Hearts at Stake: Fluffy young adult paranormal romance

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHearts at Stake by Alyxandra HarveyHearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Solange Drake is about to turn sixteen and she just wants to be a normal teenager. That’s hard enough when she’s got seven big brothers hovering over her, but what really sucks is that she knows she’s going to die on her birthday. If she’s strong enough to survive the Bloodchange, she’ll return as a powerful vampire — the only female vampire born (not made) in centuries and, according to an ancient prophecy, she’ll be the rightful vampire queen. She doesn’t really want to be queen, but there are plenty of people who are hoping she’ll oust Lady Natasha, the evil pretender.

Solange has lots of support — her seven gorgeous brothers, her powerful parents, several bodyguards, and her best friend Lucy who may not have any supernatural stuff going on, but who’s got enough guts and spunk to hold her own. Solange has enemies, too, of course. Not just Lady Natasha and her evil minions, but also vampire hunter Kieran Black who’s out to prove himself worthy of his calling by bringing down the infamous Solange Drake.

Hearts at Stake, the first novel in Alyxandra Harvey’s DRAKE CHRONICLES, is a really fluffy young adult paranormal romance. This isn’t usually my thing (okay, it’s never my thing), but the DRAKE CHRONICLES books were on sale, so I’m giving them a try. Hearts at Stake is fun, silly, light, and requires no mental effort. fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe plot is mostly predictable and the writing is far from elegant (example: “I scowled at the open bag, panting and scowling.”). The two heroines, Solange and Lucy, are likeable girls and will appeal to most teenagers. As is often the case in teenage romance novels, Solange does occasionally stupid things that seem to serve the plot more than her own survival.

All the boys are nearly indistinguishable from each other and they display those annoying masculine behaviors that, for some reason, teenage girls seem to find irresistible: jaw and fist clenching, growling, wrist grabbing, backing girls up against the walls, etc. Girls, you may think it’s adorable when teenage boys display these kinds of immature mating behaviors — perhaps you think it’s some kind of indication of how much they want you — but I guarantee that when they’ve grown into adult men who can’t control their emotions, you will not find jaw clenching and wrist grabbing cute anymore.

Despite my complaints, I’ll admit that Hearts at Stake kept me entertained for a few mindless hours and I’m certain that many teenage girls (the target demographic) will like it, which is why I’m giving it a generous three stars. If it’s light shallow fun you’re looking for, this will hit the spot. If you need deep characters, meaningful insights, unique plot or elegant prose, look elsewhere.

I listened to the audio version which has two narrators: Elieen Stevens, who narrates the chapters from Lucy’s perspective, and Michal Friedman who narrates Solange’s chapters. I thought Eileen Stevens was wonderful, but I didn’t like Michal Friedman as well. Her voice is a little childish and I never quite believed she was Solange which was one of the things that prevented me from losing myself in the story. I didn’t think either narrator did a good job with the male voices.

The Drake Chronicles — (2009-2013) Young adult. Publisher: On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black — agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family. Luckily she has her own secret weapon — her human best friend Lucy — who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life — Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black — in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart. Even fans of the genre who’ve seen it all will find a fresh read with kick-butt characters and family dynamics that ring true for all brothers and sisters — vampire or otherwise.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. Is the sidekick’s name “Lucy” a nod to Bram Stoker?

    • No, I don’t think so. She’s nothing like that Lucy.

      In this story, Lucy’s parents are hippies and her real name is Lucky but she doesn’t like it so she refers to herself as Lucy.

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