Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
Liv Rancourt’s agenda in “Soulmates” is not what it appears to be at first. She puts us in an America where supernatural creatures are just part of the complex texture of life (or, as it happens, death). Specifically, we meet 175-year-old vampire Trajan Gall, Los Angeles club owner and landlord. Trajan is summarily requested by his maker (a much older and richer denizen of the Hollywood Hills) to act as bodyguard (i.e. babysitter) to the college-age son of the single most powerful werewolf in the country during his spring break.
David Collins, the National Alpha’s son, turns out to be fierce and fey and…short. Sporting high-heel boots and indiscreet makeup, David arrives in Los Angeles ready to party and not at all amused at the idea of having Trajan’s Italian hit-man aesthetic cramp his style.
Then, almost immediately, someone tries to kill David and manages to seriously wound Trajan—almost as if it were a set-up.
Forced into proximity, David begins to see past Trajan’s severe bodyguard surface to the emotionally scarred vampire inside. Trajan is grieving the death two years previously of his lover, Connor MacPherson. In fact, as the author makes a careful point of letting us know, it is David’s bad-boy personality—itself a mask for his insecurity, aggravated by the neglect of his parents—that reignites Trajan’s desire to live.
And then things get really strange. During yet another attempt on David’s life, Trajan spots what looks to be Connor himself. Using the help of his other supernatural friends—an Amazon named Sheena, and a troll named Stone—Trajan tries to get David to someplace safe, all the while pondering what the appearance of the man-who-might-
What seems on the surface to be just a fast-paced adventure, as David and Trajan leap from danger to danger, gradually emerges as a thoughtful exploration of a romantic triad; of a possibility born of a situation fraught with loss and betrayal. The complicated subcultures of the supernatural world have created three damaged men, each suffering a gaping emotional wound. Trajan, confronted with new feelings for the young wolf he’s trying to protect, and then with memories of the man he’d loved so well, begins to see a way forward—assuming that they all don’t die in the attempt.
The different parts of the book are narrated from different characters’ perspectives, so we have the pleasure of getting to know each of the principal players from the inside out. The paranormal-noir tone of the novel is, ultimately, less important than how we feel about the characters. The surprise there is that, gradually, we begin to care about each of them rather a lot. As expected in this genre, there is a lot of physical intimacy, but Rancourt manages to ensure that it is integral to the emotional evolution of the men involved, and not just a sop to the demands of the market.
I didn’t get any hint that this book might be the first of something more, but in the end I found myself hoping, rather teary-eyed, that I’d meet these guys again.