A Duel With the Vampire Lord by Elise Kova is the newest stand-alone in her Married To Magic series. Each of the novels takes place in different parts of Kova’s world, with human and magical beings separated by the Fade. However, the Fade cannot keep all magical beings from crossing over and encountering humans. The newest release focuses on the vampires’ long history of tension with humans.
The novel follows Floriane, the revered forge maiden of her town, Hunter’s Hamlet. In her world, everyone for generations has only known constant battle with the vampires. Yet, both sides are unaware of the full truth of their histories. The vampires are under a curse, which does not only affect them. The Vampire Lord Ruvan needs a human’s help to finally put an end to his people’s misery and start anew. This leads him to take Floraine from her home of Hunter’s Hamlet and offers her a bargain to secure her help in finding the source of the curse that eats away at every vampire. They become blood sworn, which binds them through mind and body to work together for both of their people.
Floraine and Ruvan have a very rocky start; they are firmly on the sides of enemies, and it takes a lot for them to break down their walls and reassess history as they knew it. As Floriane learns what the vampires have been through, she is able to accept it. She does wrestle with the new information and what she has known her whole life in what feels like a very natural way while progressing the story forward.
Ruvan is a classic hero who goes to great lengths to save his people, sacrificing himself to ensure a better future. He is not perfect, making him all the more real. He has to confront his own prejudices against humans and discover that there is more to the past than he previously believed. I would have enjoyed seeing things from his point of view to understand more of what was going on in his mind, but Kova leaves enough crumbs from Floraine’s point of view that it isn’t too hard to guess.
Floraine and Ruvan are quintessential enemies-to-lovers and reluctant allies. I love the middle stage of enemies-to-lovers, where friendship forms. While we get that, it is quick and still charged with their attraction and bond that it feels to move through that stage quickly. The two are drawn to each other, and things start getting steamy not too long into their alliance. The progression into lovers is a little fast, but it still feels natural as Floraine needs to relearn her own history and wrestle with her changing emotions along the way.
Kova weaves a beautiful love story amidst a magical world full of curses, confronting prejudices, and mysteries to uncover. If you need an escape into the fantasy genre without the commitment of a whole series, Kova’s Married to Magic offers stand alone novels that do an excellent job transporting you and building a world effortlessly.
A Duel With the Vampire Lord is available wherever books are sold.