You would hardly, if ever, find vampire tales on my shelf, yet I must confess that never since Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has the story of a pair of star-crossed lovers elicit such sweet heartache and deep empathy from me as Teresa Medeiros’ Portia and Julian.
I’ve generally steered clear of vampire lores and werewolf legends, preferring magic and medieval blood and gore to the paranormal and grisly world of these bloodsuckers and shape-shifters. I find that I don’t really have the stomach for the macabre and twisted love-hate relationships. They give me the shivers!! However, if there’s ever a vampire romance that could potentially swing me over to the dark side, The Vampire Who Loved Me has the makings of it.
I’m no stranger to Ms Medeiros’ works, and quite a number of her novels (The Fairest of Them All, Charming the Prince and A Breath of Magic come to mind immediately) have found favour in my books. The Vampire continues five years from After Midnight. The reader never did get to find out what happened in the crypt between Julian and Portia in that book. The author continues here with hints of what could have occurred but the full extent of Portia’s relationship with Julian wasn’t really revealed until almost towards the end.
Here’s the synopsis from the back cover:
Julian Kane is back in town.
Once, as a girl of seventeen, beautiful, headstrong Portia Cabot saved the life of the dashing vampire Julian Kane—who marked her forever, then left to go in search of his soul. He returns five years later to find the enchanting young girl he left behind grown into a bewitching woman with a woman’s heart…and a woman’s desires.
Portia quickly discovers that Julian’s seductive and forbidden kiss can still make her crave the night…and his touch. But the Julian who has returned to London is not the vampire she remembers. His fruitless pursuit of his stolen mortality has reduced him to drunken debauchery. And a recent spate of murders makes Portia fear that the man she has always adored may truly be a monster.
Julian knows he must drive Portia away–but his passion and hunger for her grows more irresistible every time they touch. For years he has fought the temptation to embrace his dark gifts, never realizing that Portia’s love may give him the most dangerous gift of all…a reason to live…
What kept me glued to the book, what made me sat up half the night to finish the story wasn’t the mystery surrounding the incident in the crypt, but the poignant and I would say, Romeo and Juliet-like melodrama that permeates the protagonists’ journey to true love. You feel the palpable anguish and pain the family goes through, the quiet fuming and seething of passions and anger, the almost wistful sorrow and yearning between the main characters. You sigh, shake your head unbelievably at Julian’s dense and warped reasoning (I mean, why didn’t he kill Valentine sooner to regain his soul???), then you sigh once more at his human emotions of loneliness, unworthiness, gratitude (though some of it is misplaced) and undying love for a mere slip of a girl.
Even if the ending is a little too pat, but hey, it has to be in order for there to be a happily-ever-after, and tidy, this book is filled with witty repartee and clever wordplay to keep me engaged in the world of a Regency/ Georgian era vampire.