Dana reviews The Beast Within by Christian Baines (Published by Interactive Publications, May 23, 2013, 236 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb: Reylan is everything a Sydney vampire aspires to be: wealthy, handsome and independent, carefully feeding off companions plucked from the gay bars of Oxford Street.
When one of those companions is killed by Jorgas, a hot-headed young werewolf prowling his streets, Reylan reluctantly puts his cherished lifestyle of blood and boys on hold to help a mysterious alliance of supernatural beings track down the beast. It can’t be that hard … not when Jorgas keeps coming after him.
But there’s more to this werewolf than a body count and a bad attitude. As their relationship grows deeper and more twisted, Reylan tastes Jorgas’ blood, reawakening desires the vampire had thought long dead. And what evolves between them may be far more dangerous than some rival predator in the dark…
Vampires have been popular characters in books for a very long time. They have been soulless monsters, sexy lovers, and sparkling granite like creatures. It never changes that they drink blood, but I always appreciate a different take on their existence; how they were created, and whether their bite can be pleasurable or deathly. I prefer the former.
Christian Baines did create to me a unique “world” for this story. Among humans live paranormal creatures, like Blood Shades (vampires), werewolves, and Shapers (witches). There is a lot of animosity between the different factions, but they seem to live by certain rules like not killing humans and bringing attention to themselves. I’m glad that Reylan can drink blood and has the control not to drain people. He appears to be compassionate. Often he provides them sexual pleasure while he does so, but he is impotent. This was new for me in a vampire novel. The vamps can cause pleasurable feelings in others but have no stirring of their own desires. Not just for this reason, this story didn’t come across as a m/m romance but as a Gay Fiction novel.
The only reason I could call it that is that Reylan prefers to feed from men over women. His best friend and fellow vampire Ross has trouble understanding his discriminating drinking habits. Now enter Jorgas, an unchecked werewolf who kills one of Reylan’s snacks. He doesn’t follow the rules and gains a lot of attention from others in their world who have authority and power to stop him. Reylan hates Jorgas, but when he gets a taste of Jorgas, he ends up feeling a desire for the wolf. There are moments here that get a bit confusing for me. There is a lot of fighting among some serious desire; from Jorgas who wants Reylan to control him, and from Reylan who feels something he never had before. I think Reylan leaves the encounter still unrelieved, but he does experience something he hasn’t in a very long time if ever.
Jorgas’ behavior leads the group to The Arcadia Trust. A group of paranormal beings who seem to want to educate and help werewolves, witches, and vampires who need it. They don’t appear to be what they say they are to me, not as altruistic as they claim. Luckily, Reylan doubts them as well after he reads a book they give him, and is literally transported to another time to see a moment in history that created the rift in between the paranormal species. This part of the story begs for more. I want to know if it’s accurate or a vision shown to Reylan in order to keep barriers in place.
Though there were things that confused me, and I questioned whether it was romance or fiction or even how LGBT the character was, but in the end, it was well written with interesting characters. I would honestly like to know more about what happens for Reylan and Jorgas, and the Arcadia Trust. I don’t feel like the story is finished until they are proven to be really working for the betterment of paranormals or to create hatred. Not to mention the history of their kinds; and whether sexual desires and love could arise when introduced to the right person.. er, werewolf.