I’m a day late with Wendy’s 2015 TBR Challenge, but I have been DYING to do this one since last month. Last month was the “Kickin’ It Old School” month, and I grabbed something at random from a stack of secondhand books; it turned out to be Colleen Shannon’s “The Tralayne Inheritance.” The front of it mentioned a sequel, “The Wolf of Haskell Hall,” which sounded so familiar I went back and dug through the stack again and sure enough: I own that too. I’m reading it now, in fact, but this post is about the first one I picked up (second in the series), which is so gloriously over-the-top it had me howling.
Title: The Trelayne Inheritance
Author: Colleen Shannon
If you follow that title link, you’ll see the Kindle edition is listed on Amazon as “The Trelayne Inheritance (Shelley Holmes, werewolf detective Book 2).” Just…just take a moment and savour that. We not only have a Gothic-ish title, we have a female version of Sherlock Holmes and she’s a WEREWOLF detective.
I mean, you can tell this isn’t the “meticulously researched” kind of historical, right?
Even by paranormal romance standards this felt somewhat…goofy. It’s less a “set in an historical period” book than a “throw everything in here” book. It was fun, but if you’ve read
a lot of any books from the Victorian era, this might have you drinking yourself into unconsciousness.
Not that I did that! Quite.
Here’s an example: I was nearly driven batty by the constant references to the hero’s family motto. The hero is Maximillian Britton, Earl of Trelayne, and the year is 1880, and OKAY, YES, he’s a vampire-hunting vampire (don’t ask), so maybe it’s unreasonable of me to expect his family motto to NOT sound like a Hallmark card, but here it is: Tomorrow is a gift, but today is a blessing. It first shows up on page 33, and it’s supposedly engraved on the silver-plated family shield. Silver-plated? How bloody cheap are these aristocratic vampires?
I ranted at everybody around me about the Hallmark-card family motto, and then went on Twitter and complained some more, and one brilliant person said maybe the vampires were really into cross-stitched pillows. Then I hit this, and officially died:
Tomorrow is a gift, but today is a blessing. That little homily had been embroidered on Angel’s christening cushion sewn by her mother’s own hands. (p. 47)
Angel’s mother is dead, by the way, and Angel lived in an orphanage in New York from the age of eight. Yet somehow Angelina Blythe Corbett is a lady scientist, because…that was an opportunity orphans had in 1880, clearly. She’s made her way to Oxford to stay with her uncle; she’s been supporting herself as a laboratory assistant, and wants to help him with his research into blood.
In the meantime Shelly Holmes, a detective and also a werewolf (I don’t know either; it happened in the first book, which I’m only now reading), is investigating a series of murders that are being committed by a vampire with one crooked fang.
Angel’s uncle, Sir Alexander, and his wife Sarina throw a ball, and Angel meets Max Britton, who responds…enthusiastically, first by licking her nipple on a balcony in full view of everyone, and then by leaping off the second-story balcony and running off with her. Angel doesn’t object because her uncle has drugged her, and Shelly Holmes is watching all this…you know what, I’m just going to throw a few quotations in here, because nothing I say is going to adequately capture the flavour of this.
From the second-story salon window she’d opened earlier, Shelly Holmes watched Maximillian Britton, Earl of Trelayne, carry poor Miss Blythe Corbett into the night. Her eyes glowed as they caught the light cast by the full moon. She felt the change coming over her and ducked back, whipping the thick curtains shut. The hairs sprouting on the backs of her hands disappeared, and the claws growing on the ends of her fingers were sheathed back into her skin. (p. 56)
Orphans working as “lowly laboratory assistants” led really full lives back in 1880:
She’d always been attracted to dangerous things. She’d experimented with opium, she loved to gallop full-tilt over stony terrain, and she’d even climbed a steep cliff once, just to see if she could. (p. 94)
Her foresight is as accurate as most people’s hindsight. It’s almost as though she can see into the future of SCIENCE:
She needed…blood samples. So many people died so needlessly. Once the mystery of blood typing was unlocked, operations could be performed safely, accident victims could be resucitated. (p. 135)
Also, and this is a minor point that barely stands out in the sea of improbable events, but I find it very mildly squicky that the hero, having loved (and killed) the heroine’s mother, should then end up happily-ever-after with the heroine. I mean, he’s a vampire, so it’s not like he’s been aging, but…would you really want to marry your mother’s old flame, even once he was cured of his vampirism?
But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the book. It was hilarious and entertaining, and I must have read nearly half of it out loud to people. Plus now I’m enthusiastically starting on the one before this one, because I can’t resist.