A year after the end of the war that brought them together, Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche have found a balance in their relationship: Jean drinks only Raymond’s blood; Raymond sleeps only in Jean’s bed. The demands of their public roles as president of l’Association Nationale de Sorcellerie and chef de la Cour of the Parisian vampires keep them busy dealing with fallout from the war and the alliance, particularly the not-always-successful partnerships between vampires and wizards.
The foundation of an institute to research and educate wizards and vampires about the implications of the partnership bonds only adds to those responsibilities. When political factions, both vampire and mortal, oppose their leaders’ decisions, the stress begins to affect Raymond and Jean’s deepening relationship. And when political opposition turns to vandalism and then to violence, they’ll have to find a way to reconcile their personal and professional lives before external and internal forces pull them apart.
If you liked the Partnership in Blood series as much as I did you will enjoy this spin-off. However, it is much different from the previous four books. Why?
It mainly concentrates on one couple, Jean and Raymond, instead of telling the stories of various couples. We meet Orlando and Alain, Sebastien and Thierry and others, but the main focus is on one couple. All the others are only side characters about whose lives we learn only very little if anything.
The story is less energetic. The war is over and there is no immediate danger to fight against. Therefore the pace is slightly slower until some occurrences force everybody to get out of their happy living routine and try to find out what is going on. There are some obstacles to overcome in regards to their plans with the institute, but they are not that big an issue.
The main couple is an established one. Jean and Raymond have been living together for some time and now they have to deal with how to shape their future together. There is no new love interest to pursue, no discovering the personality of someone new. Some anxiety, yes, but not the usual “I’m falling in love, does he love me back” kind.
Once I got my mind wrapped around all this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this “sequel”. And it is a sequel as well as a spin-off. It picks up after the war with Raymond being the president of l’ANS and a new institute to be opened to research the partnerships in more depth. At the same time it is supposed to educate wizards and vampires on how partnerships work and help them to find partners if they wish.
I had a problem with that education. It is a good idea to tell people beforehand what they are getting into, however, the instructors are not as open as I would have wished them to be. L’ANS is accused at some point of pandering, which is, of course, ridiculous. However, after those accusations Thierry points out that all partnerships (maybe with the exception of Marcel and M. Lombard, but they are a different league) turned sexual at one point, regardless of the previous preferences of the persons involved. Wouldn’t that be a very important aspect that needs addressing in those educational classes? It seems that all they tell the “students”, though, is that people can decide if they want to form a partnership before an actual blood exchange by checking if they are compatible in other ways. They say that they are in control over how the partnership develops. Nobody ever mentions that once blood is exchanged chances are you will have a sexual relationship. Even Jude and Adele who were NOT compatible in any way and hated each other’s guts had a sexual relationship, if you want to call it that.
At one point Raymond came over as the old prejudiced guy I thought he had shed. When Jean offers the Aveu de Sang his reaction was way over the top. He could have said, he will have to think about it instead of answering in such a dismissive way. Did Orlando treat Alain like cattle? I found this comparison with the branding quite unfair and harsh. It would have befitted a researcher of Raymond’s calibre to stop and think and maybe get an opinion of someone who knows before declining in such a rude manner. Jean must have considerable thick skin to not walk out the door for good after such a rejection.
Apart from those minor things it was a great continuation of the series which I liked a lot. I don’t know whether there is anything more planned, but the ending does not immediately suggest another spin-off or sequel. I really would have liked to see Adele and Jude come together. But that would have probably been a task to difficult even for Ariel herself .
For readers who liked the Partnership in blood series, this is a must read. To all newcomers I recommend to read the previous four books first, otherwise you won’t get much fun out of this one.
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