Love Bites, a novel by Ry Herman
Book details

The best thing about genre fiction is that it provides such a wide array of ideas. Take the concept of a vampire novel. You may immediately think of gothic buildings and lace, but you could easily read a modern vampire novel that is violent and full of action. Love Bites by Ry Herman goes in another direction again. It is a romantic comedy in which some of the characters happen to be vampires. Not flesh rendering blood suckers, but people like you and me who happen to need human blood to survive (hopefully that last bit is unlike you and me). Can you have a sweet romance that also has bloodletting? 

Chloe and Angela have both come out of long-term relationships worse than they entered. Chloe has become a recluse, her mental health suffering after being undermined and belittled for so long. Angela’s story is similar in many ways, but her escape was death and then rebirth as a vampire. Its 1999 and Chloe rarely leaves the house. Angela only ventures out to drug and feed on victims in nightclubs. On a rare outing for Chloe the two meet and sparks ignite. Can they be truthful with one another to allow love to win out?   

I do enjoy urban fantasy novels that take the real world and give it a tiny twist to see what happens. Love Bites must have one of the subtlest yet. This is principally a romantic book that happens to have supernatural beings spotted throughout. The book alternates between the two main characters and as such gives as much importance to mental health issues as it does to being a vampire. Herman treats them both intelligently by explaining how they fit everyday life. 

I have read about the daily trials of how mental health effects a character before, less so that of being a vampire. Angela is a scientist and she is determined to finish her doctorate. In her spare time, she also experiments on herself and what a vampire can do. She is not a bad person and goes out of her way to feed by causing as little harm to others as possible.  

As well as being about individual internal struggles, Love Bites is also about relationships, both old and new. We follow the duo as they meet, but also reflect on their past relationships to inform where they are now. The use of subtle gaslighting and bullying techniques to trap someone in a relationship, be it human or vampiric, feels very relevant to today. You really get the sense that these are two damaged people that you want to find one another. 

This being a romantic story, the course of true love never runs smoothly. The reason for any friction is common – lies. What is different is that the lies are about being a vampire. Herman does not turn the book into pulp but treats the subject matter sensibly. These are just normal issues that happen to be paranormal in nature. The way that Chloe and Angela feel about each other is very human, no matter is one of them happens to be undead. 

As a reader, I am normally drawn towards the violent vampire books full of action and horror. Love Bites is the antithesis of this. It is a gentle book about love and new relationships. There are some small moments of action, but these are more thrilling and suspenseful, than horrific. I enjoyed reading about two people finding one another and trying to overcome obstacles. The book may be about vampires, but it all felt very human to me.  

Written on 9th July 2020 by .

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