Title: Bulls and Blood (The Blood & Thorn Ranch #1)
Author Name & Publisher: T.A. Chase (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: July 21, 2015 – 96 pgs
Breaking the rules has never been Wesley’s way…until he meets Mino.
Rule Number Two that the Thorn brothers live by is that employees of the ranch are off-limits. Wesley has always followed that rule, never stepping out of his comfort zone to do more than talk to one of the cowhands that help run his family’s ranch. Being a vampire makes it easier, since he doesn’t go out during the day.
Mino’s been interested in the youngest Thorn brother since he began working at The Blood & Thorn Ranch. It’s those stupid rules that hold him back from making the first move. Well, those and the fact that Wesley could kill him in a blink of his eye. Being human in a world of supernatural creatures makes living difficult, since he’s considered prey.
These two males, from different species and societies, must find a way to meet in the middle of their worlds if they have a chance at love.
As a fan of vampires, shifters and gay cowboys, I was excited by a favourite author writing about all of them in one series. And it starts well. I love the premise of a family of vampire brothers running a ranch.
I liked the various characters and personalities on the ranch, but this story felt really rushed. Such complicated world-building takes time and precision. Introducing this whole new world and a convincing love story in a very short novella didn’t quite work. The vampire brotherhood has also been done before – JR Ward and Lara Adrian have both written popular m/f vampire brotherhood series, so aside from the ranch setting, the premise doesn’t feel entirely fresh.
The slow character development and cautious build towards romance that I love in Chase’s Home series just isn’t present here. Wesley never becomes fully real for me, and he certainly doesn’t ever become vulnerable enough to love. Mino comes across as a desperate, wide-eyed adolescent with a crush on a pop-star. I usually get passionate about Chase’s characters, but I felt like I didn’t even know these two. I’m also not sure that their relationship fully resolves in this first book, so this may be an installment with Wesley and Mino’s story continuing later.
The story in this first book is relatively simple. Someone has illegally sold the brothers a shifter instead of a real bull. As a result the brothers are investigated by the Vampire council while they attempt to bring the real criminals to justice.
The story works well and is simple enough for a novella. There are a couple of very enjoyable steamy sex scenes. There is a great rapport between the brothers and some engaging banter between Mino and Oak. Oddly, I enjoyed the scenes between the men on the ranch more than the scenes between the two leads.
I get the feeling that this could evolve into a great series over several books, but I will need a great deal more character development before I can really fall for these characters.
There is beauty in every kind of love, so why not live a life without boundaries? Experiencing everything the world offers fascinates me and writing about the things that make each of us unique is how I share those insights. I live in the Midwest with a wonderful partner of thirteen years. When not writing, I’m watching movies, reading and living life to the fullest.