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BOOK REVIEW The Vampire's Protege
by Liz Baudler

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By Damian Serbu. $13.99; Ninestar Press; 296 pages

Charon is young, attractive, gay ... and calloused to the point of narcissism.

Men are his prey, but Charon's brash personality leads him to become prey himself one night when singled out by a vampire in a Wilton Manors gay bar. Styx's plan: to enter Charon in a competition to become the next vampire rogue. Not just a turn of phrase: Styx operates outside the bylines of the ancient Vampire Council and wants to see if he can create a vampire to do the same. And, with Charon, he succeeds wildly.

Now Charon is free to live as he wishes, with a fabulous, ageless body and unlimited wealth, and no repercussions for any amoral actions. Yet despite this release, Charon does things like rescue young gay men from closeted or unfulfilling lives and take them to live in his mountain lair in Colorado, and brutally murders anti-gay pastors. He uses his resources to rejigger his own sense of right and wrong. ( Of course he also brutally murders plenty of other people for fun. ) Vampire's Protege is partly sexy gay fantasy romp and partly intriguing mystery as Charon finds himself shadowed by an attractive vampirical type . Will Charon be able to avoid the Vampire Council forever?

Damian Serbu's writing is not showy but definitely above average, letting things happen clearly and crisply. Though Serbu's work is a genre novel, Charon succeeds in being a complicated character, who struggles with loneliness and complicated decisions. He's also quite likable, as are his cast of sexy servants. It's a pity summer is over: The Vampire's Protege is a fun beach read or sick day indulgence, and you will want to read more of this story as it continues.

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