Bite Me, Your Grace
When I chose this book to review, I was intrigued by both the title and the premise. “Bite Me, Your Grace” as the title had me imagining a story using a clever double entendre. A clever title shows an author with a clever mind, right? In some ways the book was clever and there was evidence of that double entendre. The author, Brooklyn Ann, uses the very popular vampire trope in a setting that has been somewhat overused in the romance genre – the Regency period. I appreciate authors attempting to bring something different to the table. Unfortunately, the idea did not translate quite as well in terms of the entire narrative and the story fell a little flat for me.
Angelica Winthrop is a young heiress who has no yearning to be wed. She idolizes Mary Wollstonecraft as a budding feminist and Mary Shelley as a budding author. Angelica plans to thwart her mother’s campaign to gain her a husband by being as outrageous as possible so she will be ruined for the marriage mart. If she is able to accomplish her ruination, she plans to support herself by writing gothic stories and selling them to a local publisher. Along with her determination to be ruined, her determination to become a financially independent author brings her into the path of Ian Ashton, the Duke of Burnrath and the Lord Vampire of London.
Yes, Ian Ashworth is a real vampire trying to escape notice after the publication of John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” takes the ton by storm. His reclusive nature makes him prime fodder for the London gossips. When Angelica is injured after breaking into his ducal mansion in search of ghosts, Ian takes advantage of the negative gossip about her to redirect the gossip towards their relationship instead of his nighttime proclivities. He decides to marry Angelica to throw the gossips off of his scent. The pending marriage does misdirect the ton, but not a professional vampire hunter who has journeyed to London in search of prey.
The author does a good job of pacing the story, fleshing out the main characters, and doing justice to many of the secondary characters. She gives sufficient background information to make the idea of vampires in Regency England believable.
But the main problem with this novel for me was the heroine. It was very hard to like her character. She was immature and self-absorbed – and became somewhat of a caricature for the strident feminist. Ian falls in love with her, but it is very hard for the reader to understand why he does so. There is some redemption later in the book, but not quite enough. There were just a few too many instances of the dreaded “big misunderstanding” as well. Of course, teenage girls do tend to be a bit narcissistic, and Angelica was a spoiled, rich, only child as well. So her character was believable, but Ian falls for her before any maturation takes place. His character is over 300 years old. What possible qualities would be believable for this rapid capitulation into true love? Lust maybe, but…love? And why would a 300 year old vampire who has escaped notice and lived as a mortal for that length of time entrust his secret to an immature little girl he has just met, but then fail to communicate with her about other matters?
If you can get past Angelica’s personality, you might enjoy this book more than I did. Because I never grew to like Angelica and I had a hard time believing in their happy ever after. I do think that Brooklyn Ann has writing talent. Except for the implausibility of Ian and Angelica’s relationship, I did like Ian very much. There were a couple of secondary characters whose stories I would like to hear, but a petulant child is hard to swallow as the heroine of the book. However, I will try another book by this author, who I feel with time and practice could become a staple in the romance genre.