Blood Trial
by Kelly St. Clare

[Vampire Towers 1]

Goodreads | Amazon

The dice are rolled at midnight.

As the twenty-one-year-old heiress to the Le Spyre fortune, my life should consist of strawberry mojitos and golf carts. Right?

But I’m determined to forge my own path.

Desperate to escape the meaningless games of the rich, I flee my family’s estate.

Secret alias—check.
Place to sleep—uh, kind of?
Job—crap!

I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but that’s the least of my worries.

My city is a giant board game. The players are supernatural— freakin’ vampires—including an overbearing crown prince whose unwanted attention could spell my demise.

Now, I must play their deadly game, or my grandmother and best friend will pay the ultimate price.

⭐⭐⭐

The blurb should’ve ended a sentence sooner, as it confounded me through most of the story.

Basi/Basil/Basilia was an interesting character for the most part, if a bit naïve and vain at times. (YSIS, indeed.) I never quite grew to like her, though, as she swung from confident and compassionate to bratty quite often. She had her moments, but overall I found her not very engaging.

Kyros was… much of the same, without the compassion and with an extra-large helping of domineering asshole. The über-alpha, chest-beating, I-am-man-hear-me-roar (literally) archetype has never been my favorite, and he was definitely all that and more. The fact that he spent most of the story tripping on the thrall didn’t help; his moments as a rational man–sorry, a rational Vissimo–were few and far between.

Perhaps that’s why I never really got a sense of tension between Basi and Kyros. Sure, there were literal ripping-each-other’s-clothes-off moments, but it never seem to progress past mindless lust. I never got the impression that they actually liked each other; in fact, Basi spent most, if not all, of her time telling him to stay away from her or plotting to get away from him. There were no hallmarks of a healthy relationship, which… OK, this is a vampire (sorry, Vissimo) romance so I’m probably expecting too much there, but could they at least occasionally look at each other fondly?

The secondary characters ranged from awesome to annoying. I adored Laurel and, for the most part, Angelica. The royal siblings tended toward irksome meddling, and I never really got a sense of deep friendship between Basi and Tommy so I had no particular investment there. I wish the other Indebted had had more screen time, because I found their characterization and situation much more compelling than the mostly-immature royals.

The story was… um. Honestly, it felt like nothing happened for large chunks of it. The same situations came up repeatedly and never really played out differently; a lot of it felt like page fillers, and there were a lot of pages to fill. By the time the climax came about, it couldn’t offset the lackadaisical pace of the rest of the story, so I really had no sense of tension from it.

I spent most of the story waiting for the last line of the blurb to come into play, but it never really did–outside of Basi’s head. There was never a direct threat to Tommy or Basi’s grandmother, yet she guarded their identities like a mama bear would her cubs. A slip here or there would’ve added to the tension, but the only time it really came up was a chance encounter with no meaning to anyone but Basi. Her angst over it just seemed overblown–especially before everything happened with Rhys.

Despite my complaints and outright dislike for some components (Kyros), I find myself intrigued enough to pick up the second book in the series. I want to see how the Indebted plotline plays out, and how the end of the story and Basi’s new position feeds into Ingenium.

tl;dr Incompatible characters and a lagging plot weren’t enough to turn me off entirely, thanks to an interesting subplot and a couple of shining moments.

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