Kairon and Jerrod, ex-lovers and current neighbours, are dismayed to learn that the superlatively named Councilman Alderman has returned to Sangre. They tried to destroy Councilman Alderman once before, and the old vampire is likely to be holding a (quite understandable) grudge.
Title: Fade and Fluff
Author: Alex Carreras
Review Rating: 3 stars
Across the street from the past
Fade and Fluff is a romantic M/M urban fantasy. It is book 3 in author Alex Carreras’s Sangre Brotherhood series, but there is enough exposition to read it as standalone. Male Lead 1, Male Lead 2, Villain, Sidekicks, and their various entanglements are all briskly laid out. We learn a few rules about this world’s vampires—killing no, peanut butter yes—and then we’re off.
The aristocratic Jerrod and the irrepressible Kairon have been on-again/off-again for centuries. Their second-chance story happened a long time ago, and it’s possible even they can’t say which chance this would be. Twentieth chance? One hundredth? Kairon has no fear of trying again, but Jerrod is determined that ninety-nine breakups is enough, thank you.
“It wasn’t always bad.”
“It wasn’t always good, or we would still be together.”
Point awarded to Jerrod.
But Fade and Fluff is as much a story about male territoriality as it is about love. The two factions can’t share the same space. When Councilman Alderman—the murderous vampire they tried to drive out of Sangre—reappears in town, Jerrod and Kairon are immediately aggressive. Their love story runs parallel to the story of their violated security, and it only resolves because the main plot resolves. Fade and Fluff isn’t making a case for love being the key to a man’s happiness, but is awarding love as a prize for whichever man survives to hold the ground.
Either tell me who started it or everyone is grounded
If there is one problem that might come from not reading the rest of the series, it has to do with the cycle of violence as it plays out in Fade and Fluff. Jerrod and Kairon are triggered before Councilman Alderman (yes, I am going to use his title every time he is mentioned) has done a thing or said a word. They confront him, he reacts, they respond, he escalates.
It’s possible, if you’re a troublemaker, to sympathize with the murderer; within the covers of this story, Councilman Alderman hasn’t harmed anybody.We can take our heroes’ word for it that Councilman Alderman is evil, but it isn’t until very late that author Alex Carreras shows it to us. This all makes Jerrod’s cries of “How did this happen? Again?” seem disingenuous, since he should know darn well how this happened again: he and Kairon started it.
The writing in Fade and Fluff is direct and confident. Editing problems are few and minor, although the way the phrase “fighting for any injustice that came their way” slipped through is unfortunate. Author Alex Carreras only disappoints in what he doesn’t show us: a fun-sounding matchmaking sub-plot is set up and dropped over two scenes; an important character beat at the end happens while our focus is elsewhere and aren’t able to watch it happen. But nothing gums up the little engine that makes the story run.
Fade and Fluff is an interesting story verging on being a compelling story, but it isn’t a fun story. The lightness of the will-they-won’t-they bickering is weighed down by the heroes’ dread of losing everything they have for all eternity. The love story is sincerely felt, but your enjoyment of it will depend on your personal daily fizz requirements.❤