[To be perfectly honest: I got a copy of this book in an Early Reviewer give-away at librarything, via netgalley. I don’t think it’s tainted my judgment, though.]
Blu is the princess of the local werewolf clan, Creed one of the Elders of the local vampires. Since werewolves and vampires have been fighting for about forever, a new attempt to ensure the peace between the two sees an arranged marriage between Blu and Creed. Unfortunately, they really are not suited for each other. Or are they?
Her Vampire Husband starts out as a rather average but nevertheless enjoyable paranormal romance, but somewhere around page 70, things really get off track. The beginning of the end is the author’s (and editor’s) ignorance that there’s an actual difference between Chile and chili and ends with the plot unraveling completely, saviour issues, racism, sexism and some ableism, just to top things off.
[In case that sounds familiar, I have been tweeting rather excessively about this book. In case you missed it or want to revisit, I’ve included my tweets below.]
When I started reading, I thought, “oh well, forced marriages not so much my thing, but at least it’s explained and this is supposed to be a mindless entertainment read anyway.” I never would have thought that the forced marriage thing is probably the best thing about this book.
[SPOILERS and slight Trigger Warning for Rape]
Here are the problems I had with how the plot went down:
- Blu and Creed get married to appease their warring nations. While it’s Creed’s own choice, Blu gets sold by her father and nobody thinks much about it because werewolf females are so rare there’s not really much choice.
- For about 70 pages it’s the usual “I won’t be falling in love. But zie’s so sexy. I don’t wanna fall in love but my pants demand THE SEX. Of fuck it all, I’m in love”-shtick. Not too exciting, but well. And then suddenly the author realises: “BLOODY HELL, this is only 70 pages long, I better get some more plot and fast!”
- So, it turns out that the vampires want to ambush the werewolves and the werewolves want to ambush the vampires.
- We discover that Blu always wears wigs and sexy, colourful clothes because she was continuously raped by her packmates (and given out as a reward by her father). While this is actually done with psychological sensitivity, it personally pissed me off since it seems that wearing clothes that are out of the ordinary is always a sign of psychological trauma in fiction. As a person who loves to wear colourful clothes and has coloured her hair more shades than most people have in their wardrobe, but escaped life mostly without any traumas, this is especially unnerving.
- Oh yeah, since we’re dealing with a conflict between two races, it only can be resolved with one race being completely evil. Enter the werewolves: All of them rapists (save one guy, who therefore is the great big hope), abusive traitors that are not to be trusted. Except the female werewolves who are so different from the males that they’re basically their own species.
And I don’t care whether the question is blacks or whites or vampires or werewolves: Painting one party as the absolute evil because they belong to that party: dammit, that’s the very definition of racism and I seriously don’t want to read it.
- Anyway, the plot gets kind of confused, with some magic added (I seriously prefer my paranormal stuff to be more on the SciFi side of things, btw) and then the devil turns up and it’s all a little “huh?” until there’s a battle and Creed is wounded badly, the werewolves lose and a new pack leader (the hope-because-at-least-he’s-not-a-rapist guy) gets rid of the old pack leader.
- Vampires heal well, but Creed’s wounds are that bad that he might not heal completely. So Blu decides that she will give him a magic cure, which will either help with healing and restore him to all his magnificence – or kill him. Because, you know, even death is preferable to being disabled. Which, btw., is practically the definition of ableism.
- Of course, all’s well that ends well. Creed survives and is still strong and a whole man (which would have been impossible if he had to use, I don’t know, a crutch or something). Blu doesn’t suffer from her rape trauma anymore, because there is a guy who loves her! And even though the first kiss they ever exchanged was him forcing her, he would never force himself upon her. Again. So, now she doesn’t have to wear the wigs anymore! Except that she still likes to sometimes, in bed, you know. *winkwinknudgenudge*
It seems especially unfortunate that the plot worked out that way since I think both Blu and Creed have actual potential to be a very likable hero/heroine. Blu is rather charming in her heart-felt sincerity and out-going openness and Creed (except for that first “stolen” kiss) is on the good side of the alpha male/asshole divide, even though Hauf tries to show that he’s really old by having him say some rather misogynistic stuff, she quickly stops doing that and then it’s fine. That he has a rather problematic past (to say the least) gets points for historical accuracy, even if they’re again taken away as it seems sometimes that he only wants to atone for them because he’s being forced.
Okay, since I’ve now written almost a thousand words about an ultimately crappy book, I’ll stop now. Summarising: Michele Hauf would be a very passable writer with a strong editor. Unfortunately, there was no good editor anywhere near this book and left to her own devices, Hauf’s book is problematic at best. Not recommended.
For your enjoyment, I have captured my twittering about this book here. To get the chronological order, read within every picture from bottom to top, the pictures themselves from top to bottom. [Did I confuse everybody now? Good, good.] But, it’s not really necessary to read it that way.