Solange Drake is about to turn sixteen and she just wants to be a normal teenager. That’s hard enough when she’s got seven big brothers hovering over her, but what really sucks is that she knows she’s going to die on her birthday. If she’s strong enough to survive the Bloodchange, she’ll return as a powerful vampire — the only female vampire born (not made) in centuries and, according to an ancient prophecy, she’ll be the rightful vampire queen. She doesn’t really want to be queen, but there are plenty of people who are hoping she’ll oust Lady Natasha, the evil pretender.
Solange has lots of support — her seven gorgeous brothers, her powerful parents, several bodyguards, and her best friend Lucy who may not have any supernatural stuff going on, but who’s got enough guts and spunk to hold her own. Solange has enemies, too, of course. Not just Lady Natasha and her evil minions, but also vampire hunter Kieran Black who’s out to prove himself worthy of his calling by bringing down the infamous Solange Drake.
Hearts at Stake, the first novel in Alyxandra Harvey’s DRAKE CHRONICLES, is a really fluffy young adult paranormal romance. This isn’t usually my thing (okay, it’s never my thing), but the DRAKE CHRONICLES books were on sale, so I’m giving them a try. Hearts at Stake is fun, silly, light, and requires no mental effort. The plot is mostly predictable and the writing is far from elegant (example: “I scowled at the open bag, panting and scowling.”). The two heroines, Solange and Lucy, are likeable girls and will appeal to most teenagers. As is often the case in teenage romance novels, Solange does occasionally stupid things that seem to serve the plot more than her own survival.
All the boys are nearly indistinguishable from each other and they display those annoying masculine behaviors that, for some reason, teenage girls seem to find irresistible: jaw and fist clenching, growling, wrist grabbing, backing girls up against the walls, etc. Girls, you may think it’s adorable when teenage boys display these kinds of immature mating behaviors — perhaps you think it’s some kind of indication of how much they want you — but I guarantee that when they’ve grown into adult men who can’t control their emotions, you will not find jaw clenching and wrist grabbing cute anymore.
Despite my complaints, I’ll admit that Hearts at Stake kept me entertained for a few mindless hours and I’m certain that many teenage girls (the target demographic) will like it, which is why I’m giving it a generous three stars. If it’s light shallow fun you’re looking for, this will hit the spot. If you need deep characters, meaningful insights, unique plot or elegant prose, look elsewhere.
I listened to the audio version which has two narrators: Elieen Stevens, who narrates the chapters from Lucy’s perspective, and Michal Friedman who narrates Solange’s chapters. I thought Eileen Stevens was wonderful, but I didn’t like Michal Friedman as well. Her voice is a little childish and I never quite believed she was Solange which was one of the things that prevented me from losing myself in the story. I didn’t think either narrator did a good job with the male voices.