Reviewed by Sarina
TITLE: Blood Relations
AUTHOR: Zev De Valera
PUBLISHER: MLR Press
LENGTH: 243 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2017
Six years into a ‘together but separate’ relationship, Simon Melville is engaged to be married. Almost. While Simon’s lover is making wedding plans, Simon has yet to say ‘yes’.
Following the death of his father — a man who cut himself off from his family at the age of seventeen — Simon is stunned when he receives a letter informing him that he is now heir to the Melville fortune and the historic southern estate known as Melville Hall.
Intent on liquidating his assets and returning to civilization as soon as the ink is dry on the paper; Simon finds his plans altered when he discovers clues to his family’s past and his own secrets — long buried — begin to haunt him.
Can Simon resign himself to marriage? Or will he rise to the challenge of a new relationship with his handsome cousin and risk the consequences of the Melville family curse?
When I first read the blurb for this story, I was intrigued enough to give it a try; I honestly had no idea what to expect from the book but was looking forward to diving in. After finishing it, all I can say is this: This book was So Good! Seriously, I just loved it! While at first the story seemed fairly straight forward, the more you got into it, the more it became apparent that that wasn’t the case.
I’m reminded of a quote from Shrek about Ogres and onions; both have layers, to paraphrase, and the very same could be said about this book. While Simon is busy dealing with his new inheritance and learning about the family he never had a chance to claim as his own, a lot more is coming to light than expected. There was much more going on with the Melville family than expected; as the book progressed there were a ton of secrets and lies exposed, all wrapped up with family pride and some bad decisions that have left a serious mess in need of sorting. I found the entire thing to be fascinating and I just loved how I never knew what I was going to read next. I also really enjoyed the fact that I was learning about Simon’s family right along side him as this is all new to him as well; the journal entries of one of his relatives from around 1920 featured predominantly throughout the story and I enjoyed the heck out of them. Besides exposing more of his family’s somewhat sordid past, the journals gave the story a nice historic feel that went well with the setting and I liked that quite a bit.
The story was just…it was GREAT and I simultaneously want to keep talking about it and not talk about it at all because there’s no real way to truly encompass all the interconnected bits in a way that doesn’t spoil the story. One word of warning, however; Simon is in a relationship when he meets Dana and takes up with him but it is also understood that he and Izzy are in an Open relationship. Things do progress from just a casual fling and some can look upon that as cheating at that point and if that bothers you, be aware that this is a part of the book. While I abhor cheating in books, with the state of Simon and Izzy’s relationship at the beginning I found this didn’t bother me at all. If that doesn’t bother you though, I would highly recommend giving this one a try; I was in love with the book by the end of it and sad to see it end. This was also my first book by this author but I plan on making sure it isn’t my last!