Warriors at Heart
What do a 450-year-old vampire in search of redemption, a newly turned vampire determined to live her afterlife on her own terms, an avowed vampire slayer, and a kick-ass virgin in love have in common? And what does an enchanted, wise-cracking lizard have to do with it?
When two couples are caught in the middle of vampire politics and deadly affirmative action, anything can happen, but survival is what really matters. Swords swing, heads roll, and love…well, that’s another story.
Nic is a warrior sworn to kill vampires and Fiona is a kick-ass virgin. Together they form a partnership of necessity, but he wants it to evolve into more. Ivan is a 450-year-old vampire just looking for peace and quiet, and Annie is a newly converted vampire who’s pissed her plans for the rest of her life have been ruined. They’re the lone survivors of a hit gone bad.
These four must decide to band together and fight…or kill each other. They’re all warriors at heart, but can they be lovers instead of fighters?
Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, D/s elements and themes, male/male sexual practices, strong violence.
Warriors at Heart is a tale of parallel love stories, one human and the other vampiric. Nicodemus and Fiona are human, and they are vampire assassins. They meet when Nic is sent on a mission to raid a vampire coven which is about to feast on a group of helpless virgins. Fiona, a skilled practitioner of martial arts, happens to be one of these victims, and when Nic arrives to break up the “frenzy” he discovers naked Fiona wielding a sword and whacking off the heads of several vampire assailants. It is, of course, love at first sight.
Ivan is a 450-year-old vampire. He is cantankerous and demanding, and he’s obsessed with his own power. When he first lays eyes on the newly-converted female vampire Annie, he is almost immediately swept off his feet. She’s feisty and resistant to authority, and to make matters worse, she’s a beautiful blonde.
Initially the two couples are at odds with one another, bitter enemies. Nic holds within his heart a deep prejudice and hatred towards vampires in general, being that his parents were victims of vampire conversion while Nic was still in his childhood. At the age of 18, he vows to avenge his parents’ fate, and he becomes a professional vampire slayer, working for the underground international organization called the Council of Twelve. His mission is to kill vampires, and he is specifically commissioned to seek out and destroy Ivan and his new bride Annie.
Fiona has a troubled past of her own. She was raised in an abusive environment where she saw her mother work as a prostitute out of their own home. Her step father was physically abusive to both her and her mother, and Fiona flees the home at the age of fifteen. She studies martial arts and vows to be the polar opposite of her mother. She is going to be strong and chaste, and no man is ever going to abuse her the way so many did her own mom.
Ivan is lonely and bitter. He’s lived for over four centuries in a state of damnation. He finds his life as a vampire utterly unfulfilling and meaningless. He’s jaded and hostile. When Annie comes into his life, though, it all begins to change. He falls deeply in love, and suddenly finds the will to go on.
Annie was converted against her will, and she is distraught over the loss of her dreams. She’d planned to go to medical school to become a doctor, and the thought of killing other human beings sickens her. Although by nature she possesses a lust for human blood, she abhors the thought of being a predator. She yearns for an escape, a way to satisfy her needs while continuing to honor the sanctity of human life. It is an awkward twist of irony that she ends up falling in love with a brutal sociopathic killer.
The relationships of both couples evolve over the course of the story, and ultimately their paths converge. The humans and vampires finally have to decide whether they will join forces with one another in order to accomplish a common goal. Will they be able to set aside their prejudices and hatred, or will they forever remain bitter enemies?
There were many elements of this story which I found to be very impressive. I especially appreciated the manner in which the female protagonists were portrayed. They were strong and independent characters which defied the stereotypical roles of most romantic female leads. The power shift within the story definitely leaned in the direction of the women, and I always enjoy that sort of dynamic where a cocky man falls for a confident woman.
Equally impressive is the manner in which the vulnerabilities of each of these four strong characters are exposed. They all have walls of resistance, and one-by-one these walls start to crumble. This added to the development of the characters and made them multi-dimensional.
I was quite pleased by the manner in which the character Ivan arced during the story. Initially I viewed him as evil and corrupt, and of course utterly selfish. I enjoyed seeing how his heart softened as he fell in love and found the will to go on. He certainly was not the only character to evolve, though. All three of the other central characters completed their own metamorphoses as well.
There were three issues which I had with the story, and I would be remiss if I did not point them out. I do not feel that any one of these criticisms in any way detract from the overall positive perception I have of the book.
Firstly, I take issue with the manner in which the gay characters in the story are portrayed. Although this was not a m/m fiction or gay romance, by any stretch of the imagination, it did contain two gay characters who were killed off early in the plot. It also presented a gay sex scene. The first of these characters was the vampire slave boy of Ivan, and his name was David. David was presented as a whiny, dependent, immature nymphomaniac. Not only was I disturbed by this sort of stereotype, but I also was at odds with the manner in which his submissive nature was presented. I’m uncomfortable with the notion that a submissive is a weak and pathetic person. Contrarily, I regard the role of sub as being one which requires tremendous internal strength and self-esteem.
The other gay character was a vampire named Draco. He is a supposed to be Dominant, yet he is presented as a flamboyantly flaming queen who has an addiction to pedophilia. In truth, this element of the story almost caused me to abandon the book altogether. I wish the author had simply left out the gay characters entirely. They add nothing at all to the story, and they left a really bad taste in my mouth.
The second issue I have with the story relates to the point of view in which it was written. Actually there were several, and they often were confusing. Multiple viewpoints were presented within several of the climactic scenes. I understood the intent of the author, wanting to portray the thoughts and feelings of each of the central characters while the action was happening, but I felt that the way in which the POV shifted so rapidly back and forth made it seem choppy. To be honest, it seemed to me that when the manuscript was originally written, it was done so haphazardly, without regard to point of view at all. It seems that then either the author or an editor went back through and attempted to dissect each scene and separate the points of view. If this indeed was the case, I understand the dilemma that the editor faced. It is nearly impossible to correct this sort of confusion without doing a complete re-write of the original material.
My final criticism relates to the cheesy humor which was employed. The character of Nic had a pet lizard named Cho who was able to communicate with him telepathically. They engaged in constant dialogue, and most of it was sarcastic banter. It reminded me of the relationship that Knightrider Michael Knight had with his car in the 1980’s television series. The rest of the story as well was laced with this sort of sardonic humor. It seemed more like sit-com dialogue, and it was not to my liking.
In truth, I think that if you are a big fan of the Vampire Slayer television series, this book would be a perfect read for you. It has the same exact sort of feel, and I could easily see the author as being a lead writer for such a screenplay.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I felt the writing itself was very strong. The author’s vocabulary is impressive, and her character development is outstanding. I admit that the book was a bit out of my comfort zone, and I would caution readers to take into account that my review is not without bias. I recommend the book to fans of the WB television channel and to readers who enjoy a lighter type of literature.
Review by Jeff