Chrysabelle is a comarré, the ultimate blood source for a vampire. From birth, she was molded into the ideal: in beauty, countenance, and blood purity. But now her patron --her blood-master-- is dead, and she is suspected not only of killing him, but stealing a magic ring in his possession. Now Tatiana, a deranged and power hungry vampire, is hunting for her and will stop at nothing to accomplish her task.
Chrysabelle takes refuge on the other side of the world, with her aunt Maris. She hides the golden sigils that mark her as comarré and tries to assimilate into human culture. But it doesn't really work out. She crosses paths with Mal, a cursed and outcast vampire. And through a string of events neither intended, he becomes her new patron.
Mal doesn't need any new problems. The curse he lives with keeps him on the edge of sanity. His only companions are a spirit and a shapeshifter tied to him by circumstance. He can't feed properly; he is shunned by his kind. Yet, something in him calls to Chrysabelle. I'd like to say this turned into a romance, but I can't. There are moments it seems so close, but we don't quite get there. Grr.
They do, however, become something of a team... working together against Tatiana. As the book unfolds, we learn more about her dark plans and what they'll mean for the world. We also learn more and more about the comarré: their secrets and their legacy. The world building is unique and complicated, in parts. It took me awhile to feel invested in the story. The first half didn't grab me the way the second half did. There was too much time spent from Tatiana's POV. Way too much. And honestly, I think the book may have been better served with some tightening up, especially early on. Things just didn't feel like they were really moving forward for awhile.
I did become more invested over time. Of course, part of that was me being greedy for the moments of connection between Chyrsabelle and Mal. And while they never did get where I wanted them to be, I think there is definite groundwork to move in that direction in later books. Tatiana makes for a formidable villain and the big reveal about her at the end actually managed surprise me, so kudos to the author for that. There were some strong secondary characters, as well.
I feel pretty confident that I'll read the next installment in the series. Hopefully, it will pick up the pace a bit and give me more of the connection between our hero and heroine that we saw the beginnings-of in this book. 3 1/2 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley