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Title – Soulless
Author – T. Baggins
Genre – M/M Romance, Historical, Paranormal
Publication Date – 28th July 2013
A Man of Science
Nicholas Robinson is a chemist decades ahead of his time. Crippled by a riding accident and embittered by his injuries, he shuns the world, focusing on his laboratory and experiments. But when the sale of his country estate, Grantley, leads to an encounter with a vampire, Nicholas realizes there is more in heaven and earth than he ever dreamed possible.
A Creature of Darkness
Although three hundred years old, Bancroft Ulwin is young by supernatural standards. Enslaved by his cruel, deformed maker, Ban is forbidden from relations with mortal men unless it ends in death. But his liaison with Nicholas, expressly against his master’s wishes, soon expands beyond mere lust to something more.
A Love Predestined
Long ago while still mortal, Ban met Serafino, the only true love of his life. When death separated them, Ban accepted his role as an enemy of human kind. But as he comes to suspect Nicholas is Serafino reincarnated, Ban begins to question everything he once believed. Including his own damnation.
Ban withdrew Nicholas’s straight razor from its tattered silk case. Taking the strop from its wall-peg, he worked the razor up and down the leather, twice testing the blade against the tip of his tongue.
“Perfect,” he said at last. Lifting the ewer, he filled Nicholas’s shaving cup with water. It didn’t take much effort with a boar-bristle brush to coax the dried soap into thick white lather. Tossing a towel around Nicholas’s shoulders, Ban bent over him, humming.
“Your heart is hammering again. Will you miss the beard so much?” he asked, painting it with gobs of foam.
“Sometimes it’s easier to face the world with your own face concealed.”
“That’s naught but rank cowardice.” Catching Nicholas by the throat, Ban forced his neck flush with the chair back, placing the razor’s flat edge against his cheek. “Believe me in this, if you believe nothing else—cowardice is not your natural state. Now. Try and hold still.”
Ban kept on humming as he scraped away Nicholas’s beard, working slowly and methodically. Only once did Ban nick him, and that was when he leaned closer to attend the area between Nicholas’s nose and mouth. The shift in pressure jarred Nicholas’s lower half. As he flinched, the blade jerked, and a droplet of salty red oozed onto his upper lip.
“Oh. My.” Ban set the razor aside. Removing the towel and shaking bits of beard onto the floor, he used a clean corner to wipe around Nicholas’s mouth, carefully avoiding the blood. Then kneeling before Nicholas, Ban brought their mouths together, cleaning away the blood with wet, luxuriant strokes. Transfixed, Nicholas had a sudden vision of himself: stripped to the waist, flesh cut in dozens of places, rivulets of blood decorating his cheeks, biceps, nipples. Offering himself as a feast, an unfolding banquet for all Ban’s senses….
The vampire pulled away. Nicholas made a little noise of frustration.
“Ah, but your shave is not yet complete.” Ban’s upper lip bore a trace of white lather that he wiped away, smiling. “Despite all sweet distractions, I must finish shaping your side-whiskers. Sharp points, I think, drawing the eye to your perfectly formed lips.”
Soon it was done. Wringing out a freshly-soaked towel, Ban wiped Nicholas’s face again, tousling his hair for good measure. Then he shifted Nicholas in his chair, tilting the washstand’s looking glass until Nicholas saw himself beardless for the first time in four years. To his surprise, he was still handsome, hardly aged by his orgy of pain, hard drinking, and self-pity. The wild, unkempt beard seemed like part of a nightmare; it was as if the real Nicholas Robinson had risen from the grave.
“Yes, you are a beauty,” Ban said. “Now. Can you undress for bed, or must I assist you?”
“I….” Nicholas forced himself to swallow the protest. “Help me to rise, and I’ll do the rest myself.”
It wasn’t easy, removing his clothes while Ban, still fully dressed, stood and watched. Hanging his coat on the chair, Nicholas unbuttoned his waistcoat slowly. After the waistcoat, he pulled his shirt free, letting the white muslin fall almost to his knees. Next he unwound his cravat, dropping it on the floor. His hands shook…
SO WHAT DID I THINK? My review
Firstly, this book deserves multiple stars for the cover alone! It’s covers like this that make me really sorry that I read from a Kindle and don’t have the opportunity to admire hard copy! It may not necessarily evoke the darkness of the story but it sure is drool-worthy!
This is not your usual run of the mill paranormal romance. This is intriguing and captivating. The characters are fascinating and the plot unusual.
From the early chapters, the characters of Nicholas and Bancroft were totally engaging and their situation definitely interesting. The story also includes wonderful secondary characters, particularly Martha and Nicholas’ grandmother.
Nicholas may have a position of status but a dreadful accident has left him physically incapacitated and living the sad life of someone believing they are destined to be alone and not enjoy the love of another and joy of physical intimacy. But for all his position and reclusiveness, Nicholas is a caring man, taking the servant girl Martha under his wing. He tutors her and more importantly protects her, putting her life before everything he owns and everything he is.
Bancroft is a murdering Vampire under the control of Sebastian who tortures him. Through flashbacks we learn of his human life, his loves and losses and the events that lead to his life with Sebastian. Ban is definitely a character who develops over the duration of the story, or at least my perception of him changed as I learnt more.
This is a historical tale with a real sense of the time and place, the formality of the language well in tune with the period. But it’s essence is a horror story. There are evil characters (Sebastian is totally cringe worthy) with violence and torture and rape. Some of these aspects aren’t for the faint-hearted. But there is also love – love that transcends time.
The story is a complex one with surprises and revelations with twists and the unexpected. Very unique!
Find out more about T. Baggins
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Orphaned at birth, T. Baggins was raised by wolves until age fourteen, when the pack moved on one night without a forwarding address. Returning to human society, Ms. Baggins taught herself to read and write by studying fan fiction. Cutting her teeth on Kirk/Spock (Star Trek: The Original Series, baby!) she soon began slashing rock stars and X-Men. Despite a lifetime spent in the southern U.S., T. Baggins considers herself a citizen of the cosmos and a freethinker, which is good, because no one has offered so much as a penny for her thoughts. In her spare time she enjoys blogging at Shades of Gay, emptying gin bottles and tweeting into the void as @therealtbaggins.
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