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Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

November 15, 2010

Drake Chronicles, Book 1

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: December 22, 2009

Format: Trade Paperback

Status: First in the Drake Chronicles, followed by Blood Feud. Book three, Out for Blood, will come out December 21, 2010.

Source: Purchased by self

Genre: Teen Paranormal (Vampire)

Location: Unsure. Someplace rural, with lots of forests and underground caves. Likely Canada as that’s where Harvey is from.

Other Info: There will be at least four books in the Drake Chronicles. Book four is already contracted and Harvey is working on #5. Here’s hoping there’s one for each Drake brother!

Description: (From the author’s website):

Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead.

As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy. Lucy is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen.

Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this series. Well, let me rephrase that. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasn’t as silly as their covers. I’ve come across books one and two at Borders several times and rejected them out of hand. I keep making that mistake. Someday I’ll learn. Maybe.

Hearts at Stake begins the tale of Solange Drake. On her sixteenth birthday, Solange will follow the tradition of her family (in particular, her seven older brothers) and make the transition from human to vampire. Solange is the first female vampire to be born and not made in a long time. The Drake family is also royalty as far the vampire community goes. Except that the vampires are currently being ruled by Lady Natasha, who has banished the Drakes from court because they pose a threat to her sovereignty. Solange, in particular, is a threat because Lady Natasha’s former lover, a vampire named Montmarte, has begun to pursue her.

The novel opens from the perspective of Solange’s human best-friend, Lucy. Lucy and Solange have been friends forever, and Lucy and her parents are in on the Drake family’s big, vampiric secret. Solange is the more down-to-earth character–literally. Her hobby is pottery and she frequently has clay on her clothing. Lucy wears sequined scarves and is chatty and talkative. I liked Lucy best of all the characters in the book, except perhaps Solange’s brother Quinn.

Anyway, the narrative is told in alternating first person p.o.v., which makes sense because of the dual love stories that take place. My favorite by far was the developing relationship between Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas. This is mostly because their flirtation has plenty of opportunity to develop. There is lots of back and forth banter between the two, but we know from the start that the bickering is just foreplay. The other love arc is between Solange and the vampire hunter named Kieran Black. It doesn’t get much of chance to develop. This is partly because Lucy and Nicholas don’t start the book as strangers. You get the sense that things have been simmering between them for some time. Solange and Kieran’s romance is less believable because it is rushed. The good news is that this is a series…and Solange’s story is the main arc, so we haven’t seen the last of them.

I liked this book a lot. It’s a light read, but very satisfying, especially as an introduction to the series. I liked Lucy especially. She’s funny and I loved that she was more comfortable with the vampire thing than Solange. There wasn’t a character in this book that I didn’t like. My only complaint about this book was that I wanted it to be a little bit meatier. It’ll be interesting to see how the larger arc develops and I look forward to book three especially, because it’s both a Private School Paranormal and Quinn’s story.

Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing the second book in the Drake Chronicles. Stay tuned!

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