Reviewed by Sarina
TITLE: Dark Passions
AUTHOR: Laura Baumbach
PUBLISHER: MLR Books
LENGTH: 224 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 1, 2016
Dark Passions is a single author collection of some of my short stories pulled together from other out-of-print anthologies. There are no new stories in this collection, just time-worn, in some cases award-winning, shorts.
They feature one of my favorite characters to write about vampires. I love their power and allure. I like them dark and dangerous. I insist they are passionate and protective. I find it interesting to write powerful, immortal creatures who can be tempered by the strength of love. Love is totally unpredictable and amazingly powerful. It should never be underestimated.
Sin & Salvation – A selfish act of greed or a self-less act of love eternal?
Enthralled – A suicidal young man, Colin Dobson, seeks death, but finds an unconventional reason to live in the arms of a seductive, dark stranger. Rowland Campbell is an ancient and powerful vampire on the brink of death after a surprise attack by vampire hunters. Dark desires are awakened, as one strives to survive and the other begs for deliverance from the burden of life.
Breathing – Colin Dobson has everything he ever imagined – excitement, travel, and night after night of possessive passion with his new lover, Rowland Campbell. Safe in the arms of his vampire lover, for the first time in his life the sheltered young hemophiliac has nothing to fear. There’s only one thing marring their perfect relationship. Colin is finding it increasingly difficult to sleep with a corpse – until an unexpected trip to a mystical tattoo parlor and a run-in with an old nemesis puts things into perspective.
Walk Through Fire – Caleb’s vampire lover has been cursed by none other than the Duke of Hell. For over one hundred years he’s tried to free Drew, and has failed to defeat the demon champions. With Drew starving and going insane, Caleb doesn’t have much time left. What would you do for love? Sacrifice yourself, your immortal future, even your lover’s life?
Winner Takes All – Two vampires face off in a deadly bet that has the winner claiming everything the loser owns–including the loser’s innocent, unaware human offspring.
While I’ve read this author before, I was unfamiliar with all the stories in this collection which made for a nice change. The stories themselves were nicely varied and I really liked how each vampire had a distinct background and personality. I enjoyed this book overall but a couple of the stories didn’t grab my attention as much for one reason or another; there was quite a bit of what I considered to be blood play, as well, which isn’t bad sometimes but I was a little tired of it being in every story, vampire or not. :p
Sin & Salvation 3.5*
This was a pretty good start to the collection; I enjoyed how it started in present day but then backtracked to show how the main characters met and, subsequently, what has led to Trevor’s current behaviors. This is also the only story that features someone being made into a vampire rather than either being one already or becoming bonded to one. The ending was sweet and gave a nice nod to the season.
Rowland has the vampire attitude equivalent to not giving a f**k. A warrior before being turned, he fully embraced his new nature but lost whatever sense of humanity he might have originally had in the process. He’s pretty much a badass with no respect for human life. What I enjoyed most about this one was how Rowland’s priorities changed when he met Colin but they didn’t change so much as to make him into someone he isn’t. Both men found something they desperately needed when they met and really enjoyed reading about them.
Rowland and Colin were back in this story and I was really glad to see them! It was great getting to read about them after they’ve settled a bit more into their relationship. While no one would ever consider Rowland to be a nice man, I liked that you get to see him taking extra measures to protect Colin from those that would hurt him because of his lover. While this one was less on the action that the previous story had, it ended on a surprisingly sweet note that more than made up for it.
Walk Through Fire 4.5*
My favorite story of the book, I just loved the premise to bits! I adored Caleb; the utter devotion he showed in his determination to free Drew was heartwarming to see and I just couldn’t help but cheer him on. These two men were the only vampires in the book that I truly considered sweet and they were so totally deserving of a happy ending; I finished this one was a big old smile on my face.
Winner Takes All 3*
My least favorite story in the book, unfortunately. I didn’t care for the premise and never felt as though I connected with either main character. Malcolm was an utter bastard, as was the author’s intent I’m certain, and I didn’t care for the cat and mouse game he had going on with Hunter. What I disliked most, however, was how Hunter so easily gave in and then gave himself over to the vampire that had been stalking him. The writing was good, like the rest of the book, but I just wasn’t feeling this one.