You know those books that everyone told you to read, but you put them off. And then when you finally read the book, you couldn’t believe you had put it off for so long? That is Blood Slave by Travis Luedke.
Inner Goddess Kayla had told me about the Nightlife series, a new vampire series. I even downloaded the first book, The Nightlife: New York. But it wasn’t until I saw the cover for Blood Slave that my true interest was tweaked. The story is told from the point of view of a kept woman, kept for her blood by the vampires. Hope is beautiful, every man’s wet dream. Her life has been lived in one cage after another, with men owning her body and taking or selling the pleasures her body offered as they wished since she was fourteen. But one “date” with a psycho woman turns Hope’s existence upside down as she is thrown into the world of vampires. Unable to risk revealing their existence, the vampires move Hope into a new cage to be both food and sex toy to the powerful Enrique. And as a relationship begins between the two, the jealousy of his underling cuts their happiness short. The side stories of drugs, prostitution, and violence take the reader into the belly of New York City’s underground, while showing the dangerous power wielded by both men and beasts.
Even though it is the third novel in the series, I read it first—and that was fine. Luedke created a story that stands by itself. The pacing of the story is swift, moved along by the narrator Hope’s quirky sense of humor. Luedke’s brand of vampires are beautiful, seductive, and deadly strong. Their venom creates orgasmic states in the humans while feeding, and Anna becomes addicted to the venom, needing constant bites. She is confused if her feelings for Enrique are real or a result of this addiction, a constant source of frustration for her. But he gives her what no other man has: a place and purpose in the world outside of the bedroom. The happily ever after is still a gilded cage she reminds herself, and when Enrique leaves for a trip, his underling proves how precarious Hope’s position is.
Enrique and Hope are part of a world that includes prostitution and drug cartels. Brutal violence and rape are part of the business day. To survive, both must be willing to fight to the death for what they want. This is a gritty, realistic urban book which pulls no punches. And yet it provides hope where there should be none. It is a balancing act of storytelling between life, lust, blood, greed, and love which Luedke manages quite adeptly. My heart still races along with Hope’s from her race into the City to find Enrique. And my body still rejoices with hers at his revelations.
Luedke explores many themes in Blood Slave. What does it mean to be betrayed by those you trusted to keep you safe? How do you rebuild yourself and learn to live and love again after experiencing the worst life has to offer? Where is the line between physically needing someone and emotionally needing them? Is self-worth something that comes from within or from others? He shows us the plight of immigrants in a strange country, of women in a patriarchal society, of ethics in business practices. And he does all this while we fall in love with Enrique and Hope, with her Cinderella story. 4 Stars out of 5.
You can find out more about The Nightlife series by visiting Travis Luedke's website and by following his book tour this week. See all the stops here on the blog hop tab.
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Check out Travis Luedke’s Nightlife series, available at Amazon, Smashwords, and iTunes. Enter the contest to win all three books.