Title: Ante Up
Series: Dreamspun Beyond
Author: Kim Fielding
Narrator: Andrew McFerrin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 5 hours and 52 minutes
At a Glance: True to form, Fielding takes a common trope and uses it to give the characters a unique feel. Much of the charm and color in the story comes from Peter, who is voiced wonderfully by McFerrin.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: Love is a high-stakes game.
A century and a half ago, Ante Novak died on a Croatian battlefield – and rose three days later as a vampire. Now he haunts Las Vegas, stealing blood and money from drunken gamblers and staying on the fringe of the powerful vampire organization known as the Shadows. His existence feels empty and meaningless until he meets beautiful Peter Gehrardi, who can influence others with his thoughts.
An attraction flares instantly, bringing a semblance of life to Ante’s dead heart. But the Shadows want Peter too, and they’re willing to kill to get him. As Ante and Peter flee, they learn more about themselves and each other, and they discover that the world is a stranger place than either of them imagined. With enemies at their heels and old mistakes coming back to exact a price, how can Ante and Peter find sanctuary?
Review: In this fun Dreamspun Beyond title, Ante (pronounced like Dante) Novak is a 200+ year-old vampire surviving day to day by charming tourists into bed and relieving them of a pint of blood and a bit of money. Unwilling to join the Shadows, a powerful, far-reaching vampire organization, Ante exists on the fringes of society, claiming to be content with his isolated, pseudo-nomadic lifestyle until another hunter, Peter Gehrardi, catches his eye. Ante is intrigued by the well-dressed young man, particularly after watching him use his charm to get winnings from tourists and avoid casino security.
After a scorching sexual encounter, Ante discovers that there is more to Peter than meets the eye, and that the Shadows intend to “recruit” Peter, willing or not. After living so long with no purpose, Ante is surprised by his need to protect Peter, and as they try to escape the Shadows, Ante begins to believe that he is more than a monster and that he does not have to spend eternity paying for his mistakes. Moreover, he and Peter learn that there is a lot more to life and the world than just hustling and surviving, and that it’s the choices they make, not their identities, that shape them.
True to form, Fielding takes a common trope and uses it to give the characters a unique feel. Although Ante considers himself a soulless monster, there’s no brooding intensity or angst. He has regrets and lives his life in Vegas as a form of penance, but he’s definitely no tortured soul. Additionally, Ante and Peter come across many kinds of supernatural beings with their own quirky spins and idiosyncrasies that add color to the story. It’s probably not a coincidence that the stereotypical vamps in the Shadows are the bad guys.
Much of the charm and color in the story comes from Peter, who is voiced wonderfully by McFerrin. While preying on people to survive like Ante, Peter too, at heart, is a good guy, and his insatiable curiosity (and hunger), cheekiness and liveliness is expressed delightfully by McFerrin. The way in which McFerrin communicates, the calm, seriousness of Ante’s voice and personality and Peter’s irrepressible spirit, even while on the run, illustrates how they balance each other and makes the two men seem perfect for one another. McFerrin also does a good job navigating between conveying the different aspects of the story, such as going from seriousness and action into unexpected lighthearted sass from Peter, or quiet introspection. In Ante Up, Andrew McFerrin captures Kim Fielding’s trademark unique take on the paranormal and intriguing MCs and delivers an entertaining listen.
You can buy Ante Up here:
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