Title: Belle Morte
Author: Bella Higgin
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Wattpad Books
There’s only one way out
Belle Morte. One of five houses where vampires reside as celebrities and humans are paid to be their living donors. While others came here seeking fortune, I came in search of my sister who walked into Belle Morte five months ago . . . and never walked back out.
Now that I’m here, the secrets about this world have proven to be much bigger than I ever anticipated. And lurking around every corner are shocking insinuations of what happened to my sister.
There’s only one person who might have the answers I need, and the undeniable pull I feel toward him is terrifying: Edmond Dantès―a vampire, and my mortal enemy.
The harder I try to resist him, the further I fall under his spell. And in one instant my life is irrevocably changed. My past becomes prologue and my fate becomes sealed behind these doors.
Belle Morte has spoken. And it may never let me go.
Belle Morte is a young adult vampire romance with thrills and espionage thrown into the mix. Renie Mayfield is an eighteen-year-old girl living in a world where vampires are not only known about, but are basically celebrities. Renie’s sister was selected to become a blood donor and moved into one of the UK vampire mansions months ago, and Renie hasn’t heard from her in months. Desperate to find her sister, Renie applies to become a donor and go undercover at Belle Morte.
This book is told from two points of view. Renie’s POV is first person and dominates the narrative, but we also occasionally get the third=person point of view of Edmond, one of Belle Morte’s handsome vampires. While I enjoyed knowing what Edmond is thinking, and we find out right away that he’s keeping secrets, I would have preferred to have had only Renie’s POV, as that would have increased the suspense. Knowing that Edmond–and the other vampires–aren’t terrible monsters right away muted some of the story’s suspense.
The romance between Renie and Edmond is sweet and slow-burn, and I could definitely see a heavy influence from Twilight in the nature of the story. That said, the author is a fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I was delighted to spot some references to the horror classic. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but Renie Mayfield sure sounds a lot like Renfield! (Why else would you shorten “Irene” to “Renie”?) Fortunately, Renie is completely different from Renfield in personality and she isn’t doomed the same fate as that Stoker character. (Otherwise this wouldn’t be a romance!)
I loved the world-building in this book. While the majority of the story is set inside Belle Morte, we get a taste of what the world is like outside of it. Their world is like ours, but different, as everyone knows that vampires exist. They either love them, fear them, or despise them. Little bits of world building, such as the existence of “Vladdicts”–people who are obsessed with vampires–adds a flare of creativity and ingenuity to the book.
This book has a lot of talking, particularly in the beginning, but the storyline picks up pace towards the end of the book. While most of the plot points are quite predictable, you read these types of stories for the suspense and the forbidden love, and on these fronts, Higgins definitely delivers.
While this hasn’t been touted as being the start of a series, I got strong series vibes when reading this book–particularly with the way it ends. It’s not quite a cliffhanger, but there is a lot left unsaid, and this could easily be sequels.
*Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for the ebook to review*
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