Kiss and Consume by Lynelle Barrett

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Kiss and Consume is a 19th century romance set in a village plagued with vampire attacks. Follow our protagonist Abigail Hynes, as she tries to keep her mystic powers a secret after her father is blamed for the continuous murders in the town. After her parents’ execution, Abigail seeks solace in the arms of schoolmaster Levi Barnes. While Abigail tries to juggle her secrets, Levi is harboring some of his own. Will their love be able to withstand the crash when their shadowed lives collide?

Lynelle Barrett’s writing style is what captured my interest in the novel. Barrett managed to maintain a credible level of historical accuracy in content as well as in diction. She captured an archaic formality in her writing that felt natural to the setting without sacrificing reader comprehension or interest, which is something that many authors struggle to pull off. The wonderfully handled mechanics of Barrett’s writing is what prompted me to give this piece a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

The neglect of the subplot is what prohibited me from giving Kiss and Consume and higher rating. Barrett put great time and effort into the budding the romance between Abigail and Lee, however the same attention was not given to the presentation of the antagonist’s motives (and therefore also the development of genuine tension). What the reader learns about the vampires in this novel’s world is often rushed and not expanded upon. For example, early in the work we are introduced to the vampire bite and how that bite can translate into the vampire’s control of another being. Yet there are cases where the bite is not effective. Barrett offers the “the protagonist is exceptional and therefore impervious to the antagonist’s power” cliche as the sole explanation.

The reader is led on with the promise of an explanation, only to get a quick blurb of exposition about the protagonist’s grandmother, her grandmother’s abilities and her grandmother’s rather flimsy tie to the antagonist. This type of explanation comes across as boring and lazy when compared to the high quality of the writing and the deliberate attentiveness to the main plot. Then Barrett propels the story into a rushed handful of final chapters where she appears to distractedly wrap up loose ends. These were jarring disappointments that alienated me from the story.

Overall though, Kiss and Consume was a pleasant read. I particularly appreciated the unique treatment of the vampire romance as well as the parallelisms that Barrett drew between the insecurities of a human romantic relationship and how that tied into the vampire bond. I would recommend this work to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance as well as anyone who has an affinity for classic literature, but is looking to broaden their genre horizon.

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