The Moody Nipple

Turned - Virna DePaul
With great sex comes great responsibility.

Whoa there, let’s not be too presumptuous. It wasn’t THAT great.

With a bit of effort. I can almost imagine this as the urban-fantacheese erotica book that took me by surprise and make me finally take vampire stories with more seriousness less derisive snorting.


Because this did have a couple of good things going for it plot-wise. I mean, you’re bound to get something right if you throw everything and the sink in the storyline, I suppose. And if you take away the draggy narrative, the Groundhog Day world and character building, the habitual telling without showing, maybe add a half-teaspoon full of chemistry between characters outside the ridiculously lengthy sex scenes and just pare down the overall length of this book to half… we might have something here.

Okay make that a bit of effort, imagination and mate some herbal support.

Vampires feeding on humans for blood is expressly forbidden by vampire law, but under the FBI’s classified Turning Program, a group of vampires are employed by the government to turn, and thus weaponize, human volunteers into their kind. This brilliantly stupid plan starts to unravel when the vampire group turns rogue and starts to feed on and turn people on their own random discretion, including some of the bureau’s own agents. 

The Belladonna Agency is an off-the-books team tasked by the FBI to hunt down these Rogues by infiltrating the organisations tied to their operations.

Okay first problem, that bit of information was repeated every time a new character needs to be keep apace of the story thus far is introduced.The narrative as it is has no hook in terms of humour, dialogue or empathic depth in any characters but this SERIOUSLY made everything TEN TIMES WORSE. Every time the plot mercifully advances, we have to revisit this piecemeal form of world building all over again. The repetitive horny manifestations of “cock twitching”, “nipples perking” and “gushing moistness” is par for the course in an UF book with a half-naked man in its cover so that was fine and expected. But imagine being hammered with that in your head while The Rogue issue was on constant loop all throughout.

Moving on…

Ty Duncan is an FBI agent turned vampire turned operative of Belladonna. At the beginning of the book he is stalking stalking ex-convict, ex-gangster and current barista Eliana Garcia with the intent to recuit her into the agency. They’ve recently found evidence that her former gang is now in bed with the rogue vampires as Salvation’s Crossing - a Hispanic Rights organisation that actually supplies migrant workers for the vampires to feed on. Belladonna wants to use her old ties with her former gang and train three other attractive ladies with kickass backgrounds: an ex-cop, an ex-dancer and a West Point graduate to form a ragtag team of sexy agents.

”So what is this? Your take on some cheesy seventies drama about three women and a guy named Charlie that they never get to meet?”
“Three hot women,” Ty said mildly. “Don’t forget that part about it.”

Well they do answer to a woman named Carly who communicates through an intercom.

And as if the plot wasn’t busy enough as it is, there’s also this important subplot of Ana’s missing sister, Gloria, whose whereabouts serve as the Agency’s leverage to force Ana to join them. This and her shady past eventually forces our heroine to choose between the hold of her old life and the promise of her new.

I quite liked that there’s a rhyme and reason as to why the Belladonna ladies are chosen specifically to join the agency and would’ve been enough of a push for me to tune in for the next installment of this series. The sexy tension between the Belladonna director and the Vampire Queen is also worth some recognition. I honestly feel that this could’ve worked better if the UF aspect was made a part of the mystery instead of leading off with it. This would’ve been an excellent rom-suspense story had the rom part been convincingly pulled off.

He found his favourite photograph of her, the one in which she was almost smiling. The promise of that smile was as intoxicating as it was frustrating. Next to seeing her smile outright, there was only two things he wanted more.
To fuck her. Hard.

That was 2% in.

Complaining about insta-love in urban-fantacheese is like complaining about the cholesterol in your Big Mac. It comes with the contract you signed yourself into. And it really isn’t something that would be detrimental to my enjoyment of these kinds of stories. I finished the first 10 BDB books in 11 days. Straight, bitchez. 

But as the story moves along, I expect to understand why Ana’s nipples (which shifts from copper to berry-red here, much like a mood ring I guess) and Ty’s cock is getting so hyperactive around each other. Which this book never really bothered to rationalise, not even exerting some effort to build any chemistry between the leads. You don’t build chemistry thru a four chapter sex scene. 

I don’t think there was even any attempt to make me swoon over Ty. He came across a sulky, whining, emo hero complaining about being turned into a vampire - the moral baggage and dietary restriction than comes along with it.

I mean, between Angel and Spike? Bleach blonde bad boy all the way, baby! He may have his accent but Ty had none of Spike’s swagger. And no, Ana had none of Buffy’s either.

The dialogue was saccharine, the plot twists Mexican soapy. Which keeps in theme with Ana’s heritage, I suppose.

This is one of the most self-aware slash patronising books I’ve read in a while. It is quite conscious how complex the story it’s trying to sell, and wants to ensure the reader is keeping track that Ana is Hispanic, she and Ty are in lust-love with each other and The Rogues are vampires who turned against the FBI.

Right to its very mediocre end.

ARC provided by the publishers thru Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.