Meisha Merlin, Feb 2002, 16.00, 515 pp.
Five years have passed since Kristian, self proclaimed ruler of the vampires, allowed rebellious Karl van Wultendorf to go his own foolish way. Now he demands his subordinate return to his castle overlooking the Rhine to genuflect to his creator. Karl knows he must adhere to the summons, but remains defiant refusing to worship Kristian, as he will visit on his time not his “master's” schedule.
Karl meets with Cambridge science Professor Neville to help him study vampirism in order to eradicate Kristian. However, a distraction in terms of Neville's reticent daughter Charlotte surfaces as he and Charlotte begin to fall in love but Kristian learns of her and her family. He has a new weapon better than banishment into the cold Crystal Ring dimension for he believes he can force his disobedient rebel to kneel or watch the Neville's drained of blood one at a time with Charlotte being the ultimate pawn caught in his web.
Fans of vampire tales with a strong romantic subplot will appreciate A TASTE OF BLOOD WINE. The story line provides an exciting, but different approach to much of the mythos and that requires some worthwhile but slower pacing explanations. Kristian is quite a superego maniac, but his use of the Nevilles as cannon fodder in a chess game of life and death makes for fabulous reading especially with the dilemma confronting the hero. Charlotte is a fine protagonist especially as a hostage in the great war between two powerful supernatural creatures whose rivalry makes the species seem genuine which leads to a fine time for fans.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner