Blood Divine has a lot going for it in my eyes. Let's start there.
First, the pages of this book are filled with a diverse and interesting set of characters. They were, for the most part, realistically written despite the fantastical setting. It was a bit like reading a movie-length episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for me - an opinion I hold irrespective of the explicit call outs to the series in the text. Because of this factor, nostalgia likely played at least a slight part in my enjoyment of the cast, even when some of them were a bit cookie-cutter.
Speaking of characters, Cooper, the main character, simultaneously managed to annoy the shit out of me and to endear himself to me. I also fell pretty hard for Cooper's love interest, Randy. Needless to say, I was rooting for this romance to blossom throughout the story and had a few heartbreaking moments while reading where it looked like things might fall through. Howard handled the play of a shared history between Cooper and Randy really well. The relationship managed to feel both tender and strained, creating a good level of tension that kept me on my toes.
As you already know if you read my reviews often, I'm a sucker for world building. Blood Divine has world building in spades, which is surprising given the sort of break-neck horror-esque pacing of the story. I enjoyed the unfurling of Cooper's family tree as he discovered his place in the unfamiliar supernatural world in which he found himself. I am also endlessly fascinated by attempts to arrive at a supernatural/paranormal/fantasy world in the present from the contents of the Bible. Biblical vampires are also particularly appealing; so, this book ended up hitting that sweet spot.
Overall, Blood Divine is brimming with potential. Unfortunately it has some issues that kept me from enjoying it as much as I wanted to. Foremost among the detractors were some frustrating plot holes. The most frustrating one for me was around Cooper's learning to use his power. Eunice and Eudora (awesome characters by the way) were called in to assist and, as far as I can tell, did nothing except talk about having to confront a past situation that was preventing Cooper from fully accessing his power. Perhaps I'm overreacting on this one, but it really irked me...
It felt like there was a solid plot outline, but Howard missed a few steps along the way and/or didn't completely write out all the parts that were in the original outline.
I know that there wasn't much room to work with in this slim volume and that, unfortunately, is probably what is holding it back. I wanted more. More world building. More character development. More exposition. More insight into the how of the things that were happening. And the why.
Despite these drawbacks, I still enjoyed my time with Blood Divine. The romance was sweet. (Be forewarned that the whole thing is one big tease. The novel is bookended by bed scenes sans sex, but with lots of charm.) I would still recommend that fans of paranormal or fantasy romance pick it up and give it a try.
The ending leaves the story poised for a sequel without too much of a cliffhanger. I would give a sequel a fair chance to get me hooked on Howard.
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