Three out of five stars.
I liked a lot of what I read here, especially in the first half, but it didn’t come across as complete. The beginning is rushed. I felt like much more could have been done to give a clearer picture for the setting. Joe and Lydia are being held captive by sadistic vampires who use them for entertainment purposes for their friends. I never got a clear picture in my mind of the room they were being held in, nor for that matter a detailed view of the arena they were forced to perform in. Part of me pictured a regular jail cell for their holding area, but then it had a bed, bathroom, supplies, alcohol, etc. that just didn’t seem to fit. The sex scenes were good, but I felt like all the real writing was put only into them and nothing much left over for the rest of the story. As another writer, I understand it can feel a little more like work trying to present the less exciting scenes in full 3D color, but it’s necessary if you want the novel to read balanced.
Joe and Lydia know nothing about each other when they are thrown into a cell together, and though it was understandable Lydia didn’t have any answers because she suffered from amnesia, why didn’t she have more questions of Joe? If I were to put myself into her situation, I would have demanded more answers from him. Maybe he wouldn’t answer, but I’d at least try. Why did she have amnesia in the first place? Did he know who she was before they were first brought together in the ring? They exercised together, performed sex games in front of the vampires together, made friends with the young girl Mary, who ends up killed, but day to day stuff, like baths, visitors, clean clothes, details I’d be at least a little worried about were more or less passed over. Some good scenes when they took Lydia away from Joe, combination of torture and rewards that had me cringing. I would have liked more on how Joe was made into a vampire, and why. This was passed over.
Once they made their escape the novel really started to drag. At this point the sex felt like it was forced, just more or less thrown in to keep sex in the novel. There was little to no excitement, no sexual tension. I liked finding out Lydia’s dad made a living by executing vampires. This came across as a surprise and I felt like more time could have been spent here. The whole part where Joe sends Lydia away felt rushed, confusing. Then it’s rushed again when they get back together and are handed an assignment that puts them right where they need to be to get even with the vampires who tortured them. I was somewhat disappointed Joe was so easy to fool when on an assignment. Sex shouldn’t be that much of distraction for a professional killer, at least I wouldn’t think so. So at the end, Cyrus, the vampire who made their life a living hell, manages to stay free and I believe it’s so a sequel can be written at some point.
Even with the missing detail in the first half of the novel, I still found myself glued to the page, wanting to find out what would happen next. The second half was more or less a complete struggle for me to read. Sex was uninteresting, and the story flat. I feel that if a little more work had gone into the smaller details, this would have been a real page-turner from the first to last page. Since the second half didn’t have the excitement of sex to keep it going, more needed to be built up in tracking the vampires who made their lives so miserable. Their planned revenge could have been written better, more imagination brought into play. If there is a sequel, I’ll have to give some thought on whether or not I’ll read it.