Lord of the Vampires is the first book in Harlequin's Royal House of Shadows series, a set of four paranormal romances, each based based on a fairy tale. Lord of the Vampires is inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Jill Monroe’s Lord of Rage by "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," while Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen is based on "Little Red Riding Hood" and Nalini Singh's Lord of the Abyss on "Beauty and the Beast."
I haven't read any of the other books in the Royal House of Shadows series and based on my experience with Lord of the Vampires, I'm not sure that I'd want to. I like the premise of the series, which is why I requested a review copy of the first installment, but I'm baffled by the execution. I really did not enjoy Lord of the Vampires at all. The only reason that I didn't give up on the novel entirely is that I'd been promised a retelling of a fairytale (at the time that I was reading the novel I didn't know which tale Showalter had taken as her inspiration) and I was determined to find that story. I didn't, though. Alice in Wonderland didn't cross my mind as a possible inspiration because it is not a fairy tale. And while looking back now I can see how Showalter used Alice in Wonderland as a jumping-off point, I'm not sure that I'd have seen Alice in Wonderland in Lord of the Vampires without having been told to.
While the lack of an obvious fairy tale inspiration was a disappointment to me, it was by no means the only one. I couldn't connect to either the hero or the heroine and, more important given the fact that Lord of the Vampires is a romance novel, their relationship lacked any semblance of romance. Yes, there was sexual chemistry, but lust and ownership completely overwhelmed any bit of connection I saw between the two. Jane was not a sympathetic character and her willingness to go along with Nicolai made little sense in the face of his treatment of her. The only thing Nicolai had going for him was magnetic sexuality. He was domineering and manipulative and he lacked much in the way of redeeming characteristics.
The story was over complex difficult to follow with its multiple flashbacks and magic-induced memory loss (maybe this confusion is an intentional nod to Alice in Wonderland) and it succeeds in feeling both slowly paced and rushed. Suffice it to say that I couldn't wait for this one to end. I haven't read much of Showalter's work (just one of her young adult novels), but I suspect that Lord of the Vampires not typical given how strong her following is.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Lord of the Vampires from Harlequin Nocturne via NetGalley.