Synopsis: Dying of a rare blood disease, Eleanor Franklin needs laudanum to ease the pain, often driven to steal in order to buy more. But when she steals a ruby she has no idea that the gem will tip her into the midst of a deadly species war.
Saved by Jefferson Park, she discovers a man with an even darker past than her own: he is one of the last true Vampires fighting to stop the eradication of his kind.
But the Sanguine aren’t the only problem as Eleanor finds herself falling in love with Jefferson. It is a relationship she cannot commit to, as she knows her time is limited, and she will not risk breaking his heart.
Miss Anna Key says: The backstory of Eleanor’s Heart is an ancient conflict between two powerful races, Vampires and Sanguisuges. Even though sharing similar origins they became mortal enemies: Vampires embracing their humanity and merging into the society and Sanguisuge becoming creatures of the night, creating the mythos of a blood-sucking vampire lurking in the shadows. In the midst of that conflict comes Eleanor Franklin. While robbing a house of her employer she stumbles upon a priceless ruby. The stone is nothing less but the centre piece stolen from the altar of goddess Ishra, a mother to the Vampire race. On her way out she is assaulted by one of the demons. Luckily she’s immediately rescued from her dire misfortune by Jefferson Park, an aristocrat and a member of the Vampire race. Without revealing too much of the plot, Eleanor and Jefferson embark on a long journey to Stonehenge to deposit the stone back on the altar of Ishra and bring balance to the world. The whole endeavour is filled with sword fighting, battling monsters, unravelling ancient legends, and, of course, a growing attachment between the two characters all in a prim and proper world of 19th century England.
The language, which Misa Buckley so beautifully uses in her novella, is very formal and reserved. Its “proper” tone also dictates how the characters interact with each other, how the man and woman are portrayed in the story. Eleanor is suffering from a rare blood disease causing her agonising pain. In order to sustain her job she gets addicted to laudanum to alleviate the pain yet in the same time sacrificing her independence to its slightly hallucinogenic properties. When Jefferson offers her accommodation and playing a role in a dangerous adventure she easily allows him to take the lead. Even though we see signs of stubborness and defiance here and there, the overall weak constitution prevents her from becoming this charismatic go-getter. Jefferson is not your typical vampire either. He’s portrayed as a young aristocrat of a similar height to Eleanor. He reminds me of Louis from “Interview with a Vampire” with his lean physique and slightly brooding demeanour. Such a portrayal of both characters and the reserved tone of the narrative make the slow development of feeling and reserved tone more believable and incredibly sweet. The underlying passion in undeniable and the anticipation only adds to the tension in the story.
What I really enjoyed about “Eleanor’s Heart” was the storyline: an ancient conflict between Vampires and Sanguisuges sounds like a perfect allegory for the current political situation around the world with extermination of other races for the sake of power and dominance. What I perhaps wish for is for the book to a bit longer. There is a lot going on and, I believe, that it could be easily expanded into a full-length novel. It definitely deserves it.
The book is marketed as a Paranormal Romance probably due to the supernatural elements to the story: vampires, demons, ancient deities, ether guns and dirigibles. However I would rather consider it as a Historical Romance with paranormal and steampunk elements thrown into the plot. The reason for it was that I was disappointed the first time I’ve read the novella only because I was expecting something that Paranormal Romance is most infamous for: steamy sex and a rough-around-the-edges alpha male. Instead I was offered an adventure novel with sword fighting, sex-under-wrappers and protagonists taken out of a Victorian England. And there is nothing wrong about that as long as you know what you are getting yourself into. For that reason after reading the book the first time around I’ve immediately decided to re-read just to give it another chance. After all, it happens too often that a certain book is mercilessly slacked just because of reviewer’s wayward expectations. And that would be grossly unfair to the Author.