As much as I enjoy the typical vampire tropes, I also like when those tropes are turned on their heads, and that was one of my favorite things about this book. For one thing, these vampires were not all perfect and porcelain. In fact, Matheus described Quin as, “Not even his mother would have called him handsome, but people would have had a hard time forgetting his features.” (But Matheus liked his snaggletooth <3) He also had darker skin, rather than the usual pale, because he was Roman. And Matheus was the clumsiest character I've ever read about---he must've tripped and fell 27 times throughout the book. For another thing, Quin didn't abandon Matheus or treat him horribly, the way sires often do. I'm also always thinking about how I want more books with baby vamps who grew up in current times and are just kind of adjusting to life as a vampire, and that was exactly what Matheus was. It was also funny that Quin was not a morning (or night, I guess) person since you just never read about vampires struggling to wake up and mumbling and trying to go back to sleep. Last but not least, feeding wasn't sexy, it was just feeding, which was admittedly disappointing since I like that trope, but still.
“You’re looking for a meal, not a date. Don’t confuse the two.”
“I thought that was part of the package.”
“Tell me, did you usually make out with your hamburgers before you ate them? The answer better be no, or you are on your own.”
I have to admit though, I found this book funnier the first time I read it than I did the second. That’s probably partly because I already knew the jokes, but I think it’s also partly because I realized this time how judgmental and based-on-stereotypes some of Matheus’s thoughts and jokes were. That was the only thing that bothered me about the book.
There was still lots of other humor too though. Matheus, as I said, could be judgmental, and immature, but he was relatable in other ways as well as quippy and sarcastic. Quin was even more sarcastic when he wanted to be though. Not only is he funny, he’s just unhinged and deadly enough that he’s the type of character who’s likeable if you’re on his side but terrifying if you’re not. All the characters are great though with their own personalities, motivations, emotions, and complexities.
The man took a half-step back. Matheus didn’t blame him. No one wanted to trifle with someone who could smile through a shattered cheekbone.
But for all the humor, there was some deeper emotion and questioning of morality as Matheus struggled with becoming a vampire, like when he killed for the first time, and after the traumatizing experience in woods. There was also some darkness and intensity, like when they were being hunted and during various other scenes I can’t explain because of spoilers. And the author didn’t shy away from disturbing, gritty things in the darker scenes. It was kind of an odd juxtaposition, but it worked, and those scenes managed to suck me in even more than the funny ones.
But oh, the romance (or lack thereof) was the best part! Talk about a slow burn. I believe the anticipation of things is half the fun. So yes, please do torture me by drawing out the romance until I feel like I’m going to explode if they don’t JUST KISS ALREADY AND DAMMIT, MILO, COULD YOUR TIMING WITH INTERRUPTIONS BE ANY WORSE??? What was I saying? Oh yes. I love it because, once they do kiss, *sigh* it’s that much better. And this book was delightfully torturous in that regard.
“Nothing. Milo interrupted.”
My thoughts exactly.
Not only that, Matheus and Quin made the perfect couple. And by couple, I mean not a couple. And by perfect, I mean they constantly bickered and only half-teasingly threatened to maim each other (as you do when you’re a vampire). But I have never read about two characters who just seemed to fit and complement each other so perfectly. Their senses of humor, their temperaments, and their personalities balanced and meshed so well. And I swooned so hard when Quin explained why he calls Matheus by the nickname Sunshine. Even though turning Matheus without consent was wrong (he’s a vampire, he’s been alive 1,700 years, I don’t expect paranormal/immortal creatures to act using the same set of morals as humans), Quin was good to him, taught him, tried to give him space, and did do some sweet things.
I first read this series in ebook form, but I’ve also listened to the audiobooks, so here are my thoughts on the audio for the whole series. The narrator, James Patrick Cronin, is good at narrating, has a nice voice, and does a fairly good job of differentiating characters with voices and accents. I’d try more audiobooks by him. But I didn’t like how he voiced Quin and Alistair throughout the series. I didn’t mind the voices so much as the way he spoke in a less natural, more dramatic way. Their tone didn’t always match the emotion and situation behind the words, in my opinion. Maybe I’m just being extra picky because this is one of my favorite series, but it made it hard for me to sink into the emotional scenes with those characters. The other characters sounded ok though. And the narration and Matheus’s dialogue were still good. But I’d recommend reading the normal way if possible if you’re a picky listener like I am.
So overall, some of the humor was a little problematic, but I loved the slow burn romance, and the story and characters kept me hooked until the end! And having read this whole series multiple times, I can tell you that the story only gets better and is one of my favorites.
*I’ve read this book multiple times. This review was written after my 1st read, slightly updated after my 2nd and 3rd reads.*
4 Stars (1st Read – 2016)
4 Stars (2nd Read – 2017)
4.5 Stars (3rd Read – 2020)
Anyone who likes M/M vampire books, sarcastic characters with fun banter, slow burn romance, and a good combo of darkness, intensity, emotion, and humor.