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Series: Crimson, Book 1
Hero/Villain: Lord Simon Baldevar
Heroine: Meghann Katherine Agnes O’Neill
Date of Publication: November 1, 2001
Started On: March 16, 2011
Finished On: March 17, 2011
I have forgotten exactly how this landed in my TBR pile though I am grateful it did because Crimson Kiss turned out to be a horrifyingly fascinating tale that held me enthralled from beginning till end. I had a hard time classifying this book because Crimson Kiss though it is a tale of lust and an undeniable love between two vampires, it is also a tale that reeks with power play and dominance that prevents it from being simply classified as a romance. Trisha Baker shows us the dark side of vampire heroes that readers all over the world have come to love from series such as the Night Huntress by Jeaniene Frost and the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. Lord Simon Baldevar is anything but a hero, whose character nevertheless held my attention hoping to catch even a minute glimpse of any redeemable feature in him when there existed none deep inside of him.
This macabre tale begins on the eve of April 12, 1944 when 18 year old Meghann Katherine O’Neill, engaged to be married to war hero Johnny Devlin finds herself meeting the enigmatic, Lord Simon Baldevar at a party hosted by the mother of an uber rich friend. Meghann with her vivacious red hair and sparkling emerald green eyes captures the attention of the tall, broad shouldered and handsome Simon with his compelling amber eyes because of her zest for life which shines through her. Born and raised Catholic, Meghann is a virgin and naive as they come about the games and rules of seduction between men and women. Simon’s sophisticated nature and his obvious charm brings the walls of defense crumbling down, a pathetic defense at best in front of a man who has been having his way with women for the past 400 years.
Meghann’s transformation into a vampire from a mortal is a choice that is wrenched out of her by Simon who for the first time finds himself falling in love and needing someone to claim as his own. Binding Meghann to his side by the thousands of ways in which he can make her feel pleasure, Simon starts out to possess and own Meghann heart, body and soul, a price that Meghann is too young to actually comprehend.
13 years pass by with Meghann as the consort of the depraved Simon Baldevar, who demands her complete and utter submission to him as her Master. Hope and salvation comes in the form of Charles Tarleton who makes Meghann understand that life as an immortal can be much more than embroiling in the vile acts that Simon has taught her. Unable to bear any longer the mere state of existing with no will of her own, Meghann defies Simon for the first time, bringing upon her his wrath and punishments much more cruel than anything she has suffered at his hands till now. The final straw comes when Simon moves onto kill a young boy which propels Meghann to find and hone in on her reserves of strength and make use of her rusty gifts and powers as a vampire. Meghann escapes after driving a stake through his heart, leaving him to be finished off by the rising sun.
From December 1957 till March 1998, Meghann finds shelter, peace and solace in the presence of her mentor and priest turned vampire Alcuin, Master of her friend Charles Tarleton. It is Alcuin who teaches Meghann everything she comes to value in her life as a vampire, and allows her to become what she has always wanted to be, a psychologist who specializes in treating victims of abusive relationships, particularly women and children. It is from Alcuin that she begins to piece together just how corrupt, perverted and debased a mortal Simon was before he embraced his life as a vampire. Meghann learns of Simon’s history that spans from the 18th century, the era of Queen Elizabeth I and how she resembles Simon’s second wife Isabelle whom he subjected to mental and physical abuse of every nature after killing his brother and her husband Roger to come to attain what Simon has deemed rightfully his. An alchemist through and through, Simon has cared for none till his fascination with Meghann takes ahold of him.
Meghann’s peaceful existence with her mortal live in lover Jimmy Delacroix comes crashing down the night she learns that Simon survived her attack which leaves behind a sense of foreboding that looms closer by the minute. Before the story is through, Meghann once again finds herself back in Simon’s arms, craving the pleasure that he only can give her because even though she sees the darkness that resides deep within her and has been witness to what Simon is capable of, she still loves him with all her heart, body and soul. But that doesn’t stop her from being true to herself, to struggle to win against the dark side of her nature that comes alive with a mere stroke from Simon who in the end is as much a slave to needing Meghann as she is to her Master.
I don’t think I can adequately describe each and every sensation that coursed through me as I got lost in this tale that had the power to super glue me to the edge of my seat all throughout. Simon’s character was the most difficult as he supposedly should be with his sadistic and yet at times an oddly compelling nature when he is with Meghann. But that didn’t distract me from all the vile acts that he performs earning him the role of one of the most vicious villains that I have come across. There are no excuses, none at all for what Simon is and was in the past, no tortured history that even remotely makes up for what he is. But at the same time I couldn’t help but wait on tenterhooks, begging for even a glimpse of the true nature of his feelings towards Meghann, something which does come to light before this tale is through.
Meghann is a complex and multi-faceted character as well who invoked a lot of mixed feelings in me. From the beginning Meghann is portrayed as a woman who fights for what she believes in, who wants to help others in need with her dream career as a psychologist. However, Simon and his forceful nature together with Meghann’s complex reactions to him makes her give up her dreams and force herself into submission for 13 years of her life until she reaches the end of her rope. The woman she transforms herself into afterwards amazed me even though she is still haunted by what she has done in the past under Simon’s mastership. And even then, Meghann is no match for the ever powerful Simon she can’t help but love; a love many readers might not understand. But it is the strength that she draws from the few of the remaining ones that she loves that proves to be the ultimate weapon that defeats Simon and all his evil powers – for now.
The story ends begging for continuation which comes in the form of the 2nd book in this trilogy Crimson Night which I am going to devour next. I find myself in double anticipation because the second book focuses more on Simon’s point of view, something which was missing from the 1st book. I have yet to find book 3 which concludes this series at a reasonable price, but I am guessing even the exorbitant prices wouldn’t stop me in my quest to find out how this tale ends.
I recommend this trilogy for fans of horror and those who love vampire stories – not the sappy type because this certainly doesn’t deliver on that front.
I finish off the review with a scene that is etched onto my mind from the book, the moment when Meghann surrenders her mind, body and soul to a man who vows to possess everything that she is for himself and leave nothing behind.
“”You’re beautiful,” he whispered. He ran his hands lightly across her body, fingertips barely touching her. Maggie moaned, aching with desire. Pauline had already been forgotten.
“Tell me who I am,” he ordered while thrusting into her.
“My master.” She didn’t feel any regret or embarrassment for calling him “my master.” I want to belong to him, she thought while she writhed beneath him.
“And you’ll be mine forever?”
“Forever.”Simon sank his teeth deep within the wounds on her neck again. Maggie moaned, digging her nails into his back. The rapture she now felt made her prior ecstasy pale in comparison. She felt wave after wave of intense, unbearable pleasure as he drained the blood from her. Maggie felt him growing harder within her as he drank her blood. It seemed to go on forever, making love while he drank her blood. She didn’t want it to ever stop.