I was dubious when I initially heard about Blood on the Ice by Katriena Knights. Sure, it had the attraction of having some gay hockey players in it, but one of the key aspects to the story was that the players were vampires. That worried me. I love a good vampire story, I enjoy the Blood Ties series form Tanya Huff and various Anne Rice novels. But vampires done poorly just frustrates me.
Blood on the Ice is a great book. It’s not a typical gay romance by any means. It’s got some amazing hockey sequences. As a vampire novel it met all my needs because these vampires are bound by the usual rules (they don’t, for example, sparkle in the sunlight). It was a book I had a hard time putting down because I needed to know what was going to happen. Overall, it’s one of the best books I’ve reviewed for PuckBuddys.
It all starts innocently enough. Travis Payne, a Chicago Blackhawks forward, is at a bar with his teammates celebrating the win that got them into the Stanley Cup finals. Unfortunately it’s the last regular night of Travis’ life. As he’s leaving the bar, he tries to help a woman being attacked and, while he breaks up the attack, he ends up turned by a vampire.
In this reality, vampires are “out” in society and have been for a few decades. Travis doesn’t die, but ends up in a six-month program to transition him into being a socially acceptable vampire. This includes him leaving the Blackhawks and going into the LVH’s Chicago Cobras if he plans to keep playing hockey.
Travis’ world is shattered. In the transition program he has virtually no contact with the outside world, so he has no idea what happens with the Cup finals. The visitors he gets are few, mostly his agent and reps from the LVH. His family disowns him. But he eventually finds a friend in Marcus Antonius, captain of the Cobras and a vampire since gladiator times. Actually he feels more than just friendship for Marc, he feels an attraction that he’s usually reserved for women.
Katriena excellently maneuvers her way through all the various plot lines perfectly. She deals with Travis’ transition into vampire without bogging the reader down in too much exposition, while also making sure we know everything we need to. His transition runs from funny to sad to hot and back again many times in the book.
She also establishes the LVH in great detail, again without slowing things down. It’s modeled after the original six, but the play is much more brutal and bloody because the players are already dead. To help make sure they don’t “die” again, no one plays in the LVH with a stick that has wood in it. Among my favorite scenes in the book is the game between Chicago and the Detroit Damnation, especially Travis’ third period goal.
The relationship built between Travis and Marc is great. As I mentioned this isn’t a typical romance. While Marc falls for Travis the first time he see his new teammate, he doesn’t want to impose himself on the new vampire. Watching these two grow from mentor/mentee to friends and teammates and on to a more romantic relationship made for good reading—and some hot reading occasionally, too. Is it a monogamous love that lasts forever (truly forever in their case)? Probably not in any traditional sense but they do make a pretty cool couple.
If you’ve been at all into the books I’ve reviewed on PuckBuddys, definitely take the plunge on this one for something fun, cool and different.
Interview with Katriena Knights