Review: Regency Draculia series

It is Victorian England. Life is an endless parade of parties, lights, and gaiety for the lords and ladies of the haute ton. Blushing young debutantes forage for fortunes among the herd of potential husbands, oblivious to the monsters that lurk in the darkness. But immortal creatures of the night waltz amidst them and prey upon them, completely unrecognized. They are the Draculean race, and they have made a pact with Lucifer, some more willingly than others, for a life of eternal youth and hedonism.

And yet not all Draculia are content with their largess. Some reject the opulent lifestyle and seek a different path: a more noble purpose, something to fill the looming void, an escape from the trickery that entrapped them in a moment of weakness. They are rebels. But can they reclaim their lives as their own?

Colleen Gleason’s Regency Draculia trilogy centers around three powerful and provocative Dracule who seek redemption through love. Throw in a fearless vampire hunter, a couple of highly opinionated and resourceful debutantes, a wickedly lethal vampire warrioress, a mysterious guardian angel, and an immortal sociopath...and the result is a kickass risque Regency romance romp with vampires!

Join me after the jump, and I’ll tell you more about them, without spoiling anything important.

What are the Draculia?

The Draculean race was born in the 15th century, when Vlad Tepe made a deal with Lucifer. In exchange for ruling Romania, he promised his soul and the souls of random descendants. Thus providing Lucifer with an eternal army of mercenaries to do his bidding, presumably when he decides to take over the world. Through the years, Draculia migrated to the big cities throughout Europe, where they intermarried with the aristocracy and gained positions of respect and authority. They tended to disappear every other generation, then return when no one would recognize them to reclaim their lands and titles.

From among Tepe’s broad family tree, Lucifer still selects each new Dracule individually — for his or her insatiable appetites, grisly brutality, unquenchable thirst for power, and even occasionally and most despicably, for the sport of usurping noble integrity and purity of conviction. He usually appears in their dreams, when they are least aware and most vulnerable. Or in moments of deepest despair, as the love of their life lies dying in their arms, for example. So it’s only natural that some Dracule might regret their contract and dedicate their lives to resisting Lucifer’s directives and breaking their bonds.

Who are these Dracule?

This trilogy follows three Dracule who form a somewhat strained alliance to fight a common enemy, although they have quite different personalities.

Voss, Lord Dewhurst, the golden hedonist, recently returned from a few decades of living in America to claim his title, he dives with abandon back into London’s sensual smorgasbord. He is a rogue and a prankster who loves to create mischief, solve elaborate puzzles, and barter valuable information obtained in ways best left unknown. He has never been too concerned with who gets hurt along the way, and more than a few folks hold that against him, most notably the Earl of Corvindale.

Dimitri, Earl of Corvindale, reclusive and studious, hides away in his library trying to figure out how to nullify his contract with the devil. Raised in a Puritan household during the reign of Oliver Cromwell, Dimitri is accustomed to austerity and discipline. He has not drunk from a human for over 100 years, but that has not lessened Lucifer’s grip. He has also rescued a young orphan and “adopted” her as his younger “sister,” then found an “aunt” to care for her way off in the country while he lives in London. (In a fun crossover moment for Gleason fans, the “aunt” trains off page with Eustacia, a formidable vampire fighter from The Gardella Vampire Hunters series, which I reviewed here.) The “sister” has no idea because Dimitri used his burning red eyes to mesmerize her into forgetting her painful memories. Yes, Dracule can do this, which explains why Londoners remain unaware of their existence.

Giordan Cale, risen from the depths of poverty to the heights of fortune, has the looks of Michealangelo’s David, the Golden Touch of Midas, more money than he can spend in forever, and deeply painful psychic scars from years of abuse. He lived in Paris during the Reign of Terror, but has relocated to England and works closely with Dimitri at times. He once lost a battle of wits to a despicable thug named Cesar Moldavi. The price was too high, the loss weighs heavily upon him, and he still waits for the right moment to exact his revenge.

