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Stripped with the Vampire by Jax Garren
I really hesitated to read this book. I saw that it was available for review, and it intrigued me, but I stayed away from it for a long time. The plot sounded a little too convoluted, and I’m not much of a vampire fan. I really try to read books for review that I think I’ll have a good chance of liking, and those things told me maybe this wasn’t the book for me. And the title is kind of a turn off. But a few weeks ago, I came across someone praising this book, and it just sounded so interesting that I decided I had to go for it.
I’m really glad I did. This is much different from what I expected, and it’s great. We start with our main character, Vince, a human who ends up in a sticky situation with some rogue vampires and the Aztec priestess/witch they’re working for. Not knowing where to turn, Vince runs to his ex‐boyfriend, Charlie, a vampire, for help. Charlie welcomes him back and offers his help, but in the midst of the vampire conflict and the danger that Vince is still in, things are also tense between Charlie and Vince. The two are obviously still in love with each other, but misunderstandings and an unwillingness to compromise has made their relationship seem impossible.
The plot is pretty complex, but it’s not as… out of control? …as I originally assumed, reading the blurb, that it would be. It’s really pretty straightforward, actually, while still remaining interesting and exciting. And the slow rekindling of romance between Charlie and Vince is refreshing and intense and lovely.
There’s just a lot to like here. The plot is well put together and I was very rarely bored (there are a lot of action scenes and those are just never going to be for me, but this is something that’s my fault and not the book’s fault, at all.) The characters are excellent. Vince and Charlie were both believable and real and I liked them. I also loved how well thought out the other characters were. You can really get a feel for their personalities, even with characters that are only mentioned in passing. It made the book feel really well‐rounded.
I also absolutely loved the unique take on vampires here. Vampires aren’t really my thing, but this author manages to make them both new and interesting, while still retaining a lot of the traditional ideas. These vampires have a complex but totally believable society, they drink blood out of cartons like you would milk, they have thoughts on death, their politics were interesting… It creates a world where things are familiar but fascinating at the same time, and there’s a lot of room for both convenience and play and believable conflict.
I also loved, without giving too much away, Vince’s thoughts on immortality. This was extremely refreshing to read and it made me like both him and Charlie even more. It was also nicely explained without feeling preachy.
The book isn’t perfect. I had a hard time getting into it at first‐ it starts with a very long, very action‐y scene, and, aside from my general dislike of action (which I wouldn’t hold against the book at all) I think maybe this scene just wasn’t as well written? It had a choppier feel to it than later action scenes and it was a little hard to follow. But once I did get into the book, I was hooked.
There were also some places where I had to ponder the meanings of sentences‐ jut areas where word order could have been switched around slightly to make things flow a bit better. This was mild, though. (As a side note, I also found the dialogue to be very neat and believable and natural, which was great.)
There were also quite a few moments when it’s clear to the reader that Vince and Charlie are simply having a misunderstanding, and that’s sometimes the only basis for the conflict in their relationship. I didn’t love this, especially when it could have been fixed by one of them explaining something simple to the other. But it wasn’t enough to deter me from enjoying their romance.
Overall, though, I just really enjoyed this. It was well‐written and fun and sweet and just everything a person could want out of an action packed, paranormal romance. There’s lots of room for later stories to be written within this world, and lots of characters for the author to play with, and I’ll definitely looking forward to any more books in this series.
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