Book Review

The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason

C+

Title: The Bleeding Dusk
Author: Colleen Gleason
Publication Info: Signet February 2007
ISBN: 0451223268
Genre: Paranormal

First, please pardon the obnoxious “Buy now” link. Until I know what’s up with the images on our server, I don’t want to host broken image links or load new graphics that might later disappear.

In book 3 of the five-part Gardella series, Victoria has assumed the rule of Illa Gardella and is in Rome chasing after the keys to the Door of Alchemy. If she and the other venators get into the chamber first, the good guys win. If the vampires get into the chamber first, it would be bad. Very bad.

The good points: Gleason as usual excels at reminding me of what happened in the previous two books without dumping too much detail on my head, or bringing in a “As you know, Bob” character or conversation. As I’ve often whinged about, my memory is for crapcakes and the easy reminders of past events led me to recall a great deal more than what the reference provided, so I went back into the larger story arc with few holes in my recollection. Furthermore, Gleason has mad skills when it comes to creating flawed characters. Even when I wanted to bash Victoria over the head with something for being stubborn and obtuse, I still liked her, or at worst respected her motivation for whatever action made me cringe. Gleason is particularly strong at creating active, palpable tension through both complicated fight scenes and individual character stories.

The not-so-good points: Victoria becomes Illa Gardella, and administrative details ensue. Thus, The Bleeding Dusk is a lot of transition and in my opinion is lighter on action plot.

The writing is solid but it doesn’t contain as much punch-to-kick action as books 1 and 2, and I was left feeling let down by the story on the whole.

One of the two major conflicts to be resolved in the larger story arc is a love triangle, and I am not rooting for Sebastian. He has more screen time in this book, and perhaps because I’m rooting for a different character pairing, I didn’t enjoy or become more sympathetic to Sebastian as a result of this book. And I’ve been navel gazing about why it is that the fact that *my* choice didn’t get enough face time makes me both disappointed with the present book while simultaneously eagerly awaiting the next because in my opinion? OMG MAX ANGST = HOT HOT HOT. WANT MORE MAX PLS KTHXBYE.

In this book, Sebastian has to settle one of his major conflicts – his loyalty to his powerful vampire grandfather vs. his desire for Victoria – and has to reveal the true nature of his character. By the end of the novel he is only slightly less ambiguous than it has been in previous novels, but still a large and knobby mystery to Victoria, and to me as a reader. 

The scenes between them read to me as if they were more carnal, and not so much emotional, which of course gives me real hope for Max, because I’m a pleated-skirt skimpy-top color-coordinated-scrunchie-wearing cheerleader for Team Pesaro. Rah rah rah. But then, I have to ask whether my preference for Max could have colored my perceptions of the scenes with Sebastian, and if any reader who hopes Victoria ends up with Sebastian could have reveled in their hot attraction and erotic chemistry.

In any triangle-based conflict, I have a fear that the author will invent a shallow reason to tarnish the nobility and worth of one of the characters so the other becomes an obvious choice. I don’t think that Gleason will pull such a shabby trick; my big fear now is that I’ll feel genuinely bad for the character Victoria doesn’t choose because the three of them, Max, Victoria and Sebastian, are layered, flawed, and fascinating characters individually. The three of them playing off one another is more than a little sparky as well.

Further, Gleason definitely has her eye on the larger story arc, the development of the Big Bad that will likely return to face Victoria and the other Venators, and the development of Victoria into a female leader who hopes to equal the legacy of her grandmother’s time as Illa Gardella. While this installment didn’t leave me breathless and edgy as the previous two books did, The Bleeding Dusk did cover my curiosity with accelerant and light a big ass match.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    MaryKate says:

    Great review, Sarah. I would have graded the book higher, but I agree, it’s a challenge to keep momentum moving forward when you’re writing the middle book in a series that has threads going through five books.

    My overall reaction to the book is that those on Team Sebastian will remain on Team Sebastian, but for me as another pom-pom waving member of Team Max, I fell a little harder for his cranky, broody ass. I love how Victoria totally brings out Max’s inner third grade boy.

    I think this a superb series and believe that Colleen’s star is on the rise. The books have become a favorite re-read for me.

  2. 2
    Rachel says:

    Oh, full-fledged member of Team Pesaro here. And I agree with Mary Kate. If you like Sebastian, you’ll still like Sebastian. But I keep thinking the final choice has to be Max because he gets the most backstory. And yeah, my happy ass will be in Barnes and Noble the day Book IV comes out. I heart this series…

  3. 3

    I’m always disappointed when a triangle is set up, and it turns into a pair instead of a threesome.

    I mean, wouldn’t that be the ultimate kind of HEA?  [whistles casually]

  4. 4
    Lazaraspaste says:

    I’ve been wanting to start this series but I’m a little bit nervous because I have done the these-books-are-really-great-will-they-or-wont-they-my-god-they-never-stop-what?! thing with a series before. That being said, I’m a little gun shy of tyring the Gleason books although I want to as long as this one most important question can be answered: Is there going to be a definitive end to this series or is it going to go on ad infinitum?

  5. 5

    I’m currently rooting for Sebastian, but I’m willing to be wooed over to Max’s side. I’ll be picking this book up tomorrow, because I’ve promised myself a weekend reading treat.

  6. 6
    RStewie says:

    “I’m always disappointed when a triangle is set up, and it turns into a pair instead of a threesome.

    I mean, wouldn’t that be the ultimate kind of HEA?”

    Victoria, I’m with you there.  It’d be like Thanksgiving: pie AND cake!!!  Or maybe turkey AND ham would be a better analogy?…

    live65…hopefully longer than that, but only if I’m still fully functional…

  7. 7

    Sarah, thanks so much for reading the book and posting the review—and congrats on joining MK and Rachel on Team Pesaro.

    Lazaraspaste, you asked about the length of the series: there will be five books about Victoria.

    I’m writing the fifth and final one now, and that will be the end of her story/character arc.

  8. 8
    Jennifer says:

    Dude, I ALWAYS root for the threesome. Every time. But in our modern era, as Phoebe sang once upon a time, you “must decide! you must decide! even though I made them up, you must decide!”

    Okay, off to write up my own review since I finished last night. And was all, “Holy cow, I canNOT concentrate on my weights class” after finishing it right before gym time.

  9. 9
    DD says:

    I just finished this book this morning and I must say- I can’t wait for the next on! I am disappointed that the series will end in five books. I want more! I am a MAX girl, but grew to love Vioget a bit more this time. It seems these men have a past history is that is even more emotional than we thought.

    I agree with you, Sarah, about Gleason’s flawed characters; they are very gripping. Your review seems to conflict with your overall grade. I think you review is “above average” in which I would agree, and the grade of “C” implies a bit of mediocrity to me. I find Gleason’s writing to be well paced and I am glad that she doesn’t conform to sappy HEA or quick fixes to placate readers. Her characters make poor choices, have issues and we have to cope right along with them. Characters who need to die- die, even if they are well liked by characters & readers alike.

  10. 10
    Kia Gary says:

    A great review and comments from all but I’m surprised no one has mentioned THE KISS!  No matter what team you are on, THAT KISS was HOT!  I so agree Colleen has a gift for the creation of tension and for me, it exploded in THE KISS. It was hot when reading it the first time, and the description of what was discovered after Max moved away, was a double whammy! I had to go back a read the scene again! Okay, I’m done now.  Thanks for listening:-)

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