Summary Review: A lovely romance between two physically damaged men, but Angelica the Hell hound almost steals the book.
Living in Strange Hollow, a blind vampire like Barry can have a normal life … or as normal as a blind vampire can have. He has friends and his Seeing Eye dog, Angelica. But when he accepts a date with Anthony, his mysterious next-door neighbor, he realizes just what he’s been missing. Love.
Yet when Anthony reveals the reason he’s made Strange Hollow his home, Barry has to question whether Anthony’s interested in him because of his personality, or because of his blindness.
Sometimes the statement “love is blind” can be the most freeing words of all.
Barry is a 400 year old vampire who has lived most of his very long life with his Seeing Eye dog Angelica, a Hell hound. What’s a Hell hound you ask? It’s a dog from Hell, literally, who was released from Below to help Barry make the transition from sighted to blind. She liked him enough to stay on as his companion, but she has a very sick sense of humour. She communicates telepathically with Barry so the reader has a chance to experience Angelica in all her glory. 🙂
When the book opens Barry is going out on a date and he wants to look his best so he asks Angelica for her opinion, even though she has been known to lie on occasion and let him leave the house looking like a slob because that’s the kind of dog she is. However on this night he has to trust her because the date is very important to Barry — his next door neighbour Anthony is taking him out to dinner. Barry and Anthony live in Strange Hollow, so named because almost everyone living there has some kind of physical affliction. There’s Herbert, a ginormous hamster shifter nicknamed Squeaky because his wheel squeaks loudly when he runs on it; and Rufus, Barry’s protective best friend, a werewolf who only shifted once because the first time he did his wolf ears never transformed back to human ears and he’s scared to shift again. These are just a couple of the residents who make up the population of the small town of Strange Hollow which welcomes those who cannot fit into normal society.
Barry had been blinded soon after he was turned at 29. The villagers were afraid of vamps and tried to kill him by gouging out his eyes with a silver spoon dipped in nightshade. He survived, but now he sports sockets where his eyeballs used to be and the phosphorous left behind from the silver coating on the spoon give him glow in the dark scars. He wears dark glasses whenever he’s outdoors in order not to scare the residents. Anthony had his own physical deformity. He was a very beautiful magician who had no magic. His parents loved him, but only because of his beauty, and they were shopping him around on the marriage market when an ex boyfriend threw acid on his face in a bid to kill him, because he had been dumped. His face was destroyed and his scars were so scary that his parents shoved him out the door after settling a lot of ‘guilt money’ on him. Now he’s living out his life in Strange Hollow where a lot of the residents regard him as a monster because of his ruined face. Even Rufus, normally very tolerant because he had his own deformity, tried to warn Barry about Anthony’s disfigurement.
The first date ended up in a park literally, because they were getting on so well, kissing and rubbing off on each other. They decided to go back to Barry’s home to further explore each other’s bodies so that they would not be charged with public indecency. 🙂 Barry had a bit of difficulty having sex with Anthony since he couldn’t open his mouth fully due to the scarring on one side of his face, but they managed very well. For a couple who had so many physical problems they didn’t seem to have any trouble making love to each other and there was a lot of sex in the book as both Barry and Anthony made up for lost time when there was no one else in their lives. The last time Anthony had sex he wore a mask, so it was freeing for him not to have to hide his face. As for Barry he could feel the scars but he didn’t care since what was underneath was more important.
When I read the blurb for this book I wasn’t sure how I would relate to the characters and the story. I thought there might be more angst than I could deal with, but it was actually a lot of fun with all the different characters and their problems. The prose was hilarious at times and Angelica was the funniest dog I have encountered in a while, but she’s also vain. For example she didn’t like to wear her harness because she thought it made her look fat. 🙂
This book is told in Barry’s first person POV and his thoughts are also amusing:
I’m good at sucking. I mean, heck, I’m a vampire. I have to be good at that one thing. But more than sucking blood I love to suck cock and Anthony has a nice fat one.”
One of the best things about the book was the relationship between Barry and Angelica as they fight in his head. At one point while Anthony is asleep after they had oral sex, Angelica demands to be let into the house. She sniffs as she enters. Barry feels obliged to say “Yes, he’s in my bed and we had sex.” She snorts “I don’t think that counts as real sex”
T.A. Chase did a great job on Anthony’s physical desription as seen through Barry’s sightless eyes when he touches Anthony’s face:
…a mass of scars, like snakes, curled one upon another into a ball, crawled from his hairline to below his chin where his shirt covers his neck. With butterfly caresses I map the carnage that is his face. …”Oh my” I whisper, tears filling my voice. Such dichotomy. Beauty and ugliness. Smooth and rough. Gorgeous creation and ravaged destruction……
If you like paranormal books I think you will be emotionally invested in two such unusual and damaged characters, both of whom were three dimensional, but you will fall for Angelica, the hound from Hell. 🙂