A dark paranormal romance
In Bloodroom we meet Julian Mouret a master vampire have his loyalties torn between upholding vampire law and letting the human he has become obsessed with survive when he is honour bound to kill her.
Natalie Heyward, a ballerina with the Charleston ballet troupe, saw Julian’s true nature when she and her dance partner Andrew came across Julian when he was engaged in a feeding frenzy on some wolves in a local wood. Julian retaliated quickly, tossing Andrew in the air and pursuing and attacking Natalie, whom he could not bring himself to kill. Andrew, who now resides in hospital, never saw his attacker’s face. However, Julian knows that Natalie did and seeks her out, under the guise of patron of the ballet company, intent on killing her to prevent her from revealing the existence of vampires to humans. To cope with the horror of that night Natalie’s mind has blocked out her memories of it. Julian and Natalie have an immediate mutual attraction which develops into a deeply obsessive and erotic sexual relationship. Throughout the novel Julian intends to kill Natalie once he has had his sexual fill of her but he cannot seem to get enough. He knows that he must kill her as soon as she shows any signs of remembering that night and what he really is. Thus we are embroiled in a roller coaster game of cat and mouse with Natalie’s memories – will he, won’t he kill her and when and how? The story is both a paranormal romance and a thriller, with elements of pure horror. It is also very dark and erotic. All the while we are waiting for Natalie’s memory to resurface, wondering that when it does whether her demise will swiftly follow.
Natalie is immediately drawn to Julian. Sexual tension between them is high and soon develops into lust and an obsessive love on her part. Natalie’s parents died when she was very young and she craves love and affection and very soon feels that Julian is the one to fill that void. She is very protective of Andrew, who is now hospitalised and is recovering from his injuries. She is called to his bedside on more than one occasion when Andrew is apparently harmed whilst under medical care, necessitating blood transfusions and he reports that he has been attacked by a woman with fangs. Natalie begins to believe that something is not right about this or the initial attack and becomes fixated on recovering her repressed memories and finding out what really happened that night. She enlists Julian’s help in this and trusts him to help her. She begins to research the history of Lion’s Court, Julian’s ancestral home, near to where the attack in the woods took place, to see if it can shed light on the matter.
Julian is a stickler for upholding vampire law where other vampires are concerned and we are given graphic examples of this. He is swift to act, delivering, through Mick, his chief executioner, the ultimate punishment when other vampires do anything to threaten the security of the vampires. His feelings for Nalalie are thus conflicted to say the least. He is attracted to her as he has been attracted to no female before and yet he also knows it is his duty to extinguish her life. There are a number of scenes in the book when he is about to do the deed but he is prevented from doing so and these scenes are very harrowing. Julian’s mind is torn between acting the attentive lover to Natalie and releasing the desires of the beast within him.
The main supporting characters include the Swisher, a hauntingly beautiful yet deadly, cigar smoking vampire, barely out of adolescence when turned and Mick, a vampire who plays the role of cop, executioner and internal affairs, appointed to Julian by those higher up in the vampire world. Swisher and Mick are lovers, but Swisher, is also attracted to humans. Swisher’s reactions to learning of Julian and Natalie’s affair and her actions move the plot to its denouement.
The descriptions the author gives of the graveyard and its mausoleum, adjacent to Julian’s mansion, are gothic, whilst the descriptions of the bloodroom (to which the book owes its title) and the activities of the vampires at play are truly horrific. The originality of the plot and the vivid imagery contrasting the beauty of the ballet and the ethereal and fragile beauty that is Natalie and the dark, evil doings of the vampires makes this book extremely memorable and it has haunted me since reading it. The author does not shy away from showing the true nature of vampires, their boredom, capriciousness and total lack of humanity. I found myself drawn to Julian (almost against my will), yet repelled at the same time. His obvious attraction to and care of Natalie changes instantly when he gets a hint that she will remember and he plots throughout the book about how he will kill her. As the days go by we are left wondering what will happen to Natalie and whether Julian has a spark of humanity left to enable him to redeem himself or whether he will succumb to his vampire nature and uphold the law. The whole book and final denouement kept me on the edge of my seat and I could not have possibly predicted the ending. I read the book several weeks ago before writing this review and the storyline and the emotions that it evoked have remained with me.
I would recommend Bloodroom to lovers of dark paranormal romance and horror, especially for those with a love of the modern gothic and the erotic. Naima Haviland is an author who is new to me, but I will definitely be looking out for her other works.
Reviewed by Tina Williams