Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Centuries ago, humans and vampires lived alongside one another, sometimes hostile, sometimes peaceful—but always tense. Eventually, that tension tipped too far, and now vampires are few in number and known only as Pets, kept by the wealthy as intimate companions, most of their history lost, the rest shrouded in mystery.
Aubrey has returned home after spending many years away, though he is reluctant to live once more with his estranged father, his mercurial cousin, and the memories of his murdered mother.
The very last thing he wants is the Pet given to him as a welcome home gift, a practice he has long despised and wants no part of. But Ruthven is like no Pet he’s ever encountered, and only the beginning of the secrets Aubrey slowly begins to uncover…
When Aubrey returns home after being away to study it’s worse then he’d thought. His father is as cold as ever, his cousin is as cruel, and his beloved sister is as sick as she’s always been. When he finds out he’s being forced to accept the gift of a Pet things get worse. No matter how beautiful the Pet Ruthven is, he’s still a slave, which Aubrey hates, but he’s also clearly keeping secrets and he knows more than a Pet should. Running into the family doctor and his friend, Stregoni, only brightens his day so much. Especially since Stregoni doesn’t seem as cheerful as usual. And Stregoni doesn’t want his friend to find out why that is, since it involves Aubrey’s cousin Giles. Stregoni has had a physical relationship with Giles and his Pet Francois for a while, but they never want anything more than that. And he knows Giles is keeping something from him, other than the emotional connection Stregoni craves, but finding out what that is could tear them apart. Untangling a web of old lies, intrigue, and family history will bring all of these people more than they bargained for.
As expected of Ms Derr, the world building in this book was wonderful and rich. I really liked the take on vampires in this book, and since the majority of the characters disagreed with their slavery it was easier to swallow the injustices inherent when you have characters who are enslaved. The characters were well rounded, for all I only liked some of them. The twist at the end was something I saw coming, but it was still interesting and well handled. There were several storylines in this book and they were all wrapped up well and they were all entertaining.
I did have some problems with this book and they were all to do with the romantic relationships. In this book there were two romances; one couple and one threesome. The couple was Aubrey and the Pet foisted on him by his family, Ruthven. Of these two, I only really liked Aubrey and I felt really bad for him for a few reasons. One was his family kept a lot of secrets from him that made it difficult for him to properly make decisions and interact with them. Another was that Ruthven also had a lot of secrets and I think he took advantage of Aubrey. To say that someone wanted to do something so it’s ok to kiss them or more when their defenses are down and they’ve said no before just rubs me the wrong way. This is a complaint I also have with the threesome, where I just felt so bad for Stregoni. The other two members of the threesome, Aubrey’s Cousin Giles and Giles’ Pet Francois, kept Stregoni cruelly at arm’s length emotionally while also being very possessive and demanding of him. They kept secrets from him, and it really didn’t make me feel a lot better that Stregoni acknowledges that he should leave them but he just can’t make himself. All these relationships are given a happy ending, but getting there wasn’t very satisfying for me.
All in all this was an interesting story with some great characters, and while a lot of the romantic elements threw me, the world building made up for a lot. I’d recommend this book to fans of Megan Derr and those that like interesting takes on classic themes.