Blood Brothers - Michael Scheifelbein

Ladymol's Review

This is the third novel by Schiefelbein that weíve read, the previous two, Vampire Vow and Vampire Thrall being well up in some of our favourite novels. To a great extent, this novel visits the same territory only with human protagonists, although to be honest the ďheroĒ Juan Ramon is so focused upon his task of revenge, that he could be demonic. Set once more in a monastery, Schiefelbein displays his amazing knowledge of monastic rituals and life, bringing them to life and making the spirit of place the third character in the novel.

Forced to watch the horrific murder of his parents at aged seven, Juan Ramon devotes his life to revenge upon the murdereróhis fatherís partner in the firm. He eventually finds a conduit for his revenge through the manís son, following the young man into monastic life in order to seduce him and gain an entry into the powerful family. Told in alternate chapters by Juan and then his victim Bernardo, the story is a powerful study of male passion.

Juan is not an evil man by any means, but his life was horrendous after the murder and he is consumed by the need to see justice done. The author manages to maintain enormous sympathy for him even as he uses and abuses Bernardo. The gradual change in Juanís feelings for his victim is very subtlety done and convincing. Youíll find yourself rooting for Juan and Bernardo despite the terrible odds stacked against them.

Iím not wholly convinced by the central premise of the novel: that the murderer would let the seven year old boy live when he could easily identify him and would presumably grow up with this burning need for revenge, but if you suspend disbelief on his point the story is very convincing and a great read. Highly recommended.

Cerisaye's Review

Not exactly sure what to say about this one, other than if youíve read and enjoyed Schiefelbeinís vampire novels youíll probably get something from it.† The novel reminded me of Spanish films Iíve seen lately, where you appreciate the passion, beauty and intensity of the story and characters even though you donít understand the religious underpinning that explains motivations and actions.† As the book is set in Spain that might not be coincidental.

A potent mix of spirituality and lust, this is a very sexual book, teeming with desire and longing that proves men of God are human like the rest of us.† A faith that eroticises Christ and the saints yet requires its priests to forsake bodily pleasures while it shuts them away together in seminaries and monasteries, surely has a degree of ambivalence about sexuality?† If that idea offends you then donít bother with this book.† I didnít find it particularly erotic as I couldnít get emotionally involved with either main character who share POV alternately in the narration.† Though there were a few scenes I found wickedly hot.

It is a study in contrasts:† two men, one consumed by hate and the desire for vengeance, the other eaten away by desire, shame and guilt.† Both are young and hotblooded, full of lust, for other men.† Father Juan Carlos is driven to avenge his parents, murdered in front of him when he was just 7, by getting himself ordained so he can corrupt Brother Bernardo, the son of the man responsible, a business colleague of his dead father.

Juan Carlos idealises his parents and the family life heís never known, while Bernardo hates his powerful father, a brute who abuses his mother and has no time for a son drawn to the religious life.† Juan Carlos isnít ashamed heís gay or that he violates his vows.† Lust is God-given, he says, and Christ said nothing about not allowing men to love and be loved.††

The carefully planned scheme of revenge falters when the seducer unexpectedly falls for the innocent charms of Bernardoís hot body.† Can the monstrous Juan Carlos be saved by love?† Or will he go through with the plan to use Bernardo and mess with his mind enough so heíll kill his father, exacting a suitable punishment, the kind of retributive justice Juan Carlosí idea of God approves of?


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