Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Choice by Addison Albright Blog Tour

As a freshly turned vampire, Neil had frozen in panic when he’d found himself face-to-face with his ex-boyfriend, Cameron. Neil thought that misstep and its associated danger was all in the past, but Cameron’s current boyfriend, Dennis, is like a dog with a bone, and a keen imagination. When the two men’s curiosity progresses to the point the vampires consider their secrecy to be endangered, choices must be made.

Now that faction leader Albert has a blood-mate, he finds himself second-guessing his decisions. Neil would be crushed knowing his mistake led to human deaths, but Albert shouldn’t factor that into the difficult choices he must make. Will Albert’s indecision put the entire vampire establishment in danger? Or is redemption only a flamethrower away?

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Book 2
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Neil closed his eyes and bit back a whimper. He’d been so happy these past months loving Albert, a man—vampire—that in many ways he barely knew, yet somehow he could see and truly understand the man’s fundamental essence. Albert’s core…what made him tick. Although Neil wasn’t party to many of the details of faction business, he had made friends among the vampires, and he and Albert frequently socialized with other vamps of all “ages” and levels within the faction. Among their fellow moviegoers tonight had been one of the faction’s team leaders on one end of the scale, and a delivery driver on the other. Albert treated them all with the same respect and caring as he would likely give to fellow faction leaders or council members. If there was something within Albert’s power that would make life more enjoyable for his people without risking their safety, he did it.

Albert might have black blood flowing through his veins, but he didn’t have a black heart…he had a heart of gold. Neil knew that with every fiber of his being. But he also knew that Albert had to untangle ethical dilemmas that would make most people quake in dismay. At least, the good ones would flinch away from those concerns. Those with hearts steeped in foul malevolence would relish the decisions Albert faced.

Two men’s lives hung in the balance on one side of the scale versus a calculated risk to the lives of all vampires worldwide. Albert’s hand at Neil’s back steadied him as he wobbled. Neil reopened his eyes and stared into Albert’s.

It was as if Albert could read his mind. The look in the man’s eyes screamed that he understood Neil’s pain and would shoulder it if only he could.

Neil’s sorrow centered on knowing that two human lives were on the line because of his own screw-up. The downside to perfect recall was that he would never be able to forget his failure that day when he’d first been trusted out on his own as a fairly new vampire, delivering packages for the faction’s delivery service. He still had the occasional nightmare, reliving it…

The click of a door opening, and a light bark accompanied by the sound of footsteps, alerted Neil to a dog on the landing above him, heading down to be walked. This would be a little trickier than the incident this morning, since they’d be crossing paths in a narrow passageway, but he had his head in the right space now. He could deal with this.

He straightened confidently and slapped on a friendly smile. The dog came into view first, and Neil stutter-stepped, then froze when the man walking the Boston terrier—Hobbs was the dog’s name—came into view.

Hobbs whimpered but at least he didn’t try to dash in the opposite direction. Not that trying to bury himself in Cameron Ferguson’s shoes was much better. What the
hell was his ex doing in this building? Cam ground to a halt and stared with his mouth hanging open.

Which was Neil’s own damned fault for freezing and looking guilty, because the changes to his appearance had surprised even himself for the first few days, any time he’d caught sight of his reflection in a mirror. It would not have jumped out at Cam if Neil had managed to keep his cool.

“Oh, my God. Phillip? I heard you died.”

Cam moved as if to embrace him, and Neil finally—fucking
finally—broke out of his trance for damage control.

So yeah, it had been Neil’s mistake. If he’d kept his cool, given a disinterested nod or “how’s it goin’?” then Cam wouldn’t have taken a second look in his direction.

“Okay,” Neil whispered, since Albert seemed to be waiting for some sign that he had his emotions under control.

Albert tipped up Neil’s chin for a brief, gentle kiss that spoke more of his love for Neil than words could have done. Albert’s finger traced Neil’s jawline, while his eyes begged for understanding. Then he opened the door, and they stepped into the apartment.

The room, like the hall and stairs leading to it, was unlike most of the vampire-owned apartment buildings. At least, it was unlike the ones Neil had visited. This building was a loft conversion that had once been something else—a small warehouse or office building perhaps. The point that stood out to Neil was the highly polished concrete floor. The better to easily clean up DNA should the need arise?

Cameron and Dennis sat peacefully on steel stools in the otherwise-unfurnished vestibule. Doorways to the living areas were closed. If Neil were to guess, he’d say those doors contained heavy-duty soundproofing—a buffer between the apartment’s entryway and the outside walls and windows.

Cameron looked much the same as Neil remembered him. His dirty blond hair was subtly highlighted and cut short. Dennis had thick, straight, light brown hair, longer than Cameron’s, especially on top. Both pairs of brown eyes stared obliviously.

Four others stood waiting. Two men and two women. Vampires, obviously, although Neil wouldn’t have guessed that by their appearances, only by the fact they were there.

Albert quickly made the introductions. April and Lester had been on the street following them and communicating with Albert. Vinny and Bridget lived here.

“They’re prepped?” Albert asked.

Vinny nodded.

Albert glanced at Neil. “We have a tendency to inadvertently, and quite literally, scare the piss out of people, so it makes sense to have them ‘go’ while still under the influence.”

Neil winced. That did seem like a wise move, though, whether it was so the two could walk away inconspicuously or to minimize potential DNA on the scene.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The Choice is the second installment of The Faction series. While I doubt it would be difficult or confusing to read as a standalone, I do suggest reading The Recruit first to get more of the story.

