Publisher: August 10th 2010 by Doubleday
"Blood is the true love potion. Remember?" He twisted my long black hair around his hand, sweeping it from the curve of my neck, where he buried his face. His lips worked their way up to my ear. "There is no going back, Mina, not this time. I am answering your call. And you have answered mine."
"No," I said. "No going back."
I knew what he was going to do because he had done it before. My body remembered the sensation of it, and my every nerve heightened with expectation. I knew the danger and the pleasure, but there was no turning back now.*
You know the story of Dracula. The vicious blood-thirsty Count that lured good decent people to near ruin with his deceitfulness and mysterious abilities. He's painted as a villain, a great source of evil, something to fear. You might remember, Mina, the wife of the unfortunate Jonathan Harker, who became twisted up in Dracula's malevolent games, along with her hapless husband. Dracula, as revenge for Jonathan and Van Helsing and Co.'s plot against him, fed from Mina and in turn gave her his blood, intending to turn her into a vampire.
How terribly boring, and unromantic.
If blood could form such a bond between two beings that they remain fixedly connected across time and space, surely there must be more to the story. We've seen poor Mina as pure and perfect, as a victim, but have you ever stopped to imagine the tale and wonder she would have to impart, having experienced such a bond with someone? Wouldn't you wonder if she had really wanted it to be broken?
Dracula in Love is Mina's story.
Mina has begun sleep walking again. The mysterious, beguiling voice that haunted her youth has once again entered her dreams, and it calls to her, compelling her to answer it, to search for it. It awakens something in her, something ancient, and vivid and sensual, something that defies the sedate teachings and morality of her chaste life as a school mistress. She has pledged her love to Jonathan, who is essentially good, and genuinely loves her. He will be a dutiful husband, and she a proper wife and together, they will enjoy an uncomplicated life that will make them adequately happy.
But at night it is not visions of her fiance that invade her sleep, it is a much older, timeless, deeper vision that beckons her and not only is she powerless to deny it, she doesn't want to. It has called to her for hundreds of years and once a life time, she answers.
What I really want to do is just gush and slobber all over the place in response to this book. It's really difficult to come up with anything intelligent to say about it because I'm still dribbling over it like an idiot. I LOVED THIS BOOK. It is sinful, and decadent and violently romantic- there were whole passages that I just want to dip in chocolate and eat. I imagine its calorie count to be very high. It's one of those absurdly romantic novels that are the bane of all men and as a woman I had to resist the urge to glare at my beloved and demand to know how come he can't be more like Dracula. We don't want just love, we want eternal love, lust and devotion and it helps if you're ridiculously rich and good looking. Like Dracula.
I'm also suddenly a bit crazy fan girl over Essex's writing, which makes this book almost more artistic than it does literary. Every page is a picture and yet there are no illustrations. The author used all the classic elements in Stoker's original with a few minor- ok, many, many luxurious upgrades. Where Stoker was trying to shock and depict the horror and terror that Dracula incited, Essex approached horror from a different angle and grappled instead with the horror of losing one's heart. The intensity of the story is still there, just with a much needed woman's touch, making it almost unbearably romantic and as an added bonus, tastefully erotic.
I was fortunate enough to read the bulk of this in one sitting, on a dark, stormy day. Sometimes life just gets it.
*Quote taken from an ARC and may differ in the finished copy. Thank you to the publisher for making my day and sending it.