Filler content with lesbian vampires in Scotland

Yes, that header is a deliberate attempt to boost my search engine standing, though there’s always the risk it could draw in entirely the wrong crowd.

This review appeared in The Third Alternative #39:-

A TASTE FOR BLOOD: DIANA LEE

Harrington Park Press pb, 389pp, $19.95

This is billed as lesbian vampire erotica and is the story of the young Carisa, who is seduced by Ryan, more formally known as Lord Wolf, in reality a woman masquerading as a man to retain her power and social standing, but also an eight hundred year old vampire. The two elope together, posing as man and wife and setting up court at Ryan’s ancestral home in Victorian Scotland. Carisa is made into a vampire and has to learn not only to use her powers responsibly, but also deal with vampire politics and Edinburgh’s vampire Queen Alyssa, who sees Ryan as a potential rival. Ryan tells Carisa of her past and the important part Carisa’s family have always played in her life, with several of her ancestors as lovers, but neglects to mention the role Carisa is to play in her plan for revenge on Blake, the one who made her into a vampire.

I have mixed feelings about this novel. It picks up on just about every vampire cliché in the book, all the power politics stuff and vampires as aristocrats. The writing is at times clumsy and inelegant, while the way in which sex scenes are interposed at regular intervals, lively as some of them are, eventually becomes a bit tiresome. And yet I did find myself identifying somewhat with the characters and feeling for them, with powerful psychological twists in the narrative, such as Ryan’s reluctance to be penetrated because Blake raped her. Lee draws a comparison between the vampire’s lot and that of a woman/lesbian in Victorian society which gives the novel an effective subtext and still speaks to readers in the present day. You suspect that, for many of the couple’s enemies, lesbianism is more of an issue than the bloodsucking. Carisa’s training in the use of her vampire abilities is handled convincingly, while both period and setting, Victorian Edinburgh, are brought to compelling life on the page. There is plenty of social commentary on issues of the day, not just the rights of women but also the plight of the poor, with Carisa all fired up to do good works, and Ryan a socialist in everything but name, with intriguing ideas about human mores and social interaction. Finally the bittersweet ending has a powerful appeal, the suggestion that even Ryan with all her abilities can’t always have things her own way, has in her quest for revenge lost far more than she gained. On balance I think I liked it more than not. Just too bad about all the sex.

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