Blurb: As the Alliance wizard-vampire partnerships grow stronger, the dark wizards feel the effects and become increasingly desperate to find enough information to counter them, unaware of the growing strain of the blood-magic bonds on the wizards and vampires alike.
The conflict is spreading. The strife of uncomfortable relationships, both personal and professional, is threatening to tear up the Alliance from the inside, despite the efforts of Alain Magnier and Orlando St. Clair, Thierry Dumont and Sebastien Noyer, and even Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the Paris vampires, who is fighting to establish a stable covenant with his own partner so he might lead by example.
As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.
My thoughts: “Conflict in blood” is the third book in the “Partnership in Blood” series and you shouldn’t read this as a stand alone. If you haven’t read the first two books you will be at a loss as to what is going on. I’ll just talk about my thoughts about events and various couples while reading the book.
This contains SPOILERS!
Orlando & Alain: It’s time for Orlando to get over all his hang-ups. I know he and Alain met only three weeks ago, but to me the time felt much longer (and I think it also did to the characters). Thank God that towards the end of the book Orlando took some action and started to see this himself.
Sébastien & Thierry: What a great couple. When I started reading Alliance in blood I didn’t care too much for Thierry, but he’s really grown on me. Once he overcame his uneasiness and acknowledged his attraction he was great. Sébastien’s qualms were understandable, but since they were for other reasons than Orlando’s he was much quicker in letting them go. He’s a different calibre than Orlando and I like him a lot.
Luc & Magali: I’d like to see more of them, but am not at all sure this will come to pass, since they are tugged away in Amiens. I liked the little interaction that we got to see.
Jude & Adèle: I understand what’s driving them, and I can relate to a certain point, but the aggressiveness that is underlying every time those two are together is grating on me. They seem to be caught in a lust/hate relationship. The constant fight for supremacy between them is aggravating. When they had sex for the first time, before anybody knew what was going on, I disliked them even more. Once I found out the reason for their behaviour I sort of forgave them, only to find out later that they both had that petty “I need to get the upper hand” streak that I really hated. Adèle even more so than Jude. She is a intelligent, independent woman and shouldn’t let feelings like this get to her in that way. From Jude I didn’t expect anything better considering his background. The scene where he gets his revenge for her leaving him behind earlier was pretty bad. Yeah, she desired it (he tasted that) and enjoyed it (and this he didn’t anticipate; in fact he counted on that she wouldn’t, which makes the whole scene a bit dubious). Those two have found their match, I suppose, but I still don’t like them.
Eric & Vincent: Now here’s a surprise. A nice touch to work in a relationship which is not the common wizard/vampire connection. I suppose those two will play a big part in the last book.
David & Angelique: Another pairing that still have to find a way to settle their disputes. I thought they finally got around to it, but then they regressed into their standard behaviour. Still, from the latest events I understand that maybe there is still hope.
Raymond & Jean: Until the end of book two I had misgivings about Raymond, but I must admit that now he and Jean are almost my favourite couple. The dynamics between them were very good, balanced and they seem to have come into their own. I loved them when they were together.
Antonio & Monique: Good set up. I liked that Antonio found his partner among the enemy and how that worked out later on.
A point I don’t understand is why no re-enforcements are being called in from other places. The war must concern everybody. It seems that the dark wizards are all in Paris gathering around Serrier, so I would think that getting in more wizards and vampires from other cities (e.g. Amiens) would help the cause. And it also would make more powerful pairings possible.
What was the scene with Christophe about? He wasn’t mentioned again afterwards and neither was his fear of what might happen in the future. Is this some foretelling, so we know to be prepared?
Slowly but surely the loyalty of Serrier’s supporters (which in a lot of cases must be based on that they don’t see a way out of what they’ve gotten themselves into) is faltering. That process was shown in a subtle way, which I appreciated. By now Eric & Vincent would probably leave the minute they see a chance for it. Not necessarily to defect to the militia, but rather just to leave the whole affair altogether. And the way Monique made the switch was more than believable after everything that had happened.
The way Orlando is keeping up is astonishing. I would have expected him to be far less unassailable than he turns out to be. Alain seems to be in a worse state than he. Amazing! But thank God for that. That way the book ended on a positive note – if you can say that considering the trouble Orlando is in and given the fact that the wizards and vampires seem to be at a loss at the moment as to how to proceed to free him.
What I like about the whole story the most is that it is a story that focuses on the people and their interaction. Yes, there is a war going on, and war events play a part, but we are not constantly witnesses of battles and strategy meetings and what not (there are some, of course, but they are not the main theme). What we see most is how the couples deal with what happens to them and with each other. Everybody is entwined with everybody else. What happens to one affects all the others in some way or other.
One thing that made me very happy was that FINALLY someone meeting a really old vampire considers doing more than just sleeping with him. Not once in all the vampire books I’ve read the vampire’s lover / partner/ companion ever mentioned that they would like to actually pick his brain about past events. Except for Raymond. From the first vampire story I read I was wondering why nobody ever asked them anything about historical events or situations that they witnessed. You would think that people would go crazy over the opportunity to get first hand information from someone who was around a thousand or more years ago. Obviously not! Except for Raymond. Because of this I find him even more endearing now.
This was another great read. If you have already read the first two books in the series, “Alliance in blood” and “Covenant in blood” you will certainly pick this one up. And if you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend to get those two first. This series is fantastic. Once more the only drawback is that we have to wait until November to get the fourth and last part of the story.
Available at Dreamspinner Press