These three are united by disgust and circumstance against sinister Dracule Cesar Moldavi, a rapaciously greedy, ruthlessly unscrupulous control freak with aspirations of grandeur. Moldavi currently lives in Paris, sucking up big time to Napoleon, in hopes of riding into England on his coattails. Moldavi has spent his long life purging the humiliation he felt as a small, ugly, cowardly kid who got bullied, and he does this by subjugating and torturing everyone he can. To be blunt, he is a sick f*ck. My words can’t begin to do the cretin justice, so I’ll let Giordan and Dimitri do it for me:
Giordan came to the conclusion that his friend Dimitri...was being kind when he described Moldavi as being the lowest form of a bollocks-licking, bitch-in-heat, Lucifer’s-cock-biting bastard.
~ The Vampire Narcise

Not only is Moldavi intent on European, if not world, domination, but he likes to bleed children and use their pain to further his interests, which makes him reviled even among the Draculia.

Moldavi also keeps his legendarily beautiful sister Narcise Moldavi imprisoned. He tricked her into becoming Dracule, trained her as consummate warrior, and now pimps her out as a sex rape slave to his friends and enemies. Why does he do this? He hates that she has always been beautiful, brave, and beloved — plus the reasons quoted so eloquently above.
She was exquisite. Lively. A goddess of light and laughter and beauty. [snip] Narcise Moldavi was this millennium’s Helen of Troy: the face and figure that could launch a thousand ships.
~ The Vampire Narcise

Voss, Dimitri, and Giordan find themselves suddenly besieged by Moldavi’s army of “made” minions, the vampires made by a Dracule instead of Lucifer. All vampires have super strength and are impervious to most mortal dangers, like fire and bullets, but a recently made vampire isn’t nearly as powerful as a 100-plus-year-old, hand-picked Dracule. So you’d think this would be an easy matchup. But Moldavi cheats. Also, Lucifer threw in a couple of complications to ensure his control over his immortal mercenaries. (He offers them endless self-indulgence? There had to be a catch or two, right?)

First of all, each Dracule has a fatal weakness known as an Asthenia, the identity of which he guards closely because it renders him vulnerable. (Think of Superman and Kryptonite.) The Asthenia differs for each Dracule; it is usually the first thing he or she sees upon awakening as a vampire. For many short-lived Dracule, it’s something ubiquitous and unavoidable. For others, it’s something they can manage to avoid with careful forethought. For a few unlucky ones, it’s something their enemies discover.

Secondly, the Dracule have the Mark of Lucifer on the back of their shoulder. It starts off fairly small and faint, but it grows like deep and twisted roots over time, and it hurts unbearably whenever its owner shows any semblance of a conscience, for example, by not torturing and killing people.
And the ever-present pain from his Mark, radiating down and behind his left shoulder, was a constant reminder of Lucifer’s fury with him. The rootlike black marking extended from beneath the hair at the left side of his neck down over his shoulder and halfway down his back. It was a visible sign of his cracked and damaged soul, and the more annoyed Lucifer became, the more it throbbed and filled, rising up like twisting black veins.
~ The Vampire Dimitri

Though these Dracule have managed to keep a lid on their animosities and avoid a direct confrontation until now, their uneasy peace is shattered when a family of mortals gets involved.

What mortals dare jump in?

Everything blows up when Dimitri is called upon to guard the two oldest sisters of vampire hunter Chas Woodmore, who seems to have stolen Narcise right out from under Moldavi’s nose. Thanks to a little illicit gypsy blood in their family tree, each Woodmore sibling has some special paranormal survival skill that comes in quite handy in these books. Chas can sense the presence of a Dracule — not even another Dracule can do that — which makes him particularly adept at hunting them. Oldest sister Maia Woodmore feels a prickling on her skin that alerts her to things she needs to know. Angelica Woodmore can touch an object and see its owner’s moment of death — which young women faced with marriage proposals from fat, old farts might be willing to pay a little pocket change for and some nefarious types (such as Moldavi) might find invaluable knowledge to have about their enemies. Youngest sister Sonia Woodmore is hiding far away in an abbey, refusing to use her gift, which turns out to be a really interesting one!

When Chas absconds with Narcise, Moldavi will do anything to get her back. Because NO ONE TAKES HIS THINGS. So he sends his goons out to kidnap Maia and Angelica Woodmore. Who, until this point, have focused entirely on flirting, frivolity, and maintaining the appearance of propriety, blissfully ignorant of vampires and their notorious brother’s profession.

