Very enjoyable set of three connected paranormal mystery romance novellas about Gabe, a vampire slayer returning to Chicago from an extended period of vamp killing in Europe, and Harvey, the hot young vampire that has caught his attention and altered all his slayer assumptions.
After Last Stop and Dead in L.A., Lou Harper is becoming an auto-buy for me. I dig her straight-forward, unburdened writing style, her no-nonsense main characters, and the realistic and often very funny dialogue. (A part of my heart belongs to Harper's dialogue, both for its sharp humor, and how characters overlay their meaning in the words they chose to share with each other.)
Like Dead in L.A., which was two connected novellas about a paranormal investigator and his cranky lover, Spirit Sanguine is three novellas that involves the same characters and develops one larger story about their relationship as they solve the three episodic mysteries in each story.
The format worked really well, and for me, it was like reading a really good TV miniseries, one that has the episodic nature and also the overarching storyline and development. I loved Gabe and Harvey's chemistry, and how they grew to care for each other as well as enjoy their playful and sexy bedroom dynamic (especially with Harvey's mental rolodex of role-playing ideas.) I also dug Harvey's tenacity, especially when it came to challenging Gabe's assumptions. (Their first meeting boils down to Gabe wanting to kill Harvey and Harvey asking "Why? What have I done to YOU?" Which forces Gabe to think, "Wait, he's not a senseless killing vampire. Hmmmmmm..." And I loved watching Gabe's slow unravel as he found himself drawn back to Harvey, in spite of his honed slayer instincts.
Along with Gabe and Harvey, the side characters that dot the three stories are very colorful and interesting, from drama-drama human Dillon and his two vampire daddies, to "Dead Man" Denton and his ability to sense the traces of the recently deceased, to super-hot Jade, the elegant drag queen vamp that towers over the nightlife in her high heels.
I really dug the "vampire realism" in this story. Even though vampires are stronger and have certain special abilities like charming victims, there was an urban grittiness that made you feel you were still in modern day Chicago, riding the El train. (You were just riding it with a vampire.) In that way, It reminded a little of another realistically vampire book, JCP's Hemovore.
The everyday details of Gabe and Harvey's relationship, from what they stocked in the fridge to Gabe's near-constant fear of Harvey's driving abilities, all those little bits that popped in throughout the three stories also added some neat depth (and a lot of humor.)
Even though the book is three novellas, all together they're pretty long, at over 74,000+ words, so for me, it was both a good reading experience, and one that was nicely solid.
My only main niggle was that sometimes in the beginning of each novella, some information or details were repeated, which gave me the impression that the stories had at one point been separated and published at different times. (Except I believe this is their first time being printed.) That will probably bother you less if you're reading this book in pieces and stopping to take a break between stories. It felt a little repetitive reading straight through, but that's a small complaint.
Overall, I really enjoyed it, and I recommend it for anyone who likes their m/m with a paranormal twist. The romance angle is very good--understated a little because Gabe as the third person POV is understated, but still, very satisfying.
I'm a little sad that I can't watch this series on TV because it is such a great mix of characters, banter, romance, and action. Maybe someday...
I would definitely love to read more adventures with Gabe&Harvey. I'm psyched to see the author put up on Smashwords a free short story with them, and also there's an upcoming follow-up book that focuses on Dead Man Denton. I'm looking forward to checking those both out, but I'm also greedy, and wouldn't mind more after that.