Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Vampire Mistress by Samantha Calcott

 Billed as a "lesbian retelling" of the classic horror tale (one of the original "Gothic romances"), Vampire Mistress does not disappoint. We open with Bec Renfield--a woman who used to have an obsession with insects--and her friend Johanna Seward making plans to renovate a 19th century asylum they picked up for a song and intend to transform into a modern, low-cost mental health facility. As they sift through all the patient records, Johanna finds a file on R.M. Renfield, a patient whose initials are the same as Bec's. Bec doesn't believe in coincidences, and she becomes fascinated by the case of the patient, who was admitted with "a pet and a case of religious mania.

Enter Dr. Victoria Draconis, a graduate of a university in Transylvania who is willing to work emergency late-night shifts if necessary. Bec feels an immediate erotic charge upon meeting the doctor, and a connection is established. From there things turn decidedly (and deliciously) erotic in a story that embraces all the vampire novel tropes (fog, family feuds, wolves, blood) and turns them on their side with a bit of bondge and a dash of domination ni a F/F pairing that's emorable. (There's also a set up for more books in the series.)

There's plenty of action too, including a climactic fight in a forest awash in cold blue flame, (The outcome of this episode is later recounted by Bec--the book's narrator--with sardonic wit, a lightness that is a plus for the story.) Calcott has built upon Stoker's story and introduced refinements of her own that move the story beyond a clever bit of "fan fic." The women here are strong, modern protagonists who know their way around a sword. 

"You act with passion," Quincey says to Victoria in their ultimate confrontation and she does not see that as a flaw. Neither will the readers/ Calcott will not disappoint fans of erotic paranormal fiction.


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