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Saturday, June 28, 2008:
"The Rest Falls Away" by Colleen Gleason (2007)
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Signet (January 2, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0451220072
ISBN-13: 978-0451220073
The first in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles...
Beneath the glitter of dazzling 19th-century London Society lurks a bloodthirsty evil... .
Vampires have always lived among them, quietly attacking unsuspecting debutantes and dandified lords as well as hackney drivers and Bond Street milliners. If not for the vampire slayers of the Gardella family, these immortal creatures would have long taken over the world.
In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake.
But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget.
And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.
I picked up the first of the three books in this series quite some time ago, then the 2nd, and finally the 3rd, but they sat languishing in my tbr pile, sadly ignored. Having read numerous vampire stories, I just felt burnt out, and though the premise to the story sounded intriguing (plus I'm a huge fan of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), it wasn't until this past week I finally felt ready to read it. Plus I'm a lurker, sometimes poster at the lovely Colleen Gleason's blog, and I wanted to be able to talk about the books instead of just wonder about them.
When we first meet Victoria, she has already accepted her destiny as a Venator (someone who hunts vampires) and is training with her elderly Aunt Eustacia and fellow Venator Max Pesaro in the ways of this long-standing family tradition. Her new life is made up of white lies and clever manuveuring as she tries to balance her social life with her new responsibilities, and this is made even more complicated when she catches the eye of eligible bachelor Phillip de Lacey, Marquess of Rockley. But Victoria is determined to have it all, and accepts the marriage proposal, promising her aunt that she will not be giving up her night job, she just plans to enjoy her life to the fullest, which includes a husband who loves her.
Of course things never work out the way she planned, as Phillip is a very protective suitor, and ends up following Victoria to a seedy establishment crawling with vampires. See, while some people believe in vampires, Phillip is not one of them, and is unaware of the dangers in following Victoria when she sneaks around at night, which causes Victoria to question her decision to involve Phillip in her life. Maybe Max is right; Venators are meant to be alone.
Meanwhile vampire queen Lilith has not forgotten that the Venators, with the assistance of mysterious Frenchman Sebastian Vioget, have taken something she wants very, very badly, and she's none too happy about it. She is gathering her forces, planning her revenge, and no one is safe from her vengeance....
My thoughts:
I must admit I don't know why I wanted so long to read this one. While there were similarities to Buffy, this book is original enough not to feel like a re-cap of a beloved series yet still retains a hint of some of my favorite elements of the show. Victoria is older (19/20) when she comes into her new role, and she's not one bit conflicted about accepting what is to happen. In fact she embraces her new life, probably not as captivated by society and the endless parties as many young women of her age and station would be, and takes to her lessons with a genuine interest. She's not one bit intimidated by long-time Venator Max, whom she first meets in a rather interesting way. Max seems to find her frivolous and flighty, yet is grudgingly proven wrong when Victoria steps up and gets the slaying done. I enjoyed their sparring, and felt they were on equal ground there. Having got a heads-up on Max's crankiness, I found him more amusing than irritating, and loved how Victoria could get to him so easily.
***Spoilers***Without giving too much away, I must say I liked Phillip quite a bit, felt he would be the perfect man for Victoria if she weren't a vampire slayer, but I knew from the beginning he wasn't going to end up with her in the end. It reminded me of Buffy's Riley - a truly great guy but just not able to compete with her calling. It was very sad, because he was rather special, and I mourned. It hurt to let him go. ***end of spoilers***
Sebastian. Whoa. Now, I haven't made my choice by any means, as I didn't feel like there was enough Max time to give me sufficient evidence to pick one over the other, but so far, I'm liking Sebastian quite a bit. He's a bit naughty, and super mysterious, and with those eyes and accent, I totally get his appeal. Come on, who wouldn't get a little breathless when witnessing his viewing of Victoria's vis bulla, not once but twice? Of course Victoria coulda felt a little more guilty about that, but she's only a human. A Venator, yes, but human all the same.
If I had any issues with the story, it was that Victoria seemed to be a little lacking in emotion. Not cold, exactly, but I didn't feel her happiness at being in love and engaged, or believe she suffered much in trying to juggle her dual identities. She seemed easily able to separate herself from the emotional toll such an existence must have lead her to feel at times. She's easily able to fool her mother, doesn't really have any female friends to turn to outside of her aging aunt, and appears not to need much sleep. But still, I genuinely liked Victoria, maybe even because she wasn't overly emotional and didn't spend her time wringing her hands over what to do. It isn't until the end we see beyond the tough shell inside to her vulnerable heart.
As much as I cannot wait to delve into book #2, I find myself not ready to move on after the ending to "The Rest Falls Away". It really got to me and I need time before I am able to continue the series. Not that it's bad in any way, it just hit me hard, and since I love emotional stories, that is actually a very good sign that it affected me so strongly. I do love that.
RatingL **** 1/2 out of *****

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  1. I liked Philip also. But I am on Team Sebastian! :D

  2. Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this first one. I always tell Colleen the thing I love/hate about her books is that if Victoria isn't genuinely suffering, Colleen isn't trying. LOL! It does make the books so good, but also if you've invested in the people in Victoria's life, you end up aching for Victoria as her responsibilities take their toll.

    I hope you'll keep with the series though. It's one of my favorites.

    And, Katie is wrong, TEAM MAX all the way. :wink:

  3. I had to do the same thing. I had to take a break before the next book. The ending had hit me pretty hard as well.

    I still haven't picked a team yet :o)

  4. *jumps back in*
    *flies away like the wind*

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