Content Warnings: Blood, Sexual Content
Elise Kova has finally released the third installment to her Married to Magic series: A Duel with the Vampire Lord!
Floraine is the forge maiden of her village, Hunter’s Hamlet. Her role is vital in smithing and creating silver weapons for the hunters to fight the vampires that attack them every full moon.
Ruvan is the current vampire lord that is searching for the curse anchor to free his people.
Fate has it that these two collide. They help each other uncover the shocking and sad truth of the curse. All the while falling in love with each other.
Sounds great, right? Well, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too far.
- A map!
- A unique take on vampire lore
- Wonderful world-building
- Felt drawn out
- Couldn’t connect with the main character
- Got confused with the minor characters
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
I enjoy the complex plot of the curse and it not being what everyone thinks it is, and the history of the vampires pre-long night. While it started off strong, it fizzled off midway through, leaving much of the story lackluster.
Much of Floraine’s conflict with being the forge maiden is constantly repeated at the beginning. And then her’s and Ruvan’s relationship dynamics are continuously repeated towards the middle/end of the book. It is tiring reading the same thing over and over with nothing being done to resolve the conflict.
Hell, the middle of the book is a good portion of repetitive relationship issues. It got old, quick.
To add to this, I wasn’t vibing with Floraine and Ruvan’s relationship at all. At first, it’s intriguing, but it later feels so underdeveloped and it just doesn’t convince me. I dreaded their scenes after a while, honestly.
Then, the revelation of Floraine’s blood lore is built up so much that by the time we fully understand what her innate abilities are, it is anti-climactic. But I did enjoy the magic of seeing exactly what happened pre-curse. It was fun to relive the past.
Overall, the plot is well thought out, but the execution isn’t my favorite. I think if it had been 50-100 pages shorter, the plot would have been more intense and wouldn’t feel so drawn out, and maybe the romance would hold better.
Honestly, I couldn’t connect with Floraine. She comes across as both juvenile and grown throughout. This made her emotionally & rationally volatile. I know people can be like this, but it just didn’t flow well in the story.
I also didn’t like her name. It was off-putting and I couldn’t apply it to her character. While this might seem like a small thing to get stuck on, I have to like the character’s name to connect to them. And I even base whether I’ll read a book on the names of the characters. The only reason I didn’t here is that I’m a fan of Kova’s work. So I didn’t read the back of the book.
But I digress, Floraine is a dull character for me. There is nothing special about her that made her memorable.
Growth-wise, she did grow as a character. She learned and adapted her worldview to the truths around her, which we like to see. I love her smithing occupation and how well it is incorporated into the story, but outside of these things, that is it.
Initially, I liked Ruvan. He was mysterious and had a dark edge to him. But he quickly fell flat and didn’t develop enough throughout the story. I expected a darker vampire lord than the one we got, but I admire his lightheartedness and openness to differing perspectives.
But outside of his drive to break the curse and his obsession with Floraine, he’s bland. I didn’t enjoy his character very much, nor did I like him as a love interest. Which is disappointing because I usually am enthralled with them in Kova’s world.
The minor characters of A Duel with the Vampire Lord are okay. They each play their roles well, but they are so similar that I got confused about who was who. Especially with Lavenzia and Vinny, and then Quinn and Callos.
Ventos and Drew are really the primary minor characters. And I can tell the difference through their dialog, but this doesn’t work with the rest of the cast.
None of them were really worth noting, unfortunately.
Since I’ve already mentioned this previously I’ll make it brief. The repetitiveness drove me crazy! It creates boring scenes and an uninteresting plot. The book seriously could have been shorter if not for this. Though, I will say it added tension in the relationship.
I also found the writing to lack setting and character descriptions. Beyond the initial introduction of the covenant, we really don’t see the minor character descriptions anywhere else. This made it hard to distinguish each character as the story progressed.
But outside of these two things, I love Kova’s writing. Her change of the traditional vampire lore is wonderful and refreshing. The fact that blood contains magic of various degrees and is used as rituals instead of feeding at times is really cool. I’m also glad she made vampires able to withstand sunlight.
I’m rating the book the way it is because we also received more information about Midscape and the vampire’s connection to the rest of the world. We’ve heard rumors about the vampires in the previous books, and this one answers all of those questions (which I love).
So, this tidbit of world-building and storytelling really saved this book’s rating.
I’m quite disappointed in this installment of Kova’s Married to Magic series. Her romances and plots are usually well done, but this one just falls flat. There’s so much repetitiveness that the story drags and the characters are relatively flat.
I really counted on this book to pull me out of my reading slump. But alas, it did not work.
The book felt a bit rushed and didn’t receive enough care when editing. But, the world-building and overall story ultimately saved A Duel with the Vampire Lord.
Regardless, I love the world of Midscape and I’ll read Kova’s next book in the series.
What did you think of the book? Did you like it or could you have done without it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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