Review – Kiss of Death by Seleste deLaney

Kiss of Death cover image

Publisher: Mundania Press
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: From the author

Too many years of killer vamps have triggered the curse of the Blood Kissed. They’ve awakened the bloodline that can alter their world, because her blood has the power to control them all—even make them destroy each other.

Jocelyn thought her troubles with vampires were over when she drove a stake through her boyfriend Max’s heart two years ago. Even though she’s engaged to Chad, she’s never really forgotten him. Now Max is back, and Chad is taking her into the heart of the vamp community—and they’re the ones trying to keep her alive. The ones who love her and each seek to claim her for their own. Because once the elders know who she is, they’re all going to want her…or want her dead.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.

I happen to have a pretty evident soft spot for vampires so when we received a request to consider reviewing Kiss of Death and the blurb was included I decided to give it a try. Overall I enjoyed reading it and the different bits and pieces of history along with the introduction of different supernatural creatures but I kept feeling like I was missing something. If the blurb of a book captures me from the beginning then I do not tend to do any research on the book before I decide to give it a try. As a result I did not do any research on the story before I started reading it so I didn’t realize that this was part of a series until I was finished reading. Now that I know that and I have looked at the blurbs of the previous short stories a lot of the different pieces are falling into place.

There are a lot of things going on in this book. Jocelyn finds out that both Max and Chad claim to love her yet they lied to her in the same way. She also learns that she is special and as a result she doesn’t know whom to trust. Members of the vampire council are scheming and most of them look like they are getting very old for vampires while one still keeps his youthful appearance. I am not sure if that is because he really is that much younger than the rest of the council or if he has something a little bit extra. I could tell that he wants to take over the council while the others are trying to keep him excluded from council business. The entire council shows that their politics aren’t for the faint of heart and can be used to get what they want regardless of the cost to others. In fact sometimes things will be done just to keep another council member from gaining an advantage over the others regardless of the long-term consequences.

I have mixed feelings about the relationship between Max, Jocelyn and Chad. First I thought it was going to be a traditional love triangle but Jocelyn broke that stalemate by refusing both men. Then I thought it was going to move towards a ménage but while the two men claimed to work together to project Jocelyn they couldn’t stop fighting each other enough to even hint at being in a relationship together. So then I didn’t have a clue about the romance aspect.

Max had my sympathies first but than I found out what he had done in the past regarding Jocelyn and his potential ulterior motives. Chad I didn’t like but then I realized that he was rather cocky, young, and immature but really thought based on his limited understanding of vampire society that he was doing the best thing to keep Jocelyn because he loved her. Jocelyn seemed willfully obtuse at times. Some of that I could understand from the shock of everything that she learned, her struggle against her implanted memories, and from the hints I received about her childhood. But she also had some TSTL moments long after I thought she should have realized that some of the things that go bump in the night will also come after in the daylight.

Even with my doubts about the three main characters I thought the world deLaney created was interesting. She drew from some interesting legends and characters of history/mythology to populate this story. I found their introductions interesting and it made me wonder about the back-story of some of the other older characters. I think if I had read the first two short stories before reading this one I would have had a better feel for Max, Chad and Jocelyn and therefore enjoyed the complexities of their interactions with each other more. I also wouldn’t have expected a romance. Kiss of Death does not end with Jocelyn, Max or Chad involved with anyone but their story obviously isn’t over so it is possible that the overall story arc does include a romance. I highly recommend that even though this review contains some spoilers for the first two that you read them first. I think establishing those characters first as well as the overall tone is key. I didn’t have that and as a result found that I didn’t like this as much as I had hoped.

I give Kiss of Death a C

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