Title: Dress the Neck Becomingly
Series name: Sanguis Et Fauna (Book 2)
Author: Emmaline Strange
Genre: MM Paranormal Vampire Romance
Fresh off a case that exposed him to the supernatural world of shapeshifters, Detective Royce Davis just wants his life to go back to normal.
Unfortunately, between his commanding officer breathing down his neck, and his boyfriend dumping him, normal suddenly isn’t all that appealing. So what’s a strait-laced detective to do?
Engage in an ill-advised one-night stand with a Vampire, naturally.
When bodies start to drop and people go missing, can Royce find a way to trust his blood-sucking new beau?
Dress the Neck Becomingly is a steamy paranormal mystery that contains violence and some consensual blood play. It can be read as a standalone romance with no cliffhanger, but is best enjoyed after reading Mighty Quill, the first book in the Sanguis Et Fauna universe.
“How do you like it?” I asked, leaning in to whisper in his ear the way he’d done to me at the club. I ran my palms down his back, his skin smooth and petal-soft. His breath caught in his throat as he answered. “Rough.”
What I loved:
Sinclair. Sinclair. Sinclair. There, I just gave you three excellent reasons as to why you should read this book. He’s definitely on my top ten list of favorite vampire characters. He might actually be on my list of all-time favorite characters, full-stop.
Sinclair is a total cinnamon-roll vampire. I didn’t know how into this type of character I was until recently (it started with “Johann”, book 4 of The Vampire’s Mate series, by Grae Bryan, but Sinclair totally sealed the deal for me). He’s adorably misguided about how to play the modern dating game. Instead, he decides to “court” Royce with various gifts which are increasingly hilarious.
More importantly, he’s sweet, vulnerable, kind, earnest, just the right amount of sassy, and somehow still incredibly relatable, despite being a vampire. This is usually pretty hard to pull off with an inhuman character, but Emmaline Strange does it beautifully. By the end of the book, I really, really wanted him to get a happy ending. No, I NEEDED him to have a happy ending.
Spoiler alert: he definitely gets a very sweet and very steamy happily ever after.
Speaking of steam, let’s take a second to talk about the spice level. These characters have sex a lot. Like, a LOT. I was perfectly okay with this, but just be advised that it is quite “action-packed.” And look, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but it may not be safe to read on a lunch break at work or on the bus. The sex scenes were really well done, by the way. Lots of fun to read. It ended up getting a tiny bit kinky with some very light BDSM (suggestions of dom and sub roles and some mild bondage play). Not usually my cup of tea, but I didn’t mind it at all. I was actually kind of proud of both characters for recognizing what they enjoyed and pursuing it with each other. Though, the sex scene at the end was so crazy that I was honestly a little worried about whether Royce had rental insurance. So, yes. It’s a spicy book.
And then there’s Royce, Sinclair’s love interest. It took me a few days to cool off from this book enough for me to be fair to him.
To start off, I will say that I really liked Royce at first and I found myself rooting for him. His reaction to finding out that Sinclair was a vampire was hilarious and utterly believable. He’s a very well-drawn character and, in many ways, he really is a good match for Sinclair. I enjoyed the fact that he’s a detective and I LOVED his partner, Priya. She was the amazing no-nonsense friend we all need in our lives, and I hope good things happen to her later in the series, even if it’s “off-page.”
However, very abruptly, I wanted to reach into the book and throttle Royce. There’s a point about halfway through the story where he mistreats Sinclair, and I was not having it one bit. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Royce’s reaction to Sinclair’s feeding habits read as borderline unhealthy to me. I do get why it happened in terms of the plot, but it still rubbed me the wrong way. You might have a different reaction than I did, so like anything else, your mileage might vary.
I will say that the author at least did something fun and very unique from a world-building angle, which stems directly from this situation. This part was, admittedly, quite fun to read. However, it took me up until the end of the book to forgive Royce for being such a jerk about things.
Royce eventually learns his lesson and he does grow as a person, more or less. Plus, he lays it all out on the line for Sinclair at the end, so there’s that. He’s forgiven (mostly), but only if he keeps treating Sinclair well (I’ve got my eye on you, Royce).
I really liked the romance between Royce and Sinclair up until the middle of the book, and then again towards the end. But I’ll be honest, I stuck it out for a little while exclusively for Sinclair.
I want to be perfectly clear that I think Emmaline Strange is a fantastic writer. Just because I personally had some problems with a few of the choices Royce made with Sinclair, that does NOT mean that I think this was a bad story, nor a bad romance. It was a fantastic story. It was also a very well-done and often very steamy romance. I walked away from the book with no regrets.
And look, if I’m being fair, Royce had some ugly inner stuff to work through and he handled it poorly at first. This is actually very authentic to how relationships with other people are when I stop to think about it. After all, none of us is perfect and sometimes when we’re relating to other people, we screw things up.
Overall, it was a delight to sink my teeth into this book. Structurally, as a romance, it was beautifully done. The pacing was excellent. And the author’s writing style is crisp, clear, and easy to read. It was exceptionally well edited. It was almost effortless to read, which kept me turning the pages (yes, even during the section of the book where I was glaring daggers every time I saw Royce’s name). Also, I’m just going to say, it’s one hundred percent a testament to her abilities as a storyteller that I felt so emotionally invested in Sinclair.
This IS the second book in the Sanguis Et Fauna series. The couple from the first story does make a cameo appearance (they’re delightful, by the way). However, Emmaline Strange does a fantastic job recapping, so you don’t really need to read the first book to understand what’s going on in this one. You probably should—I’m going to. But you don’t need to.
I fully recommend this book if you enjoy (very) steamy male-male paranormal romances between a cinnamon roll/sunshine vampire and a grumpy human detective. But honestly, if nothing else, just go and read this book for Sinclair—he’s everything we all needed in a vampire protagonist, even if we didn’t know it. You can thank me later.
You can buy it or read for free with Kindle Unlimited here.