Michael is a waif in eyeliner who’s determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. Wild Bill’s got the hots for Michael and will stop at nothing to go home with him. Forget about moonlit castles and windswept moors. These bad boys haunt all-night diners and cheap motels, cut-rate department stores and long, lonely stretches of the interstate. Ride along with Wild Bill and Michael as the twists and turns of Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary unfold in America’s heartland.
Originally these were a series of short stories, with some novellas thrown in along the way. This is the first 5 main stories told back to back as one “story”. Each chapter was originally it’s own story and was told by one or the other MC. As a result each chapter has a distinct feel as the POV shifts. (Luckily, in audio format, the master narrator, Gomez Pugh, has given us two entirely different voices so that POV shift is patently obvious and allows the reader/listener to become easily immersed in the new mind set.)
First, I want to comment on the gorgeous covers – I believe Jordan does all her own art and WHAT A TALENT! The dark, mysterious, highly sexual images of these covers really set the scene.
Next, I want to comment on the vast difference between Psycop and this series. Yes, both are dark and deal with sort of anti-heroes, but both Vic and Jacob are obviously good guys. They fight on the right side of the law. They might be depressed at times or be willing to bend the law, but they are always on the side of “good”. Now, these two, Michael and Wild Bill, are not necessarily “bad”. But their version of “good” isn’t as readily apparent to an outsider. Especially Wild Bill. I highly recommend, to those of you who find this as fascinating as I did, that you look at the post scripts from the author. Jordan has added her own thoughts about these men and it really helps to understand them more. (Plus it’s super interesting!)
This series starts with Michael seeking revenge for the death of his friend., Scary Mary who he KNOWS was killed by a vampire. No, the world doesn’t know about Vampires, but Mary did and Michael believed her. Specifically, he’s hunting a vampire who kills indiscriminately. While waiting for his “prey” he meets Wild Bill, but doesn’t realize Bill, too, is a vamp.
The three of them end up in a clench and the night does not end how anyone thought it would, but that isn’t the end of this story, only the beginning.
Amazing. Jordan Castillo Price writes amazing characters. Dark. Brooding. Broken. Fascinating. What I love about this series/book (and her work in general) is how much she portrays with a minimum of words. Each phrase, word, thought adds to the story and in such an economically but erotically beautiful way.
No doubt about it, the eroticism of this series is off the charts, but not eclipsed by the character development and the emotional attachments that develop.
I was surprised when I read on GoodReads that originally JCP had intended Payback to be a short story one-off with no intent for more. It’s popularity convinced her to re-visit it and make it into a series. When she went back to look at the series, she decided she had to do at least some of it from Bill’s perspective. As she states it, “I’m not sure if I sensed that Michael wasn’t really a leading man, or if I just wanted to see if being in Wild Bill’s head was as do-able as having Michael hear him talk…In the end, though, I decided that whether it was cheating or not to dip into Bill’s perspective, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could write like he thought.”
Which brings us to book/Chapter two in the series Vertigo, where we see Bill’s side of the story, from where Payback leaves off.
Now we see Wild Bill’s perspective. He acknowledges that he can’t get Michael off his mind and is excited when he finally runs into him again. But Michael has been planning this meeting and he isn’t about to let Bill get away this time, not without hearing him out.
Wowza. This was a very sexy, creepy, book/chapter two of the series. There are some questionable acts that somehow seem to just work for these two dark figures. You can tell, right from the start, that this relationship is not ever, ever going to be smooth sailing, but it will be hot as hell.
As JCP said in her review about this book on GoodReads: “I think that dynamic carried through the rest of the series beautifully, that they’re both so needy for each other, and both so full of broken places inside that no one can really heal, that there’s no way it’s going to end up with them picking out curtains. “ And that is really an understatement.
Later on in the series, we see more about Michael and his attachment to Vampires in general and also, I think, about the cutting – how both are symbolic for something more than just simple fascination or a means to an end. This is where those seeds get laid.
