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Recent Release Review: A Duel with the Vampire Lord by Elise Kova

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Release date: 18 August 2022

Rating: 4/5

Book Boxes: Fae Crate (Special Edition), Book(ish) Box (Special Edition)

Synopsis: On the night of the blood moon, the Vampire Lord must die.

Floriane's position as the forge maiden of Hunter's Hamlet is one of reverence, for it is her skill that arms and protects the vampire hunters. She knows her place and is a faithful servant to the Master Hunter and her community... until the night of the blood moon. Until her brother is dying at the hands of the Vampire Lord Ruvan.

Wanting to defend her home at all costs, Floriane fights the vampire lord, ready to give her life if it means taking his. But Ruvan doesn't want to take her life... he wants her.

Kidnapped and brought to the vampire castle, Floriane is now blood sworn to the vampire lord. She is bound in mind and body to her worst enemy. But Ruvan isn't the fiend she thought he was. She learns the truth of the vampires: They are not mindless monsters, but a proud people, twisted and tortured by an ancient curse.

Ruvan believes that Floriane might be the key to ending his people's suffering. All Floriane wants is to defend her home. Loyalties are tested and the lines between truth and lie, hate and passion, are blurred.

When her dagger is at his chest, will she be able to take the heart of the man who has claimed hers?

A darkly-reimagined Snow White meets inspiration from Beauty and the Beast in an epic fantasy world of hunters, vampires, and curses that run deeper than blood. This stand alone is complete with a "happily ever after" ending. It's perfect for fantasy romance fans looking for just the right amount of steam and their next slow-burn and swoon worthy, enemies to lovers story.

While it is set in the Married to Magic universe, readers can start with this book. 



Book 3 in Kova’s Married to Magic series was a quite pleasant surprise for me. I was a bit let down with the second book in the universe, A Dance with the Fae Prince, but I loved the first one, A Deal with the Elf King. A Duel with the Vampire Lord touts quite a bit more pages than the first two installments, and it has a much more complicated plot structure to match. I loved Floriane and Ruvan, and the supporting characters, though I liked them, and not for lack of trying, managed to support but not steal the spotlight from the lovebirds.

ADwtVL’s strength lies in its plot. Its structure involves a complicated mystery surrounding a curse plaguing vampires while drawing inspiration from Romeo and Juliet (which in turn took its inspiration from Tristan and Isolde), though the characters are quite a bit older. I don’t see any Snow White in the narrative, though I could be missing something, but that’s also neither here nor there.

Floriane is the forge maiden of Hunter’s Hamlet, a tiny fort-like place of residence for a small outcropping of humans on the edge of the mist, the magical border separating the human world from the world of magical beings known as Midscape. She’s also the only woman in the hamlet who cannot make her own decisions about her life, including whom she will marry, and she lives at the pleasure of the Master Hunter. Her brother, a hunter—a citizen of the hamlet who defends the walls from monstrous vampires—secretly teaches her how to fight, and she, on the night of the blood moon, leaves the hamlet to try and help her brother fight but winds up getting carted off to the lair of the vampires instead. Once Floriane arrives at the vampires' castle, she is surprised to find that they are not the monsters she thought, and she spends the entire book helping them figure out how to end the long-standing curse plaguing both of their peoples.

I could go on and on about the things that made this book so engaging for me, but the biggest aspect I loved was the mystery of the curse that kept me focused on the events of the plot. My curiosity was constantly piqued, and wherever the plot went, I followed just so I could figure out what in the world was going on and how Florian and Ruvan were going to break this curse (and exactly what was the curse, anyway?).

Despite how much I loved the story, it did have a couple of drawbacks in it for me. The first was the pacing. I didn’t feel that the book dragged really, but it did chug along at a slower pace than the last 50 or so pages, which is where all of the mystery suddenly reveals itself and the characters quickly figure how to break the curse. I don’t know if the clues went right over my head, or if they weren’t really presented well enough for a reader to deduce what was going on, but I didn’t follow where the mystery was leading, and the sudden revelation of everything at the end was a bit of a shock to me. I had to go back and reread a few times to make sure I understood what was going on.

Additionally, I didn’t feel there was much romantic tension between the two lovebirds, which I could have been because the driving force of the curse overshadowed Ruvan and Floriane’s love story. The two certainly had chemistry, but the romance definitely took a back burner to the rest of the plot. I didn’t completely hate these drawbacks, but they did take away from what the main aspect of what the book claims to be, which is a romance first and foremost.

Taken from page 256 in the regular hardcover of ADwtVL.

I’ll also point out that I thought at the start that this series was only to consist of four separate books featuring an elf, a fae, a vampire, and a siren (not sure how I arrived at this conclusion). Many things about the series have changed since the first book was published, including the title for the second book, which according to my first printing hardcover copy of A Deal with the Elf King, was to be A Dance with the Fae Rogue. A Duel with the Vampire Lord hints at at least 4 more installments, maybe 5, with magical creatures such as a mer (which could be in addition to siren or the same thing), lykin, dryad, and dragon. I think with the explosion in popularity of the series, we’ll definitely see all of these. I don’t care if that’s wishful thinking. I have to be an optimist sometimes. I do live in fantasyland.

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