In this installment, Neil is a delivery driver, who accidentally comes upon his ex-boyfriend, who immediately recognizes him even with the disguise and name change. This puts the Faction at risk, and Albert must take precautions.

The ex and his new boyfriend are watched to make sure they don't go looking for Neil, but obviously their minds immediately jump to vampires, which means they are a problem that must be dealt with.

While this was an interesting premise, which made me enjoy this installment more than the first, entertainment-wise, the story itself is still missing key pieces to make it a cohesive read. There is zero emotion, the scenes are not developed, nor are the characters.

The world-building is a bit of a letdown. Vampires are nothing special. They don't bite people, nor do they experience any pleasure or enjoyment (think of us eating cake after dieting, we would at least ENJOY it on an innocent level). They have no special gifts, and the conversion takes less than a second and done. The only thing that is interesting is how they recruit others.

There is no romance, no steam, no flirting or banter, which would be fine if the series didn't feature a thousand-year-old vampire and his Blood Mate, who was over thirty human years at conversion. Their interactions are more befitting for young adult, of characters beneath age sixteen. Everything is moralistic in the extreme, where they don't bite because that's inhuman, or turn anyone against their will, only the dying who fit into a role, yet have no issue murdering humans that learn of the existence of the Faction, which is a bit hypocritical and bizarre. For me, I need flaws and strife, a bit of depth, to make a read realistic, even paranormal in nature.

There is no emotion, intimacy, nor connection. We're just told with a sentence here or there that they are blood mates and that's it.

While the novellas are written well without any editing issues, without some depth, without it feeling as if a checkbox has been clicked, and without everything being so 'perfect,' I will not be continuing on with this series.

This is an odd sequel or serial because while it doesn’t really continue to develop Albert and Neil’s relationship, it also doesn’t offer a second couple for readers to engage with. Some months on from the first book and Neil and Albert are enjoying perfect domestic bliss. Because of the bloodmatch thing, Neil and Albert will apparently experience domestic bliss for the rest of eternity. Which is great – but not very entertaining.

Conflict in this story comes from Neil’s ex-boyfriend and his new partner digging into Neil’s past and present. Albert must make a decision about the two men’s futures and the risks they pose to the vampire community.

Much like the first book, this story moves quickly and relies on tired tropes. There is very little character development and I didn’t find myself invested enough in Dennis or Cameron to care what happened to them. After two books, I’m still not sure I know Neil or Albert terribly well and I don’t really have any desire to know them better.

All sorts of world building has been borrowed from various Urban Fantasy series in these books and I found myself more engaged with matching concepts to original creators than I was with the actual stories. This isn’t a favourite series and finishing this second story was hard work.

The Recruit

Albert Manlii has walked this earth for more than two thousand years, but survival on his own was never easy. Now he leads a faction of highly organized vampires who carefully guard the secret of their existence. Unlike the old days, potential recruits are carefully selected and presented with an offer.

Phillip Brewer has weeks to live – if he lets his disease run its course. He doesn’t want to die, but given a choice, will his desire to live outweigh his concerns about the vampires’ ethics?

When the new recruit’s missteps are cause for concern, can Albert control the fallout, or will Phillip’s life once again be torn apart?

Add to Goodreads –

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
JMS Books
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Addison Albright is a new-to-me author. The Recruit is the first in The Faction series.

The Recruit was a super fast, not too deep novella that I read in under an hour.

At the start, Albert shows how the Faction goes about recruiting new vampires, where they must be of a specific age and look to fill a role needed in the group, as they cycle their identities and professions. Choosing Phillip, who is dying of terminal cancer, Albert feels a spark.

The whole of the novella is Phillip's transformation into Neil, and I don't mean the transition from human to vampire, as that took less than a second and less than a sentence. which was anticlimactic in the extreme. Neil's diction, clothing, and profession as a delivery man.

The world-building is quick and simple, not explained or shown. The romance is instant fated mates. Blood Mates. Yet a blood mate is not explained, nor does anything have to happen metaphysically to tie them together. The romance is just accepted from the start, no hot and steamy on the pages. I need to add that there isn't even any fade-to-black action. It's nonexistent in the romance, intimacy, and physical. The author tells us it exists a sentence here or there thrown in, but there is nothing shown whatsoever on the pages. Most important to me was some sort of emotional intimacy, but then again, Neil and Albert don't show any emotions.

To be quite frank, while this was a quick read, with no editing issues, and was easy to follow and fall into the story, there wasn't much depth to capture my attention. It felt like a checklist of things, which meant the emotions were missing.

As for Phillip turned Neil, who was a thirty-something with terminal cancer... he fit into the Faction because of his age and maturity. His age and condition would have matured him, yet he comes off as an adolescent throughout the pages and the next installment, perhaps younger at times in his actions/reactions. Like jumping at a noise, then running into Albert's arms to shudder like a spooked puppy. This comes off as someone decades younger, without living experience, and it made it difficult for me to take him seriously.

This is pretty much a paint-by-numbers vampire story. The author strings together tired genre tropes without adding anything terribly original or memorable.

Albert and Phillip both have the potential to be fantastic characters, but both are underwritten. Phillip’s cancer storyline should pack an emotional punch, but readers don’t really get to engage with his emotions. Instead, the story is mostly narrated from Albert’s pragmatic and calculating perspective. The bloodmatch/soulmate trope is used to eliminate the need for any sort of romantic tension between Albert and Phillip. Ultimately, the story doesn’t really offer much of any character or relationship development and I found it almost impossible to connect with Albert or Phillip.

Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance in contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal genres. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

Connect with Addison

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Choice (The Faction #2) and The Recruit (The Faction #1) by Addison Albright to read and review for this tour.

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