Title ~ Blood Bathory: Absence Of The Sun
Author ~ Ari McKay
Publisher ~ Torquere Press
Published ~ 1st July 2014
Gaia’s theriomorphs may have gravely injured Elizabeth Bathory, but they face new challenges now that her daughter Anna has instigated a coup against her mother. An appeal for help from Antonio, Marielle’s European deputy, results in new revelations for the younger theriomorphs about the origins and nature of the enemy they’ve been fighting for so long -- revelations which also change how Evan St. John sees his role in the war.
Tyr Gustavson -- a theriomorph who has been feral since 1945, grieving the death of his partner Aaron -- and Adam Carson -- a fighter pilot who was turned into a vampire against his will -- enter the picture, both of them still fighting the specters of their experiences in WWII. As the theriomorphs attempt both to block Anna’s moves against them and to find and destroy Elizabeth once and for all, Tyr and Adam are drawn together, despite Tyr’s hatred of vampires. When Tyr pushes Adam away out of fear, Adam accepts a desperate, suicidal mission to find Thrace, the original nosferatu. If their desperate plan works, the theriomorphs would have the opportunity to destroy not only Elizabeth, but the sire of all vampires. But if it fails, they might have unleashed a force which could lead to the destruction of them all -- and perhaps even of Gaia herself.
This is the second in the Blood Bathory series and, give or take a couple of weeks it carries on more or less from the end of the first story which was left on a mild cliff hangery note, more of a "to be continued" vibe really. If you've read the first you'll be pleased to see that all the previous characters are back, including Will and Evan the MC's from Blood Bathory: Like The Night whose personal journey ended on a happy note but with things still pending in the vamp/shifter stakes!
The centre of each story is obviously the love story, but it's not all sex and romance. This series is very much story lead and to be honest because this is the follow up it doesn't make it easy to review without giving out too many spoilers but what I can tell is that the majority of book one is set around evil vampire, Elizabeth Bathory (the real life Countess and historical serial Killer) who, in the 1500's, murdered and then bathed in the blood of the numerous young women she killed, believing it would keep her young and beautiful. In this take on her tale of horror, she's turned by an even more ancient Vamp who recognised the true evil inside her, allowing her to carry on a reign of terror for centuries, gathering everyone who she covets for their beauty. Turning them to keep as one of her minions, all whilst running a highly prestigious European high design house under the name Elizabeth Nadasdy. A cover that allows her to hire unknown, unmissable models who continue to feed her blood lust.
The main plot of the first book is about how fashion photographer Evan St John, having been turned against his will, escapes her clutches and with the help of his "straight" best friend and soon to be lover, Will Trask (a police officer) joins forces with a set of underground shifters, or Theriomorphs as they're known in this universe, who are enemies of the Vampire community and are trying to destroy her and bring her, and her evil empire, down. Not an easy task as all of the guys involved find out and one that changes Wills life in ways he never imagined.
I'd definitely recommend reading in order because book one is also the crux of the world building and guide to what's happening in the supernatural realm that writing team Ari McKay have cleverly constructed and even though each one is a separate couples story and some new characters are introduced, the basic story lines follow on from each other so you need to know the ins and outs of all the interconnecting sub plots to fully get what's going on. I'd say if you picked this up as a standalone you might just get the gyst to a point but I don't think you'd get the full enjoyment out of it.
So back to Absence Of The Sun ......
Evan and Will are happily together and Elizabeth is still 'around' (to find out how you do need to read book one) but there are other factions from the vamp world to contend with, namely Elizabeth's daughter and one other who's even more evil than the blood bathing bitch. Then there's some important revelations brought to the fore about the roles that reluctant Vampires Evan and Adam— a World War Two pilot also turned against his will by Elizabeth— have to play in this longstanding war between the blood suckers and the Theriomorphs.
This is primarily Adams story and Tyr's, a tiger theriomorph who lost the love of his life during the same vampire attack in the 1940's that resulted in Adams kidnap and turning. They actually meet fleetingly at this stage and Adam feels a passing attraction but realising that Tyr is taken he never acts on it. For different reasons after the tragic event that changed their lives forever, both Tyr and Adam have been hidden from the world for over 70 years. Tyr purposely in his animal form that he refuses to change back from, and Adam, now a vampire but locked away in a sarcophagus for resisting Elizabeths attempts to turn him to her side. Tyr's hatred for vamps is not a great basis for working together, never mind the chance a possible relationship but still Adam finds himself pulled romantically towards the gorgeous but reticent red headed tiger, whose grief for his dead lover clouds his judgement and the possibility of him ever loving again. Feelings,however, have to be put aside because both their skills are needed to help in the fight, so the two of them have to learn to work together as they join forces with the rest of the gang to rid the world of evil. Then on one of their missions they're paired on an undercover operation, and some role playing leads to a situation that inadvertently bonds them in ways that leads to an emotional impasse for Tyr and definite danger for Adam.
