Alex Owens' Kill Me is the first volume of the Blood Chord sequence, an interesting mix of motherhood, music, vampires, and erotic desires.
It all starts out as a straight-forward piece of chick-lit fiction, with a harried working mother struggling to juggle the demands of a career with those of a resentful husband and a lonely daughter. Claire is a bit awkward, adding a lightly comic tone to the story, and her strained relationship serves to ground the overall story. You can't help but immediately like her. Alex does a wonderful job of establishing her as a strong and admirable woman, more than worthy of our respect, while also developing her as a sympathetic character.
By contrast, Bette is a suave, sophisticated woman with genuine old-word class - a naturally powerful seductress who immediately insinuates herself into Claire's thoughts. I loved the interaction between these two characters, especially the prolonged homoerotic tease. It's a fine line to walk, keeping the sexual tension fresh and exciting, without exhausting the reader's patience for some kind of consummation, but Alex clearly understands the sensuality of the 'classic' vampire archetype.
The introduction of Gregor, another vampire into the mix, was definitely not something I expected, but Alex plays out the love/lust triangle very well. Claire spends so much of the book completely out of her depth, strung along, and forced to react to these two supernaturally powerful individuals, that it's exhilarating to see her discovering her own hidden strengths, ultimately wresting control of the unbreakable bond between vampires . . . and bending it to her own needs.
Almost primarily sensual and romantic, there are some very explicitly erotic scenes that are developed and introduced in such a way that they seem a natural progression of the storyline. They're definitely steamy, and a little dreamy, but they work very well within the context of the story, the path that's Clarie's life has taken, the way her relationships have developed, and the overall vampire mythology.
It's not your traditional, action-packed vampire tale, but it is one that's full of conflict - emotional, psychological, and (at times) extremely physical. Fast, fun, and . . . dare I say it, empowering . . . this is a wonderful story and one that will leave you anxious for more.
[Reviewed by Sally]