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Monday, March 26, 2012


Top-2012 Cover
Bottom-2003 Cover
Author:  Alexandra Ivy (aka Debbie Raleigh)
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence--3; Sensuality--2; Humor--2-3
Publisher and Titles:  Zebra
          My Lord Vampire (reprint, 2/2012)
          My Lord Eternity (reprint, 11/2012)
          My Lord Immortality (reprint, 12/2012)

    This post was revised and updated on 12/31/13 to include reviews of the second and third books in the series, My Lord Eternity and My Lord Immortality. Along with a review of book 1, the three reviews appear in chronological order below, following an introduction to the series and an overview of the world-building:

            INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES             
     These books are all reprints of Zebra Regency Romances originally published back in 2003 under the name of Debbie Raleigh. Take a look at the past and present cover art for book 1 to see the difference in emphasis. The top image is the newest iteration, with its focus on the dark and mysterious vampire lovercheck out his eyes! The bottom image is the much tamer 2003 version, with the focus on the lovely lady in her bright red gown. Note also the difference in the backgrounds: the moonlit bare trees vs. the lush garden. Tastes in paranormal fiction have definitely changed since this series first hit the bookstoreswith urban fantasy competing with romance for sales. The new cover is definitely a play for the urban fantasy market. The content of the stories, however, is definitely old-school paranormal romance. 

   In this world, vampires are born, not made. These vampires once lived among mortals, dining regularly on human blood, but their leader, Nefri, wanted to move her people away from their savage and brutal ways, so she used a magic Medallion to cast a veil, behind which the vampires have been living for the past two centuries in security and peace. Now that they don't need to hunt down human prey, they have no need for their previous vampiric powers: shape-shifting and mist walking. These vampires have no traditional vampire traits (except for their immortality and quick healing). They walk in the sun, eat regular food, are peaceful and kind, never flash their fangs, and aren't any stronger than a human. This lack of supernatural traits essentially makes them non-paranormaland kind of dull.

     Naturally enough, some vampires want to go back to the old ways when they were the superior society and humans were just a food source. To prevent the rogues from lifting the veil and forcing all vamps back to their old lives, Nefri has broken the magic Medallion into three amulets, giving the pieces to three young mortal women in Regency London. The rogues are now trying to hunt down the three women so that they can take possession of the amulets.

     When Nefri gave out the amulets, she bound each woman to her amulets so that she can only give it up by freely choosing to do so. It can't be taken forcefully from her. Aside from hiding the amulets in the human world, Nefri is also doing a bit of matchmaking, as she sends three sexy, handsome vampire men to protect the women and their amuletsThe rogue vampires are stronger than the three protectors because the rogues have drunk human blood and have regained their abilities to mist and shape shift, while the non-blood-drinking protectors must rely on their physical strength, their intelligence, and their abundant charm.

     This series has a connection to Ivy's GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY series in the character of Nefri, who has a romance with Santiago, Styx's best tracker. Their story is told in Darkness Avenged, which will be published in June 2013. My guess is that reissuing the three IMMORTAL ROGUES books just before publishing the Nefri-Santiago book is no coincidence; it's a money-making effort on the part of the author and the publisher. My opinion is based upon the fact that Ivy includes a lengthy excerpt from Darkness Avenged at the end of the second IMMORTAL ROGUES novel. Click HERE to read my review of the GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY series.

            BOOK 1: My Lord Vampire             
Top-2012 Cover
Bottom-2003 Cover
     The first heroine is Simone, Lady Gilbert, a blond beauty, supposedly a widow, who is causing the hearts of all of London's eligible males to flutter as she refuses to settle down with any of them. When she first meets Gideon Ravel, her vampire protector, she believes that she can use her beauty to control him just as she does every other man. But Gideon, of course, cannot be controlled. Against their wills, the two gradually fall in love. Meanwhile, the vampire rogue, Tristan Soltern, uses various violent and devious means to get his hands on Simone and her amulet. The plot follows the romance as the two must learn to trust one another and share their personal secrets in order to defeat their common enemy. 

     This is a stereotypical paranormal romance in every way, with lots of thick and heavy melodramatic dialogue (e.g., "Ah, my love, you do not know how you torture me." "Oh, my sweet, you fill my heart with joy."). The hero and the heroine are good and pure, if a bit arrogant, and the villain is evil to the core. You expect him to twirl his mustache and bellow, "Bwaaa, haahh, hahh!" like a cartoon villain every time he appears in a scene. Here, he mutters dramatically to himself, "Soon, my lady,...Soon you will be in my power and I will sink my teeth deep into you." (p. 214) The plot has several bumpy spots. For example, when Simone sees a centuries-old portrait that looks like Gideon, she doesn't consider for a moment that it might just be a painting of one of his ancestors. No, that wouldn't move the plot along quickly enough. Instead, based solely on this incident, she immediately concludes that Gideon is not human. 

     If you are a fan of the old-time paranormal romances, you'll probably enjoy this series (if you didn't read it back in 2003), but if you like more action and sensuality, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.

            BOOK 2:  My Lord Eternity             
Top-2012 Cover
Bottom-2003 Cover
     In the second book of this trilogy, the lovers are vampire Lucien Valin and Jocelyn Kingly, a beautiful young women who is living on her own on the edge of a London slum district rife with prostitutes, pickpockets, and hoodlums of all sorts.  Jocelyn wears the second piece of the magical Medallion. She was cast out by her parents after a "scandal" (which turns out to be much ado about nothing), and she has turned her energies toward saving the prostitutes and the abandoned children in the neighborhood. That is the first major weakness in the plot. It's impossible to believe that in Regency London an upper-class young woman would be living in a house by herself, much less a house in a slum. She also owns a farm nearby where she sends the prostitutes she "saves" so that they can live a normal life. Since laws at that time prevented women from owning property, how could she own both a house in town and a farm in the country? And who can believe that her parentsno matter how reprehensible they arewould allow their daughter to live like this, particularly after they threw her out for a far less scandalous action? The entire premise is completely implausible. 

