The Chick: Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy. While still reeling from the death of her husband, Phillip, she knows she still has a job to do: stop evil vampire Nedas from awakening an evil magical artefact.
The Rub: She'll have to do it on her own since the two men in her life are pretty unstable - one is clearly self-serving and the other seems to have switched sides entirely.
Dream Casting: Anne Hathaway.
The (Sort of) Dude: Sebastian Voiget. Handsome, French, morally ambiguous, and totally hot for Victoria, he seems willing to help her on her quest ... and out of her complicated Victorian undergarments, aw yeah.
The Rub: Apparently, if you shake his family tree hard enough, handsome, French, morally ambiguous vampires will fall out - which may put a damper on his fling with a vampire slayer.
Dream Casting: Alex O'Loughlin.
The (Sort of) Other Dude: Maximilian Pesaro. A stern, no-nonsense Venator (vampire slayer) who helped Victoria in the last book, he's gone MIA in Rome.
The Rub: Victoria eventually tracks him down - to find out he's engaged. To the daughter of a possible Evil Vampire Fanboy. Awkward.
Dream Casting: Sacha Baron Cohen.
The Plot (Some *Spoilers*)
Aunt Eustacia: Ohnoes! A very evil vampire wants to get a hold of an Important Magical Object and take over the world!
Victoria: Ohnoes-- wait, didn't that happen in the last book?
Aunt Eustacia: Different vampire, different object.
Sebastian: Here, let me offer you my unexpected, morally ambiguous, and French assistance!
Victoria: Um....'kay. Can we have sex, too?
Sebastian: Great idea! See, that's why you're the Venator.
Sebastian and Victoria: *Les SexyTimes*
Sebastian: *ties up Victoria* It's been swell, but wouldn't ya know it, my granddaddy's a vampire and I kinda think vampires aren't all that bad and I have to tie you up to keep from you from interfering in the Big Evil Plan but I'll call you later, sometime, okay? *flees*
Victoria: Damn your sexy French moral ambiguity! *escapes to the Opera House of Evil Plans*
Max, Venator Friend from Previous Book: What are you doing here? Leave! I'm totally a traitorous turncoat who's totally working for the bad guys. Totally.
Victoria: I don't believe that.
Max: Oh? *beheads Aunt Eustacia with a SWORD*
Victoria: Okay I believe you now.
Max: PSYCH! *royally fucks up Evil Plan*
Victoria: It's great you saved the world and everything, but you killed my aunt. That's cold, dude. I think you should leave.
Max: Will I have a chance if I leave only to come back even more emo and brooding and guilty than before?
Max: Okay then!
Sebastian: Hey, I'm still here! And incredibly morally ambiguous and French!
Romance Convention Checklist
1 Vampire Slayer Widow
1 Hot Frenchman
1 Hot Semi-Jerk Possible Traitor
1 Opera House of Evil Plans
1 Obsidian MacGuffin
1 Secret Base in a Church
1 "Holy Shit" Death
2 Cases of Carriage Nookie
1 Secret Society of Vampire Fanboys
The Word: Okay, I read the first book in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles (The Rest Falls Away) a while ago, but didn't review it (I think because I didn't really consider it romance - which it isn't), but the series definitely has romantic elements in it, so when I decided to pick the second book off my TBR series, I thought I'd give it a shot. I consider myself immune to most Urban Fantasy or vampire paranormals - mostly because I need series to end. I frankly don't want to have to worry about how the heroine's life can get any worse over a never-ending crapload of books. I also tend to disagree with the whole vampires-are-romantic thing. They eat people. They're dead. They don't go to heaven or die. Not hot.
But I really liked the concept of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, about 19th century Venators, or vampire slayers who work for the Pope. Gleason keeps to the traditional mythology - including the religious aspect of it. Holy water and crosses! I notice a lot of paranormals or UFs do away with the whole revulsion-towards-holy-objects "myth" because they don't want to bring religion into it. Yes, by all means have demons and vampires and angels but for heaven's sake, don't bring God into it (this is me, rolling my eyes heavily). Gleason also brings the humour and absurdity of Victorian society into play, especially in the last book when our heroine Victoria had to battle the rigours of the Season as well as the Queen of the Vampires.
Be forewarned - here there be spoilers.
Things take a more sober turn in Rises the Night, as they should. Victoria's understandably glum after having to stake her vampirized husband in the last book. She's dealing with her grief by throwing herself even deeper into her training and slaying. Unfortunately, after she whupped Vampire Queen Lilith's ass in the last novel, vampires are few on the ground in London and when Victoria finally does find a bloodsucker to introduce to Mr. Pointy, she discovers a dark, twisted conspiracy.
All the way over in Italy, Lilith's son, Nedas, has apparently discovered an ancient obelisk that would allow him to awaken an army of zombies to take over the world, and is being helped by the Tutela, a secret society of Vampire Fanboys. Victoria, as a wealthy widow whose Venator status is relatively unknown, is the perfect candidate to try and infiltrate the Tutela and perhaps gain access to their Evil Plans.
In The Rest Falls Away, Victoria negotiated a bizarre, hazy love-quadrangle - while she was very much in love with her handsome (but oblivious) husband Phillip, she got serious vibes from the other two corners: fellow Venator Max, who was Arrogant, Morally Rigid and Hot; and the human owner of a vampire-friendly pub, Sebastian, who was Seductive, Morally Ambiguous and Hot. Staking Phillip brought it down to a triangle, but by Rises the Night it's more a straight line between Sebastian and Victoria as Max is worryingly MIA in Italy.
Victoria and Sebastian develop a tricky, but very entertaining relationship in this novel that's quite fun to read. A year after Phillip's death, Victoria has determined that love is no longer in the cards for her. She can't afford to put anyone else at risk and she refuses to give up her Venator lifestyle the way her mother and grandmother did. But nothing's wrong with a careless fling with a hot Frenchman who doesn't want any strings attached either! Still - how far can she trust him? As much as he tries to hide it (as he obfuscates nearly everything else in his past), it's clear Sebastian feels much more for Victoria than he's willing to let on.
I very much enjoyed Victoria in Rises the Night. She's matured a great deal from her trials in the last book (where she had an annoying tendency to jump into things headfirst to prove She's The Man and fail spectacularly) , and while she still pulls Irritatingly Reckless Shit on occasion, she does a lot more preparation so when the crap hits the fan it seems like less of a happy accident when she manages to survive. That being said - there's a moment near the very end when she lets something Very Bad happen because she's being Very Stupid, and that lessened my admiration of her a tad.
That being said - it's a fun book. The pacing is good, the detail is colourful, the action scenes are coherent and lively without being too graphic. Gleason also expands the mythology without overpowering the book - including hinting that not all vampires are all bad. Despite the slightly darker tone, Victoria maintains a cynical sense of humour, particularly during those times when she has to juggle social obligations with vampire fighting. Her infiltration of the Tutela means she has to follow society's rules again, and here the paranormal element provides a nice excuse for biting social commentary (pun intended).
If you're looking for a witty, well-written paranormal series with historical elements and a plethora of hot dudes who all have pulses, The Gardella Vampire Chronicles is an excellent choice.