Called by Blood

Called by Blood - Evie Byrne 4.5 starsAlexander Faustin was disappointed when his mother's first visionary dream brought a bride for his middle brother Gregor (BOUND BY BLOOD), so when finally the dream comes with his intended bride, he wastes no time and heads to Colorado to whisk her of her feet and carry her straight to the proverbial altar. But he didn't count on Helena MacAllister who is sure Alex is a stalker who has targeted her. Little by little Alex convinces Helena that she is his life mate but before they can walk away towards the sunset, there are some issues to be dealt with.Alex is a vampire but he tries hard to adjust to the human world by imitating their ways. Sometimes so hard that he tends to forget he IS a vampire. He is romantic, easy-going, charming, impulsive and gentlemanly. But despite his softer side and his high level of cuteness, he can be just as dominant and sexy as his brother Gregor (who stole my heart in BOUND BY BLOOD) is. Helena is great! Evie Byrne writes heroines that I can't but like. Helena is a feisty and take-charge kind of woman. She's bubbly and stubborn, a bit chaotic and impulsive. Indeed a perfect match for Alex. After blowing me away with BOUND BY BLOOD I knew it was going to be tough for CALLED BY BLOOD to reach those same heights and I was right, but still Byrne is anything but predictable. In the beginning of the book I had a big scare and just as I was thinking: "Oh no, Evie don't tell me you're going that way, please!" but fortunately she made a surprising retreating movement and went down the exact right path, making everything good and putting me straight. Because BOUND BY BLOOD was so good in my eyes I took into consideration that this installment would be less impressive, more sedated and would have less emotional impact on me and the first half definitely was all of the above. Not in the least because of Alex' character and personality. Contrary to his brothers' reluctance towards the idea of marriage and their mother's visionary dreams, Alex embraces the concepts of romance and marriage as wholeheartedly as he does everything else. This leaves only the hurdle of convincing his intended bride, which would logically lead to a less intense story than the previous one where both Gregor and Maddy were dead-set against ending up together. However about halfway through the tone of the book changes, and it gets even better than it already was, when Alex is forced to reveal to Helena who and what he is and not in the romantic, easy-to-grasp way he had intended to. What started out all sweet and romantic and fitting Alex's personality, became an intense and emotional when desperation, fear and guilt play a big part in the second half of the novella, with a crucial role for oldest brother Mikhail. While Helena fights to get a grasp on the fact that Alex is a vampire and learns to accept it because her growing feelings for him, Alex also learns to embrace and accept the fact that he is a vampire. Instead of pretending to be a normal human and doing things in denial of his vampirism. I absolutely loved the beautifully written second half of the book and the ending too, even if it was a bit sudden and I felt left hanging a bit. I wouldn't have minded an epilogue to show me how they were doing after the acceptance of their mutual feelings but I hope to see how Alex and Helena are doing in a future book, in Mikhail's story (DAMNED BY BLOOD) maybe?Evie Byrne is amazing. I really love the humor, originality and intensity in her writing. They go so well with the pace, the plot, the romance, the characters and the sex scenes. And those sex scenes, they are scorching and not to mention very original. Having read and reading plenty of erotic romance I am always happy when an author surprises me with original love scenes like the ones in CALLED BY BLOOD are. But my favorite scene of the book isn't even a love scene. It's the scene where Alex and Helena go to the grocery store to get provisions for a dinner Alex is going to cook for Helena. If I thought Alex was cute and sexy before, this scene had me utterly convinced.What I also like about Byrne are her characters. They are so lifelike and easy to identify with; I was expecting them to leap out of the pages (Ehm, read these novellas in e-format on NDS so I should say: leap out of the NDS) any moment. They are far from perfect people. They are flawed, with insecurities and weaknesses, but in a good way, a way that makes them extremely likeable. And their HEAs are not easily achieved. They have to "work" for it. I can appreciate that kind of HEA more than one that comes to the characters without them having to put effort into it. But I especially like Byrne's vampires. They are strong, alpha and sexy without being overbearing or Neanderthal. They pull off vulnerability in a way that doesn't take away from their sexy alpha vibe. It takes a skilful author to achieve that (Alyssa Day comes to mind) and Evie Byrne is such an author. Both books I have read in this trilogy match the personalities of each Faustin brother perfectly in setting, plot and heroine. I expect DAMNED BY BLOOD (Mikhail's book) will continue this excellent writing of Evie Byrne that, after just two installments, I've grown totally addicted to. I am definitely ready for Mikhail Faustin!