REVIEW: Merciful Bleed – J. HALI STEELE

Merciful Bleed Book Cover Merciful Bleed
Serpentine Vampires, Book 1
J. Hali Steele
Novella, LGBT, Horror, M/M, Vampires
Amazon Digital Services LLC
February 23, 2019

Blood and venom—one sustains life, one kills!

Paladin Bodine, called a Bleeder, is serpentine. He’s paid to extinguish unmanageable vampires and even end the lifecycle of those old and tired of existing. He cheats, lies and skulks, whatever it takes for his serpents to deliver. Paladin is damn good at what he does until he meets a vampire who turns his slithering world upside down.

Braid Calderon means to stop the individual hired to end his sire’s life at any cost. He follows the murderous man whose strangeness entices and delights Braid from a distance and he fails to consider his body’s reaction when he meets the killer face to face.

Both cold and distant, one hot coming together changes their lives forever!

A short paranormal MM romance with coarse language, explicit sex, and an HEA. Another character gets to tell his short, hot story soon and both can be read as standalones.

Available at Amazon.

Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz

Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team

I’m glad this is the promised first of a series, because the premise is fascinating – vampires and serpentines, immortal creatures who live in the human world unseen and unimagined.

When vampires go bad – i.e. when they start to kill their source of sustenance, which is us – serpentines are called in to extirpate them. Serpentines, a creation of this author, are also fanged humanoids, but they are linked to venomous serpents and can kill vampires with their venom and their other physical and magical powers. Vampires are more human than serpentines, who feel no emotion, but both can pass in the human world.

The triggering circumstance for this heavily-loaded short story is the death-wish of one of the oldest surviving vampires in the world. This ancient being has long been an ally of the serpentines, but he has had enough of life. Cases like this are handled personally by the chief serpentine, one Paladin Bodine.

To muddy the waters, however, the old vampire’s only creation, Braid Calderon, has decided to gainsay his sire’s wish and to stop Paladin from doing his job.

Within this small package is a swirling stew of imagery, sexual and fantastical. The author, to her credit, does a good job of cramming lots of vivid detail and enough backstory to help her reader grasp the somewhat hallucinatory narrative.

I ended this feeling, as I often do, that short stories are often inadequate to this kind of task. There is simply too much to stuff into this little space. However, I also found the story really interesting and well-crafted. I was fully engaged with the story while it lasted, and truly want to know what happens next.

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