for Victoria.
At last the end, and it was so satisfying to finish, and it was so romantic between Max and Victoria throughout - at last! But, he is so frustrating with this self sacrificing and brooding! Still, I loved the ups and downs and roller coaster emotions I got in reading about the two of them while battling demons and vampires and learning about what Waywren really is (duh, so obvious, but it didn't even occur to me!). I must admit, I was a bit disappointed that there was no Philip coming back from the undead at the end. Despite my love for Victoria and Max, I was really hoping that somehow Philip could return - I loved him so!
I must admit, I was so wrapped up in the romance and relationship between Max and Victoria, the plotline of fighting the demons and closing the gap became secondary to me. And yes, I guessed what was the truth behind Gwen (I must admit I never really liked her all that much!) Getting the five rings and finally killing Lilith off seemed more as a sideline! Still, a lot happens though I was a bit disappointed in the whole Guilia/Sebastian 'saving her soul' plotline - it just seemed convoluted to me, and I was still hoping it was going to be a way to bring Philip back! *pout*
Still, I'm happy for Victoria and Max and the new little Gardella on the way. Loved what happens with her mother and all the loose ends neatly wrapped up.
A wonderful, wonderful series, who knew I've love something like this! I loved the historical aspect of it, the hackney coaches, the inumerable dresses described, the balls and tea things. I loved the thrills the chills, the battles, the swords, the blood and gore, the thrall of being bitten, the eroticism of it. I loved the cold feeling on the back of the neck when a vampire is near and that "poof" when a vampire is staked and the vis bulla that hangs somewhere on the body of a Venator. I loved the "at last" moment between Victoria and Max and the way he told her he'll make her forget her own name. *sigh* It's hard to believe I've never seen a single Buffy the Vampire Episode, and the only other vampire books I've read are the early ones by Anne Rice. Well, I feel a change in the air - a sudden chill, something... paranormal.
Overall series rating: 5/5