     Lucien has always been a laid-back, fun-loving dude who hates responsibilities of any kind. He's not happy to be assigned as Jocelyn's protector, but he mans up and agrees to do his duty. When Jocelyn advertises that her attic rooms are for rent, Lucien answers the ad and talks her into letting him move in. Soon, he is accompanying her on her charity rounds and winning their games of chess and cribbage (claiming kisses for his reward). That's when the villain shows up in the form of Amadeus, one of the three vampires who are determined to retrieve the three parts of the Medallion and achieve world power. Amadeus is a boring villaina one-dimensional, all-bad, psychotic killer with no redeeming qualities and no depth to his character.

     As in the first book, the plot follows the romantic couple as they quickly fall deeply in love and try to keep the villain from achieving his goal. Once again, the language is over-the-top flowery and dramatic. Here are some cringe-worthy examples: 
     "In the silken night his long-denied passions shimmered with incandescent heat." (p. 78)
     "He would devote his heart, his soul, and his very life to her. He could offer no more." (p. 140)
     "Oh, my dove, you do know best how to touch my heart." Her breath caught at the fragile, wondrous moment. (p. 173)
     "Was it possible that less than an hour before, this maiden had been filled with the glorious, dazzling warmth of love? He would give everything he possessed, his very soul, to feel that warmth once again." (p. 1914)

    The silliest scene is the one in which Lucien comes upon Jocelyn as she is sewing a shirt for one of the homeless children. Lucien immediately picks up needle and thread and begins mending another shirt with perfect "tiny, utterly precise stitches." (p. 171) Even Jocelyn is surprised by Lucien's stitching ability. She says, "Everything you do is perfect....Do you have no faults whatsoever?" Lucien admits that he does have faults, but we never see them. He is an absolutely perfect herowhich makes him an absolutely uninteresting one as well. Earlier in the story, Jocelyn describes Lucien's perfectness: "Blast it all, he was so utterly beautiful. The chiseled perfection of his features. The faint bronze of his skin. the tawny satin of his long hair. The pure gold of his eyes. And above it all, the shimmering appreciation for life that crackled about him with an irresistible force. It seemed rather unfair that one gentleman should be so blessed." (p. 121)

     If you enjoy old-fashioned romance novels with big, strong heroes who rescue/protect/seduce lovely, fragile maidens, you might like this series, but if you're used to reading modern paranormal romances, this series is not for you. One last point: Although there are 344 pages in this book, the novel itself is just 286 pages long. The remaining 158 pages are devoted to lengthy excerpts from two other books: My Lord Immortality (third book in this series) and Darkness Avenged (an upcoming GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY novel featuring Nefri as the lead character). 

            BOOK 3:  My Lord Immortality             
Top-2012 Cover
Bottom-2003 Cover
     In the final book, the lovers are vampire Sebastian St. Ives and Amelia Hadwell, a beautiful young women who wears the amulet containing the third piece of the magical Medallion. Jocelyn is living on the edge of a seedy London neighborhood with her mentally challenged brother, William. She took William away from their parents when Mom and Dad threatened to commit him to Bedlam, an insane asylum. Amelia's brother is her greatest weakness, and as soon as sweet, gentle William is introduced, we (the readers) know immediately that the villain will use him against Amelia in an effort to get her amulet. That villain is Drake Ramone, an arrogant, psychotic, not-very-smart bad guy who is almost an exact replica of the villains in the previous two books.

    In this book, however, a new super-villain emerges. We got a hint of this mysterious scoundrel at the end of book 2 when Nefri began to suspect that the three villainous vamps who are after the Medallion are being controlled by an evil master vampire. 

     The plot follows Sebastian and Amelia as they work together to try to outwit Drake and fall deeply (and quickly) in love with one another. When Amelia gets the news that her lover is actually a vampire, she is more calm and controlled than the previous two heroines were. Once again, the hero and the heroine are perfect people with nary a negative trait between them. They are both extremely attractive, intelligent, reasonable, self-controlled, brave, courageous, kind, gentle, etc., etc., etc. I don't know about you, but I get kind of bored when the lead characters are flawless. It seems to me that a few imperfections make a character a great deal more interesting and considerably more fun to watch.

     As you might guess, the whole Medallion situation is resolved in the final scene, and the good guys come out on topa foregone conclusion since page 1 of book 1. Once again, the language is flowery and dramatic, the plot is extremely simple and straightforward, the villains are summarily defeated, and the lovers get their immortal HEA.

     Just as in book 2, this one ends with a lengthy excerpt from Darkness Avenged, the love story of Nefri and Santiago that is part of the GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY series. That book is due to be published in June 2013. 

     This series is not for everyone, primarily because it takes such an old-school, bodice-ripper approach to the romance. If you enjoy Amanda Ashley's paranormal romances, you might like these books. Both Ashley and Ives have the their virtuous couples waiting until after marriage to make it into the bedroom, and both adhere to rather formal language as they tell their stories. You should be aware that this series is nothing like GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY and that you won't need to have read this series to understand what's going on in Darkness Avenged.

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