After a very unproductive week due to being laid low with a lovely Sinus Infection, I am glad to be back in the reviewing seat and starting off my catch-up with a review of Lore & Lust by Karla Nikole. This was one I discovered via Jake (is reading) and between the beautiful cover and his review, I was curious and decided to give it a go and wound up enjoying it immensely.
The slow burn vampire romance you didn’t know you needed…
Haruka Hirano is alive, but not quite living. Surviving but not thriving. As an elite purebred vampire in the twenty-first century, he is broken. Content in his subpar existence.
He is done with life. But life is not finished with him.
When he receives a formal request to oversee an antiquated vampire ritual at Hertsmonceux Castle, Haruka grudgingly leaves his home to meet another purebred. The vampire is not what he expects. Truly, he is unlike any vampire Haruka has ever encountered: cautious, innocent and with the warmth and gravitational pull of the sun.
Lore and Lust is an exploration of cultures, contemporary society and romance. It puts a whimsical spin on traditional vampire lore, while also creating a vivid new world where love is love. No questions asked.
Mature sexual content.
Lore & Lust has necessitated the creation of two new badges – ‘Love is all around’ because this is very much a romance which is something that I rarely read, and ‘guilty pleasure’ because this is one of those books that you kind of want to curl up away from the world and read. It’s not something I would normally pick up, and the last thirty per cent or so had me needing to take several breaks (when it warns of sexual maturity, it means it), but this was a book that I fell in love with from the start.
The romance aspect of this book was done exceptionally well, and the progression from strangers to friends and then lovers felt very natural and had that delicious pacing of a slow burn. Even better, the book takes the time to establish both Nino and Haruka as individuals, exploring their similar yet differing roles in society, their histories and experiences, while using those aspects to bring them together. (It will also leave you wanting to hug both of them – or maybe that was just me). I just loved reading about their relationship, from the very early cautious stepping around one another as strangers, to friends with the promise of more and then the MORE, and I couldn’t put it down, because I wanted them to be together and to find happiness – because neither of them had, had easy experiences, and you couldn’t help but be invested in their story.
The worldbuilding was interesting. Lore & Lust offers an interesting take on Vampires, one that spans an entire society and dips into politics, business, and culture. I liked the concept of Vampires feeding from one another to maintain the purity of their own bloodline (although the rationale is a little questionable, it’s an interesting take on vampiric feeding), and that the purity of the blood could affect both their health and abilities, as well as the relationships and agreements that spawned between different Vampires and different generations of vampires. I also adore bonds/bonding ceremonies and I like the different approaches here, and how central it is, not just to the world as a whole, but especially to Haruka and Nino, so that immediately gets my vote.
However, as much as I loved this book, that isn’t to say that there aren’t some holes where the plot beyond the romance is concerned. Throughout the book, we are offered glimpses of the wider world of the vampires, from the differences between Purebreds like Nino and Haruka to the different generations to the fact that humans are aware of the existence of Vampires and coexist with them, and even seek them out as partners. However, for the most part, that is all that it is, glimpses that promise more, and I was left with a lot of questions. About the Vanishing – an event that is mentioned in a historical sense but becomes more and more important towards the end of the book. About the political structures of the Vampires – we get to see some, both in England and abroad, but it would be nice to see more and to see how that integrates with the human world. Then there is the obsession with Haruka’s research the titular ‘Lore & Lost’ which lead to some conflict without ever being properly explained. With the plot playing second fiddle to the romantic and character aspect of the story.
It’s a fun world with the potential to become more. And I know that this was the first book in the series, with the second book due out at the start of April (and pre-ordered because I couldn’t resist), and I hope that we will get to see more of this world, and the Vampire Society hinted at in this book, as well as answers to the many questions that both the characters and I have. However, between the characters, the well-written romance and Nikole’s easy, engaging writing style this was a very enjoyable read, and it has left me glad that I have ventured beyond my usual barriers.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.