Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books, Inc.
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Mark Hansen thought working as artist’s assistant would be glamorous, especially if that artist was a vampire. Black tie events, witty repartee, gracing the pages of the local style section…. Didn’t happen. Not even once.
Jonathan Varga is an enigma. True, he’s quiet, generous, and scrupulously polite. But he has zero social life, refuses to be interviewed or photographed, and insists he can only consume feline blood.
Why supermarket blood won’t suffice, Mark hasn’t asked. He’s rarely at a loss for words—he can dish an insult and follow it with a snap as quick as you can say “Miss Thang.” But one look at Jonathan’s black-as-sin gypsy eyes, and Mark’s objections drain away.
So he endures the perpetual grind of their routine: Jonathan hiding in his studio, swiping black paint onto black canvases. Mark hurling insults while he buffs the office to a shine with antiviral wipes. Each of them avoiding the other in a careful choreography…until a blurb in Art in America unleashes a chain of harrowing events.
As secrets from Jonathan’s past are brought to light, it becomes clear that all his precautions weren’t nearly enough.
What a crackerjack combo—JCP and Joel Leslie! Wow! Fantastic story—so well-written, riddled with humor, and brilliantly executed in Joel’s many voices. In fact, the voice he gave Mark was so perfect it defies description. Campy, sexy, self-deprecating, flamboyant, humorous—honestly, I could likely go through the entire dictionary and use almost every adjective and superlative to describe both the story and the performance. But I guess I’ll attempt to do the story justice by writing a few words in review.
As the story opens we meet Mark Hansen, assistant to Jonathan Varga, an artist who happens to be a vampire. Mark is a little overweight but he’s a young gay man who happens to find his dark and mysterious boss extremely sexy, despite the fact that Jonathan is a vampire and Mark has to wear special gloves and keep everything pristine clean to reduce his chance of infection. Mark is also all about efficiency, so he’s ready to organize Jonathan’s life, procure his supplies—including the supermarket artificial blood most vampires drink—and attend all the artsy functions Jonathan is no doubt invited to. There’s one problem—Jonathan is not that type of vampire. He’s naturally quiet and shy, very polite, and artificial blood doesn’t agree with him. He wants cat blood and he charges Jonathan with getting it for him. Without going into detail, let’s just say that Mark’s procurement of cat blood for Jonathan takes up a good deal of the early part of the story and provides tons of enjoyment, laced with laugh-out-loud-humor for the reader/listener’s enjoyment. It’s not as simple as it seems—even with a willing seller who will drain her cats for money, the need for the blood far exceeds the supply.
Jonathan’s paintings are in demand, even though to Mark’s human eye, they look like no more than black paint on canvas. In other words, b-o-r-i-n-g. The men settle into a daily routine, which consists mainly of Jonathan painting his black canvases and Mark going around cleaning surfaces with his never-ending supply of antiviral wipes. He’s obsessed with not contracting the V virus and plans to remain V-negative forever—thank you very much. But fate has a different plan in store for Mark and his sexy-as-sin vampire boss, and it comes in the form of retribution from the vampire who believes Jonathan infected him back in Hungary in the late-eighties.
Before they even realize what’s happening, the two are on the run from Laslo, the aforementioned vampire, and his henchman, “Mr. Smith.”
Despite the dramatic events which seem to continually get in the way of any chance they have to lead “normal” vampire lives, they make friends as they go underground—a group that is helping V-positives and any V-negatives in their lives. The group has heard of Mark and Jonathan—who hasn’t? —since they’re featured on the daily news all day, everyday because they’re considered to be murderers, rather than the victims they really are. But these group members believe in them and help them as best they can until they are all caught in a web of deception cleverly woven by Laslo.
This story is long and yet it flies by in the hands of a talented performer like Joel Leslie, and given the outstanding writing of Jordan Castillo Price. I’m still at a loss for the exact words I can use to praise this story, but when I reached the end, I was surprised to be given the treat of an additional novelette, Sweet, which actually serves as a fitting epilogue to Hemovore. It’s a lovely gift—this bonus of goodness that is the stuff of which HEAs are made. Not giving spoilers for it, so you’ll just have to purchase this audiobook and prepare yourself for hours of enjoyment— better than an ice cream sundae with a surprise cherry on top!