The Blood Lust Trilogy is a three-part novel written by the highly successful self-publishing author Zoe Winters. Set in a world much like our own, with added preternaturals, the book serves as a teaser which will leave you lusting for more. It actually comprises of three novellas — Kept, Claimed, and Mated — which are written from different characters’ perspectives. And while this is clearly a romance, there is little in the way of actual graphic scenes, meaning that the stories are likely to be enjoyed by a pretty wide range of people.
You may remember my review of Kept (the first novella) from a while ago. I thought to ask Zoe for review copies for the other two novellas, and am happy to share my thoughts on the second one with you today.
For a vampire, Anthony isn’t a picky eater, but he’s drawn to Charlee’s blood more than any other. Like a fine wine saved for a special occasion, he’s denied himself this pleasure. But one night, high from the potent magical blood of another, he claims his prize and loses control. Ashamed of almost killing the one woman who means anything to him, he wipes her memory of the event. When Charlee awakens with complete amnesia, Anthony is the only one who can clean up the mess he’s made.
The story picks up right where Kept left off, except — instead of following Greta — it follows Anthony’s blood lust daze which leads him to Charlee. The end result is he wipes Charlee’s memory completely clean — she can’t remember her name, her dog, or anything else. And there couldn’t be a worse time for this to happen, as vampire politics are heating up.
This was the strongest of the three novellas. Not only did it focus on vampires (yay!) but I really connected with Charlee as a character, and sympathized with her plight. And beyond that, I felt that the male protagonist was far more developed and conflicted: as a vampire, he has a darkness to him that he will always carry with him, and that makes their relationship all the more interesting. It helps that the same witty dialogue I enjoyed in the first book is carried throughout this one, too — characterisation is definitely one of Winters’ strengths.
I also found the plot a lot more meaty this time around. Besides the obvious thread — Charlee’s amnesia — there is a vampire tournament involved, along with the introduction of Jane, who stars in the last novella of the trilogy. It’s a story of struggles: Charlee fighting valiantly with her amnesia and also with her mixed feelings for Anthony, Anthony struggling with his feelings for the “just human” Charlee, vampires doing their political manoeuvring… It all adds up to a tightly written, well paced novella.
The world-building was as before a fascinating and unique take on the supernatural world, hidden in plain sight. I particularly liked how non-sentimental Winters’ vampires are: not sad and moping, but with ambitions of their own. And it was also interesting to see their differing political agendas and beliefs on matters such as blood drinking, mate claiming, and the level of respect owed to humans. Charlee is thrown head first into this confusing society and it is a testament to her strength as a character that she handles the situation admirably.
So what didn’t I like? Well I definitely think that the first few chapters from Charlee’s point of view are a little weaker than in the second half of the novella, mostly because Charlee is so (understandably) confused that she needs a lot of “telling” — her best friend Greta immediately shows up and tells Charlee who she is, their history, etc. And Charlee took the information overload quite calmly; I would have preferred to really sink down into her confusion and fear. However, this really improves throughout the novel as Charlee is thrust into situations unfamiliar even to her unamnesiac-self (i.e. having to stay with Anthony).
Anthony’s point of view on the other hand was great. I loved the insights into vampire culture, and I really liked his darker, more calculating side. Firstly, he’s a heck of a lot sexier than the male lead in the first book, which is always a plus! Secondly, the stakes felt a lot higher this time around. Given the political upheaval, Anthony is at risk of losing so much more than a relationship if things with Charlee go wrongly, and the added tension really pulled me in.
Overall, Claimed is a highly entertaining light read which showcases Zoe Winters’ writing at its best. It’s a story that pulls you in: you cannot help but empathize with the two lead characters because they have so much to gain — or lose — from the success or failure of their relationship.
In sum, if you like supernatural romance, vampires, or any combination thereof, this is the book for you.
This book is one of my 100+ Reading Challenge!