Love Bites is a contemporary urban-fantasy novel first published by Jo Fletcher Books in July 2020. We follow divorcee Chloë as she starts to fall for a girl who has some unusual habits. She won’t go out during daylight, never seems to eat, and her teeth do seem awfully sharp. The sequel, Bleeding Hearts, was published in July 2021.
If you know me, then you’ll know that I love vampire books. I also have a lot of experience thinking and writing academically about vampires. While reading this book it did become clear that I was not the audience for this book, and that’s okay. There wasn’t enough vampire content for me. I’m a greedy reader. I just wanted more. And that went for the romance, too. It felt very clean. I don’t mean this in the sense that it just wasn’t smutty enough for me (though I have been known to enjoy some smutty romance), but also that it lacked drama. Two girls meet. They like each other. The author does a good job exploring the development of their relationship on a quiet psychological level, but I need more. I wanted more interaction with the people around them. I wanted some angst, or extra fluff, or more smut. I just wanted something. Reading this book was like waking up in the morning and smelling someone making a bacon sandwich. It smells delicious. It makes you hungry. But someone else eats that sandwich. And guess what? There’s no more bacon left.
In the background of this new relationship between Chloë and Angela are their previous relationships. This is great in the way that it helps to flesh out the girls and dispel the concept that a new relationship makes the past disappear. There are also implications of some past domestic abuse which was interesting to read. The author did a good job at showing how the character finds herself in this extremely controlling relationship almost without realising it. It was just a shame that we didn’t get to see more of this element, because towards the conclusion of the story it felt a little like it was easily resolved, something which I’m sure is not true for the majority of people in similar situations. Although there’s no avoiding this element of the story I think it’s important to reiterate the fact that the focus of the story is on the budding, healthy, romance between the two girls.
The book is told from multiple perspectives. For the most part, these perspectives belong to Angela and Chloë. Despite this, I still feel as though the reader is kept at a distance, particularly with Chloë, who suffers from depression and intrusive thoughts. The intrusive thoughts were well illustrated particularly at the beginning, and really helps you to understand the implications of these on a person who is suffering. She was a very introverted, introspective character that struggled to stand out against the much more vibrant side character. Ari and Aunt Esther were easily my favourites and really added life to any scene they were in. Ari has a fascinating plot which I really wanted more of his character, and the mythology surrounding him. Similarly Aunt Esther had such a rich backstory which we dipped our toes into during some of her perspective chapters, but it was
Ultimately if you’re in the market for a vampire book, then I’m not sure that Love Bites will really scratch that itch, as the vampire content is a little thin in favour of the contemporary elements. However, if you’re a contemporary reader looking to dip your toe into some fantasy then this might be for you. It balances the contemporary love story elements with the fantasy world of vampires, witches, and werewolves really well. This, along with the writing style, makes for a very readable book. There definitely is an audience for this book, I don’t think that it is me, but it might be you.
Love Bites is available to purchase now from all the usual places, including Bookshop.org (affiliate link). Alternatively, don’t forget to check your local library, which is where I got my own copy from.
Coming soon… A little reading update