I came across this romance the other day, attracted by its title and the cover but especially the book blurb. I love to read both paranormal and Regency romances and I really like historical novels with an arranged marriage theme. The story centres on the Viscount St. Vire, a vampire who tries to invoke a magic spell to restore his humanity and prevent his slow but sure descent into madness due to his vampire state.
In The Vampire Viscount, reclusive Nicholas, St. Vire, has found that he needs to marry a virgin, who will come willingly to him and after a year he will be human again. Fate plays into his hands when he fleeces a drunk and impoverished Mr Edward Farleigh at cards and for payment accepts the hand of his virginal daughter, Leonore in lieu of this and other debts. Leonore at first resents being ‘sold’ in such a way, preferring to continue with her life as a governess. However, she acquiesces to the match in the hope that she can secure a better future for her mother and sister. She also believes that Nicholas is seriously ill and does not have long for this world, his wan complexion and need to avoid the sunlight bearing testimony to some sort of wasting disease and she feels pity for him. Leonore and Nicholas have a whirlwind courtship, where he seduces her with his wit and charm.
Once they are married Leonore willingly gives herself to him and falls hard for him as he is all that is attentive and kind and they appear to share a mutual attraction. She suspects nothing of his true nature, which is kept well hidden and Nicholas eagerly awaits a time when he may be human again. All is well until Leonore suspects that Nicholas has secrets that he is not willing to share with her and she begins to lose trust in him. This trust is severely put to the test when a mysterious woman, the widow Lady Lazio, appears. The unfolding tale contains elements of jealousy, deception and murder.
The storyline flowed smoothly and I enjoyed the central romance and the supporting characters. I liked both the hero and the heroine and enjoyed their witty repartee. There are some sweet lovemaking scenes, and St. Vire is a very cheeky viscount indeed as he pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable in Regency society during their courtship! Leonore does not trust easily due to her experiences with her drunk and abusive father. However, she is no shrinking violet and speaks her mind. Nicholas, although jaded by his vampire state, appears thoughtful and charming and has a great sense of humour. Although he is clearly using Leonore for his own ends, he does develop strong feelings for her. My only concern was that perhaps more could have been made of the dark side of his nature. However, this is perhaps not surprising as Nicholas is a vampire who values his humanity and tries to control his vampire urges. Also this book was first published in 1995 and as the author explains in a preamble to the book, the melding together of vampires in a regency romance was unheard of then! Overall I thought this novel was a really enjoyable read and I liked the fact that it helped pioneer the paranormal sub genres that I love.
Although there is much romance in this book, there is less emphasis on the world of vampires. If you are looking for a Regency romance with strong paranormal elements, this probably is not the book for you. However, if you’d like to read a Regency romance with an innovative paranormal twist then this fits the bill perfectly.