Laws of the Blood: Deceptions
Though I’ve read a couple of Susan Sizemore’s romance novels, she’s gone in an entirely diffferent direction with this series. A romantic element remains, but be warned: these are not kind and gentle vampires. While the books in Laws of the Blood are genre novels, the genre is horror – not romance.
Olympias, Alexander the Great’s mother (and former queen of Macedon), is having problems with the area in her doman – Washington D.C. She’s D.C.’s Enforcer, which means she keeps the local vampires (or strigoi) under control and makes sure they escape human detection. It is much harder to keep vampires from being discovered in modern times, and she depends on her human slave, Sara, to assist her in this. Olympias has been distracted of late and is in danger. She’s also been without a Companion, a human lover who will eventually become a vampire, for a very long time. She has had many Companions and finds it painful when they leave her to lead their own vampire existence. Plus, it’s possible a covert military group has discovered the existence of vampires, and she has an Enforcer in Las Vegas who has gone AWOL.
Olympias meets Mike Falconer, head of a military group known as the Walkers; he is a psychic match for Olympias. Walkers are able to astrally project their consciousness, and Falconer’s group is used for covert missions in the government. When he and Olympias meet, things definitely do not go as she planned. He is excellent Companion material for her, although she tries hard to deny him. Mike sees Olympias at her worst, but manages to take it in stride.
It turns out that a Companion to another vampire, Roger Bentencort, has an evil plan to topple Olympias. He’s quite clever, though, so no one realizes the depth of his manipulation until it is almost too late. Given Olympias’ distraction, Sara’s assistance is key. It’s a good thing, then, that I enjoyed Sara’s character. It’s less of a good thing, though, that I didn’t really care for Olympias. As a “Nighthawk,” she’s a special kind of vampire. This superiority makes her vain and conceited, but she’s tempered by Sara, who stands up to her and shows great courage throughout the story.
Characters in horror novels don’t need to be “nice” or likable, but when involved in a romantic relationship, it helps to be able to care about them. While Olympias’ ruthless and nearly uncaring nature was “realistic,” I had a hard time connecting with her in the context of her relationship with Mike. And when she explained how Companionship worked, it didn’t sound like a happy ending would be forthcoming for very long in the future.
Also troublesome was Bentencourt’s characterization. He is more like a caricature of Evil than a fleshed-out character, so all his machinations seemed hollow. It takes a while for all the threads of the story to come together, but once they do, and once Bentecourt’s plan comes together, the book moves at a brisk pace.
Even with the problems I mentioned, I’d still recommend Deceptions, particularly for fans of this series. Sizemore knows how to write realistic vampires (forgive the oxymoron, but you know what I mean), and other than the villain, her characters were three-dimensional and intriguing. I plan to check out the previous books in this series.