Dimitri’s dark and dour household is completely disrupted by the arrival of the bubbly debutantes, then erupts into chaos as they find themselves under attack. The very proper and efficient Maia is patiently awaiting her fiance’s return from Europe, and pretty darn perturbed to be foisted upon the cold Corvindale. She already had her hands full keeping her feisty sister Angelica in line, for whom reputation is not the highest concern. When the unscrupulous Voss takes an interest in Angelica, the illusion of their protected little world begins to unravel, and it isn’t long before both gals discover a few things about the terrors lurking beyond. Thankfully, they’re not as delicate as their brother raised them to be.

Why three books?

It takes a trilogy to tell the whole story through the multiple points of view of all the main characters. These unique perspectives illuminate different parts of the story, allow events to unfold at just the right pace, and let us know how other characters perceive various events. (Note that these books are sold under two names, which is a little confusing, but seems to be the result of multiple marketing visions and lets you have a choice of covers.)

The Vampire Voss / Lucifer’s Rogue — Initially, we see the events from the perspectives of Voss and Angelica, as he tries to coax some information from her that he can sell to Moldavi. Voss loves to while away time by figuring out secrets, including the Asthenia for each Dracule. This backfires on occasion, and it also ensures that other Dracule (especially Dimitri and Giordan) do not trust him. In Voss’s book, we are introduced to all the characters and jump right into the middle of the elder Woodmore sisters’ story as they are being rushed off to Corvindale’s residence without warning...which as we discover later is not where things began. And as it turns out, we get an incomplete and sometimes misleading assessment of particular characters.

The Vampire Dimitri / Lucifer’s Saint — In Dimitri’s book, we discover that he’s not the cold, unfeeling asshole we saw from Voss’s and Angelica’s points of view. Nor does Maia have a pointy stick up her ass. This was actually my favorite book of the trilogy, mostly because I figured out that there was a lot more going on than I’d realized in the first book and there was quite a large assortment of intriguing characters involved. Once we gain Dimitri’s and Maia’s perspectives, we add new plot drivers, fill in a few holes, and move the story further along chronologically.

The Vampire Narcise / Lucifer’s Warrior — We step back in time briefly to learn the back stories for Cesar and Narcise Moldavi, and more than we ever wanted to know about her torture and his depravity. Giordan Cale finally moves front and center rather than being a mysterious sidekick, we find out just what’s been going on with Chas and Narcise, and we discover Sonia Woodmore’s vampire-fighting skill and conundrum. We finally get a big showdown with Moldavi. Though the stories overlap in the books, the different POVs keep them from being repetitive — each book adds another layer of complexity to the story until everything is finally resolved, one way or another.

Treats for Gardella fans!

I was especially delighted by the crossover characters from the Gardella Vampire Hunters who popped up in this series. In addition to the mention of Victoria Gardella’s Aunt Eustacia, Summa Gardella of the vampire-fighting Venators, her trusted companion and advisor Kritanu dispenses wisdom when needed. We learn that the Dracule and the vampires hunted by the Venators have different origins, and different family bloodlines genetically designed to hunt them.

And the ethereal Wayren makes several appearances! I can’t tell you how much I love this enigmatic character! I had the biggest grin on my face when I recognized her the first time, and all of a sudden I just knew I would love how these stories turned out. The timeless Wayren dresses like a medieval chatelaine, mysteriously comes and goes, always providing wise counsel and support to souls who seek a certain path.

One of the reasons I picked up these books was to learn more about Chas Woodmore. I met him in Roaring Midnight, the first book in Macey Gardella’s new series, which I read because I wasn’t ready to leave the Gardella world after finishing the 5 books in Victoria Gardella’s series! And I look forward to seeing what’s next for Chas as Macey’s series continues! Over the last few months, I have become an avid fan of Gleason’s intriguing vampire mythologies and characters.

My final verdict? The Regency Draculia trilogy is another highly entertaining PNR series from Colleen Gleason that I recommend when you’re looking for something fun that will keep you reading as fast as you can to find out whether these characters can ever find their HEA and such a mess can ever be set right!

This Wench rates the Regency Draculia trilogy...

Have you read the Regency Draculia books? Or other books by Colleen Gleason? Which are your favorites? I’m looking forward to reading her other series, and I hope you’ll share your recommendations in the comments below!


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