I LOVE RA Steffan's work. Like, seriously, I'm a huge fan. Like me, she writes LGBT+ Romance in all kinds of ways, from harems to MMs to genderbending, and it's glorious. The world this book is in is the same world as Last Vampire and Vampire Bound, but this series follows Len and Albigard! I know, right? I was sooooooo excited when I saw the news too.
This is a plot-heavy romance. Unlike with Last Vampire, where the romance took the front seat, this book's plot is the driver, which is a bit of a different feel than RA Steffan's other books, in my opinion. But I think it worked beautifully in this case. The romance is slower than slow burn. There's no romantic tension in book one at all. They go from being enemies to kind of friends (genuinely, not romantically). But I'm hoping that steps up in book two and we get some tension, some sexy times, and maybe a first kiss. Gasp.
Nothing I love more than a romance that's genuinely built from the ground up and takes multiple books or most of a standalone to get to the first kiss. And this proper delivers on that. But then I didn't doubt RA Steffan for a moment. The banter, the getting-to-understand-each-other, the sharing pot brownies, the differing of ideals and world views . . . It's all sooooo delicious.
Len. My dear, gorgeous Len. A shibari expert, gay, and more emotional baggage than a misplaced suitcase in an airport. He deserves love. Honestly, if there was any character that deserves an HEA, it's Len. He lost his job because of the events in Last Vampire, he struggles with staying sober due past trauma, and he's lost his love of life. But maybe Albigard can bring it back?
Albigard . . . A faerie, an asshole, but a good friend. Oh, and a magical badass. He's in a bit of a slump throughout this book, as he causes (accidentally) some human deaths. And he and Len really help each other through, which I found beautiful. They mope together, they struggle together, they know when to give each other space . . . Emotionally, I think they're really healthy--well, they have the potential to be.
This is kind of a hard one, because the setting in this book relies heavily on the reader having read at least Last Vampire. Otherwise I think some of the finer details, like the type of species and how they work, etc., might be a little confusing. I read this worth having read Vampire Bound, and I got a little confused in places, so . . . yeah. This book is part of a larger multi-series world, after all. But as a whole, this world is incredibly detailed. It's set on Earth (mostly) but does include the faerie realm of Dhuinne. There are lots of species, lots of political nightmares and connections and intrigue, lots of laws and rules, and overall, this world is just really detailed. Which, obviously, I love.
RA Steffan's writing is always some of the cleanest I see in the indie world. A few errors here and there, but nothing more than whatever I would find in a traditionally published book. And the fact that she can compete at all is amazing. Publishers spend a fortune on their editing, sending a book through a good dozen passes before publishing; but us small authors need to conserve money so tend to use fewer types and passes, hence the slight dip in quality between the two. So I'm always amazed when I find an author like Steffan who has such error-free work.