Title: Other Side of Night: Bastian and Riley
Author: S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet
Cover Artist: Nathie Block
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 47k words/190 pages
Vampires walk among us. For centuries, they have adapted, learning to pass undetected in our world. They no longer fear the day, only the sting of direct sunlight. They are students, bankers, lawyers, and even actors. But when the sun goes down, they are all united by their eternal thirst. We do not see them from our safe and comfortable side of the night. But sometimes, one of us is drawn away from the light and we cross into their world. Into the other side of night.
Sebastian Rossi's second year at the University of Tennessee began much differently than his first. He rushes to and from his classes, covered head to toe in thick clothing. Parties are a thing of the past, and dating hasn't been high on his list of priorities. No, high on his needs is blood. Lots of it. Adjusting to the changes no one even told him would happen following one great night of partying and sex has been hell for Bastian, but he's managing.
Riley Lynch's dream is to be a veterinarian. He works hard to pay his tuition, reads in every spare moment, and tries to forget the nightmare of his sophomore year. Summer has washed away all the bad, leaving him refreshed and eager for his junior year at UT. Life is finally looking up for him, and he has no intention of sliding back down into the depression that had consumed him during his last relationship.
A chance meeting brings their two worlds into alignment and passion sparks between them. When Riley learns of the changes Bastian is going through, he has a choice to make: walk away or embrace the night.
Isn’t college tough enough without a growing craving for blood and an aversion to the sun that makes getting to midday classes difficult? Bastian’s trying to keep his grades up and his appetite down, but since he hasn’t really got a clue what’s happened to him, trying to grow a relationship is twice as hard.
Riley has his own difficulties—he fled his last university and the abusive boyfriend, bringing with him his work ethic and a raft of trust issues. Getting involved with a man who has a lot of secrets is a set-up for problems.
The Other Side of Night is a lighter-hearted take on vampires than most—neither man believes in them at first, and only time, experience, and a harsh encounter make believers out of them. Bastian doesn’t seem to have many of the strengths normally associated with vampires, or he hasn’t learned to use them. No super speed or strength, no materializing under doors as smoke, or any of the goodies, really, just a really intense desire to take a nip out of Riley in bed. No wonder he’s having such a hard time adjusting. It would help if an older vampire had left a manual or at least some advice.
Riley’s healing from an abusive situation, so he and Bastian take it slow, really slow, growing into trust and friendship before they make the leap into sex. The revelation of Bastian’s new nature, which he can barely fathom, let alone explain to Riley, comes as a betrayal—any echo of bad boyfriend rocks Riley to the core, and he’s got a lot of shocks coming as the two figure out themselves and their relationship. It’s rather sweet to see vampirism coming as a possible deal-breaker with an otherwise marvelous guy, instead of being the huge lure.
The plot seems to veer toward a certain confrontation—I kept waiting for it, but every time the set-up seemed to lead that way, it twisted sideways again, leading to a certain amount of frustrated anticipation on my part, although it wasn't exactly a loose end. I did get something I didn’t anticipate, an acute demonstration of how Riley has changed in other ways from being with Bastian. This came as a horrible shock to Riley, and I really felt for him while he explored his very limited options, although his flip-out might come as a horrible shock to readers who don’t care for any hint of infidelity in their stories. I saw it as desperation more than anything else, and understandable.
I liked the characters very much, being good-hearted young men with some whacked-out problems, trying to solve them with the best of intentions and the worst of coping skills. The secondary characters came with a few interesting twists of their own, and were a nice but not intrusive touch, and they did get the one true eyes-bugging-out moment. The pacing seemed a little uneven, but this was a pleasing read all the same. Focused more on trust than the good or evil of vampires, this is young love with blood rather than horror. 4 marbles
(This story is available in print and ebook, and also as a bundle with both. Nice touch. Also, the publisher's web site has been redesigned and is very clear and easy to use.)