I was working on my “Best and Worst of 2017” post and realized I still needed to review this because it’s definitely going to end up on my “worst” list.
This is one of the Dreamspinner Press books I bought before I decided to boycott them for knowingly publishing P2P fanfic and then just sort of shrugging and doing nothing when they were called on it. I had given Tachna’s The Inventor’s Companion 3 stars when I read it back in 2011 and liked it just enough to give her books another shot. This turned out to be a mistake on my part.
I finished this a month and a half ago, so apologies if my summary has some issues. Alliance in Blood stars Orlando, a vampire, and Alain, a wizard. Vampires and wizards have been at war for a long time. Although wizards view vampires as dangerous monsters, they’ve decided that they need to try to form an alliance with them because the wizards are also at war with dark wizards and could use some help. The vampires agree to the alliance 1) because it would give them a chance at having the same rights as wizards and 2) because Alain and Orlando accidentally form a bond and discover that wizard blood might allow vampires to walk in the sun again.
My issues with this book started in the author’s introduction and just got worse from there. In her introduction, Tachna writes: “I can very proudly state that I've never read a vampire story. Not Anne Rice, not Laurel K. Hamilton, not Bram Stoker. The closest I've ever come was a monologue I read in seventh grade called ‘Dress of White Silk.’” (4) I’m pretty sure that Tachna intended this as evidence of just how original her vampire story was going to be. However, as someone who has read and enjoyed a lot of vampire stories, I just found it insulting. Not having read a subgenre’s foundational works isn’t something for someone writing in that subgenre to be proud of, and it also isn’t necessarily an indicator that the work is going to be original, just that the author will have absolutely no clue whether it’s original or not. I also wasn’t encouraged by Tachna’s misspelling of Laurell K. Hamilton’s name.
The introduction went on to say that Alliance in Blood was originally just the first part of one very long novel that Tachna was forced to break into separate novels in order to make it more likely that a publisher would accept it. This brings me to one of Alliance in Blood’s many problems: its poor pacing. Most of the book is devoted to Orlando and Alain testing the effects of Alain’s blood and the blood of other wizards on vampires, all while angsting and panting over each other like horny teenagers. Sometimes characters recounted events for other characters’ benefit, which readers had to suffer through even though these events had already happened on-page. I have a feeling that Tachna’s one long book could have been much stronger if she had just ruthlessly edited it and cut out any unnecessary scenes.
Well, it might have been better. Pacing wasn’t the book’s only problem. Another huge issue was the way it missed all emotional notes that weren’t directly related to Orlando and Alain wanting to have sex with each other. Relatively early on in the book, Alain’s best friend Thierry’s not-quite-ex-wife was killed by dark wizards. Hardly anyone seemed to care or remember that this had happened. I could sort of accept Thierry’s reaction as his way of trying to keep it together and continue doing his job. I was disgusted by Alain, however. Instead of worrying about his best friend, he could barely keep his hands and mind off Orlando, a guy he’d only known for maybe a day.
Orlando and Alain’s relationship moved unbelievably fast. If I remember right, the whole book took place in the space of maybe three days. In that time, Orlando and Alain declared their love for each other, Alain allowed Orlando to brand him, and they ended up with a bond that put Orlando completely at Alain’s mercy. They had one absolutely ridiculous argument where Alain was supposedly in the wrong, and all I could think was that Orlando was expecting someone who was almost a stranger to basically read his mind and know automatically how he felt.
After many chapters of almost nothing new happening, the book ended with sequel bait (a bunch of vampires and wizards pairing off, with varying degrees of willingness) and a wooden and boring big battle. I’m glad that this was the only book in the series that I purchased, because I have no desire to continue on with this series.
I have no idea if this was a formatting problem or if it was intentionally done, but there were no scene breaks - the book moved smoothly from one scene to the next in the space of a paragraph. In one instance, this had the unfortunate effect of making it look like Orlando was calmly drinking espresso at the edge of a bloody battle like it was no big deal.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)