This is from Michael’s perspective. He’s on the hunt again and in a lot of trouble. Fortunately Bill took the hint and finds him, in the “nick of time”. He’s also bought Michael a van, and thus starts their relationship with Big Red.
Bill is now, more of less committed, at least in the short term, to seeing where things go with Michael. Michael is both ecstatic and trepidatious about getting involved with a vampire, and specifically Wild Bill.
Again, JCP blows us away with another super-erotic scene between our two “heroes” and their budding relationship is both needy and fulfilling in the way that only two such amazingly flawed characters can possibly share.
I loved the examples of his enchantment for Michael that Bill lets slip through. He lets Michael have his “Harlequin” fantasies, and tolerates his jealousy over getting blood from others, and “bites” Michael on the neck, just to make him happy. Michael, in turn, is both determined to persevere and virginally seductive (the shaved bits showcase this so metaphorically) and ever questioning of Bill’s experiences.
Ever exploring, Michael uses his newly acquired (and pink!) smart-phone-type device to continue his research into vampirism and discovers Dr. Jim, a vamp who is researching it from a DNA perspective. Bill has been “protecting” Michael from turning by using condoms, but Michael is looking more and more frail and less and less human. Bill wants answers, too.
Well, they get them, and it’s not what you would think. In a way Michael is devastated by the news, but also relieved. As is Bill. This new development opens doors for the couple and closes others.
This is definitely a turning point in their relationship and I found it fascinating how this played out. On the one hand, both are both sort of resigned to the importance the other now plays in their lives. They both clearly – dare I say it – LOVE one another, but neither is really completely happy about it. There is still too much uncertainty about the future for it to feel entirely good, but there is still an element of extreme hopefulness in their lovemaking that lets us think it may all just work out.
JCP wrote a review on GoodReads about this book (in 2011) and I thought this tidbit was too hysterical to leave out:
“Written three years ago and the PDA is already out of date, ha ha! I’m sure [Dr.Jim] has a nice smartphone now, maybe an Android, because he’d think an iPhone was too frivolous.”
Michael goes home but finds out that is not his place anymore. He and Bill find a commune where they hope they fit in, but no such luck.
From a story perspective, both Michael and Bill’s back-story gets filled in a bit. We learn more about the roots that shaped them and see those effects in how they interact today.
JCP excels at making her characters real. Really real. Michael isn’t all sweetness and devotion. He kills and he was the one who started the killing spree. Bill clearly loves Michael, but he has his own selfish agenda and it sometimes enables Michael in a way that isn’t the healthiest. In JCP’s own words on GoodReads: “Wild Bill and Michael form a sort of feedback loop, where Michael’s depression feeds Bill’s lust, and then Bill’s remorse lets the flames burn down a bit, until their need for connection draws them into a new conflagration, and everything begins again.”
But they are still clearly moving forward in the relationship and it has its own elements of sweetness and tenderness that satisfy the romantic in me.
The audiobook ends here L But… if you’re hooked you can still read the individual stories or the collection : https://www.amazon.com/Oblivion-Paranormal-Romance-Channeling-Morpheus-ebook/dp/B00VYV85RO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1477109414&sr=1-1&keywords=jordan+castillo+price+oblivion
There’s a lot more to their story and this is kind of a crappy place to leave them, but… they’ve got their own tentative HFN here but I think we’re left with far more questions than answers.
Well, you know by now, that I just ADORE Gomez Pugh, so it’s no surprise that I found his narration here to be DIVINE. God, he gives Wild Bill just the right voice, and Michael, too for that matter. (I did have to consciously tell me that it wasn’t Vic or Crash in the story, but the characters are so different that after listening for awhile it was easy to picture the new MCs over the old.) Of course he does a lovely job with all the myriad secondary characters as well, and I just can’t recommend this narrator enough.
I love this author, narrator and series. Be forewarned, it’s very dark and you’re gonna want to keep going once this narration end – I’m hoping the sequel is coming soon!
5 of 5 stars
Copy Purchased for Review