Audiobook Review: Ante Up by Kim Fielding

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?

Listening Length: 5 hours and 52 minutes
Narrator: Andrew McFerrin

I’ll be the first to admit that vampires rarely do it for me these days. Also, I’m not a Kim Fielding expert, so I had very little expectation when I started this. Well, it's always a wonderful thing when something comes out of nowhere and surprises, because this was an absolute delight.

Ante is basically a loner vampire. He’s content with the small simple pleasures and surviving really, on just the bare necessities as he ekes out his existence using Las Vegas’s touristy partying population to his advantage. Preying on those mostly looking for a good time or on those few who won't remember a bad time, he takes blood, money, or both, but never doing any irreparable harm. One day, Ante spies an intriguing young fellow who seems to have an unbelievable amount of charm in getting his way, and Ante cannot get him off his mind. When he ultimately confronts Peter, Ante immediately knows that Peter is no mere human. Unfortunately, Peter’s specialness has also caught the eye of the Shadows, the sinister vampire organization that rules the paranormal underground, and they want Ante to bring Peter to them.

What ensues is kinda a cat and mouse game that culminates into one big standoff. However, for me, what this excels at is the characterization of Ante. Steady with a good dose of morality but never forgetting or forgiving his past sins, he wants to be better and do better, just for a chance at happiness with Peter. So basically, Ante finally gets a light lit under his ass to change the mundanity of what his life has been like for over the last 100 years. All too quickly the fight becomes real, as both he and Peter battle for the right to exist and live freely.

Andrew McFerrin narrates the audio, and I continue to really enjoy his renditions. He brings a sturdy stalwart, no nonsense vibe to Ante, but also makes him really likeable for his gentle practicality (except when Peter’s in danger). This just happens to juxtapose quite nicely with Peter’s boyish enthusiastic charm. Throw in great voice distinction amongst the many characters, and I was one happy listener.

So overall, this wasn’t big on flash and bang. At times sedate, at others, the pace picked up with bursts of suspense and tense action, all interspersed with some sweet tender funny, as well as some good sexy times that are always always appreciated. To me, Fielding created two MC’s that I wholeheartedly wanted to root for, and successfully melded together my love of romance, paranormal, and suspense into one highly enjoyable story!

Thank you to the author/publisher for the audio in exchange for an honest review.

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