I'm really liking this series a lot, it's filled with engaging, likeable (and of course not so likeable) characters who pull you into the story in a way that has you not just rooting for the guys to make it in the romantic stakes but also has you really invested in seeing the fight through to the finish with them against the depraved, wicked Vampires, ghouls and monsters the authors have created. I love that Ari's theriomorphic shifters are so diverse in their animal forms. Not all of them are the expected, large, predator shifters like wolves, bears and big cats, there's also domestic cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, birds... and the list probably goes on. Each one of them used for the traits that will suit the mission, be it strength, cunning or agility. Then being guardians of life, there's also the mystique of Gaia brought in, the ideal of what we know as 'Mother Nature', nurturer of life and sworn enemy of the vampires, who only bring death and destruction. All things that give this a slightly different and interesting twist on the usual blood sucker and shapeshifter lore.
There's steamy sex, although in retrospect, more in the first book... not quite so much in this one, and kick ass action. A smattering of blood and gore, some violence, lots of intrigue and plotting from both sides as they try to outwit each other—not without casualties from both sides, so as well as the love story there's plenty of edge of your seat moments to keep you hooked. I'm loving the world building and the way that the excitement is building up. If I have any complaint, it's that I wanted more page time with the evil guys. I wanted to see more of what they were getting up to in the background and a bit more of their vile doings. They seemed to take a bit of a backseat to what was happening in the good guy camp, which I do understand...this is Adam and Tyr's love story at the end of the day...but Ari McKay have made the bad contingency so tantalisingly despicable that I wanted to see more of them and their dastardly dealings! I wanted more ghoul action and ghastly goings on. But that's the greedy side of me showing...always digging for more, Lol, and it's not as if the McKay team haven't given us decent length books. They have. Because it's the world building one, the first novel is actually a longer than normal m/m read and book two is also a decent length so it's really just me being a book diva! Having said that the vamp action steps up a notch towards the end of this story when we meet finally meet Thrace...Elizabeth's sire. Now he IS the stuff of nightmares!
Fangy, furry fun but still with emotional undercurrents that make this a series I'll be sinking my (not so sharp) teeth into for as long as Ari McKay decide to treat us to it. If you like your paranormals to have a strong base story as well as the requisite m/m romance then I think you'll really enjoy this series. Overall a very strong 4 star rating for me, with probability of that rising as the excitement racks up even more. Once again a happy resolution in the love department but definitely more of a cliffy style ending with this instalment so I'm waiting with bated breath now to see where the story takes us, and if I'm reading it right I think I'm going to get my wish of some extra trembly, ramped up vamp action and ...doing my best Bela Lugosi impression...."I vaant it ...and I vaant it NOW... muahahaha!" ***shivers***
Buy It Now
Blood Bathory: Like the Night
A Word From Ari McKay
Thanks to everyone at Sinfully Sexy for having us back again, this time for the release of the second book in the Blood Bathory series! As we’ve mentioned on our blog, Blood Bathory has a special place in our hearts, having been originally created as a fictional television show in one of our stories before we became professionals. The first book, Like the Night, covered many of the characters and situations we’d come up with for the “show”, albeit sometimes in a very different way. Absence of the Sun, however, delves into completely new territory, with new characters and situations we’d never envisioned in the first book!
While Absence of the Sun picks up only two weeks after Like the Night ends, there is an immediate shift in the dynamics. First is the introduction of Marielle Du Lac’s European deputy, Antonio, who is the second oldest theriomorph in the world. Second, we shift from America to Europe, and delve far deeper into the history of the theriomorphs, and especially of the vampires. The origin of the Nosferatu is explained, and there is a surprise twist that we don’t think anyone could have seen coming! The nature of the war is also revealed, and the level of danger ratchets up immensely. While Elizabeth Bathory might be down for the moment, don’t count her out - and don’t think there aren’t things even worse than she is in the world!
One binding theme in the series is loss and how the characters deal with it. In the first book, there was Evan dealing with the loss of his sister, then of his humanity. Will had to deal with the loss of Evan, and then when Evan came back he was face with Evan’s loss of himself. Now in the second book, Tyr Gustavson is still dealing with the loss of his lover over seventy years after it happened, and Adam Carson is dealing with the theft of his mortality and seven decades of his life. As the characters grow and try to find their way toward love and acceptance, we’ve endeavored to show the strength of the human spirit and the gains to be had when people discard their preconceptions and look beyond the obvious.
We hope everyone continues to enjoy the Blood Bathory journey. We’re currently working on the third book, and again there will be old characters and new ones, action and adventure, danger and terror and, most of all, love. Because as we all know, in the end, love is what will truly conquer all.
About Ari McKay
Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who collaborate on original m/m fiction. They began writing together in 2004 and finished their first original full length novel in 2011. Recently, they’ve begun collaborating on designing and creating costumes to wear and compete in at Sci Fi conventions, and they share a love of yarn and cake.
Arionrhod is an avid costumer, knitter, and all-around craft fiend, as well as a professional systems engineer. Mother of two human children and two dachshunds who think they are human, she is a voracious reader with wildly eclectic tastes, devouring romance novels, military science fiction, horror stories and Shakespeare with equal glee. She is currently preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.
Ari McKay will be gifting one lucky reader an eBook of Blood Bathory: Absence Of The Sun. All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.