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3.7 out of 5 stars
Dracula in Love
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It is true that the Count himself does not appear in the flesh until late in Essex's beautifully executed story, but I would argue that the anticipation is part of the charm and romance of the novel, and it is, in fact, Mina's story. Whether you've read Stoker's original masterpiece or know nothing of the tale, when readnig Dracula in Love you will know that Dracula is ALWAYS in Mina's world. You will feel him as she feels him, even if he isn't there for the eyes to see. The Count's late arrival is part of Essex's mastermind as it adds to the eternal love story between them. The passion between Mina and the Count is reminiscent of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights.

In addition to the eternal love story, Essex keeps on giving in the way of an incredibly detailed portrait of Victorian London including a thorough exploration of feminist issues of the time through the powerful female characters. Not to mention the horrific scenes in the asylum--the inspiration for which came from actual 19th century physician notes!

If love and history aren't enough to get your blood pumping, maybe vampires are... Dracula in Love will not disappoint in this realm, and instead will show you vampires you've never seen before.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good read, and if you're looking for romance, history or vampires...it's an absolute must read.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a lover of creatures of the night, I thouroughly enjoyed the brimming vampire mythology contained in this book. There's an entire underlayer to this dark world that I wasn't aware existed. Any true vampire fan will appreciate the stones that have been unturned by Essex.

I also appreciate the author's take on Stoker's original story, despite the generous dose of romance inevitably geared at female readers. Not being a female reader, I was drawn to the darker parts of Victorian London and the rich history provided, not to mention the chilling hallways and rooms in the asylum.

Overall, I found the book engaging and a good read. With elements for vampire fans, literature lovers, history fanatics, there is plenty to sink your teeth into.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 13, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
*********SPOLIER ALERT*************SPOILER ALERT****************

The main problem I have is this.....

If a writer is going to take on the task of rewriting a classic novel such as Dracula, and if said author is going to change our perception of who Dracula REALLY was, essentially turning the nefarious Count into a "lonely, misunderstood" guy whose major sin seems to be that of falling in love with a woman who technically isn't his, then why can't this same author alter the fate of one "misunderstood" Count? Why go through the trouble of rewriting Dracula's character to such a degree that he wins the affections of the reader, only to have the author kill him off anyway? If, as Mina Harker claims, Bram Stoker "got the story all wrong", couldn't he have gotten the ending wrong as well? I really hate books that kill off very likable characters and, as far as this story is concerned, Dracula was actually a very likable guy. I was actually rooting for him, thinking he stood a chance considering Bram Stoker "got it all wrong", but I was sorely disappointed.

Throughout the entire book, Mina's idiotic husband who, by the way, checks Mina into an insane asylum and allows her to be tortured at the hands of his "friend" and this same idiotic husband who commits egregious acts of adultry against his innocent and naive wife, maintains his title as hero while Count Dracula (who, by the way, rescues Mina from the insane asylum that her husband abandoned her in) keeps his place as local villain. What the.....?? The husband, with his arrogant and holier-than-thou attitude emerges as the champion and the Count, who has saved Mina's life several times and waited patiently with her while she tried tirelessly to remember her past relationship with the Count, remains villified. The author got the qualities of our characters mixed up and gave "the good guy" evil characteristics (with a still happy ending!) and "the bad guy" was rewritten as a good guy, but still given a villian's fate.

Overall, I hated this book for the reason mentioned above. However, there were some interesting details about how people were treated in insane asylums and some of the stories about how Mina and Dracula met (in a past life) were interesting. Still not worth reading, though, in my opinion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I found this book at my local library three years ago and fell in love myself. The different take on the original story of Dracula is outstanding and liberating. From a woman's point of view it shows the mistreatment of women at the time and how they were incriminated for normal feelings while men were supported. The story of past lives and mortality and immortality is fascinating and beautiful. I recently read it again and remembered why I loved it so much with all the imagery and the history as well. It takes you for a ride with the character and has you deciding along with her and just feeling her emotions. I could go for a sequel set in modern times with Dracula and Mina again picking up from where they left off either with her having stayed or gone and come to another life for another decision.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The advertisement for Dracula in Love by Karen Essex said: "If you read only one more vampire novel, let it be this one." That's a pretty bold statement so I took the bait. Dracula as told by Mina? Sounds pretty tasty, right? I bit (pun intended) on the posting for an advance copy. In hindsight, I should have probably just followed my gut telling me there's too much vampire-fiction out there for all of it to be worthy of the hype.

While reading, I found myself comparing Essex's retelling of Dracula with the original (how could I not?). It's been several years since I read Stoker's Dracula so I don't remember all the details, but everyone knows the basic plot. Nearing the end of Dracula in Love I pondered the basic question any reader should think of when perusing a spin-off: Is the spin worthy of the original? I asked myself if Essex's retelling was really anything new or original or markedly better. In the end I decided that Bram Stoker's novel is a classic tragedy, making Karen Essex's version a copy of a tragedy which came out underwhelming and fairly lifeless (which, although necessary for a vampire, is not so good for a novel). Her love scenes were hot and heavy, but her frequent use of the word "preternatural" annoyed me to no end. Knowing what happens in Dracula meant I knew what would happen in Dracula in Love, and although the story should to be in the telling, Essex didn't inspire me with her version like good historical-fiction should.

For those of you in search for the next vampire novel, sure, maybe you'll enjoy Dracula in Love because it's got vampires and they're attractive and it's got women taking control and all that good stuff. But for me, if a writer is going to tackle something as venerable as DRACULA, they had better do it well. In this case, the aim fell far from the mark and the resulting product was another paperback to add to the growing pile of fang-related books on the market these days. Sigh.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Call me naive, but I expected a book entitled Dracula in Love to prominently feature Dracula. But I am 250 pages in and he has yet to appear in the flesh.

Instead, there has been a lot historical colour and a lot of talking about folklore. Frankly, it all comes across as filler, doing little to advance the plot.

Protagonist Mina Murray spends a lot of time wandering around in a dream state. I sympathise; following the abrupt, often awkward, turns of the plot left me a bit glassy-eyed too.

I'm not sure why this book was written. As a reworking of Bram Stoker's classic story, it fails. As an interesting read in its own right, it fails. However, if its goal was to make me fling it aside in disgust, it succeeded admirably.

I'm not overly squeamish and I am definitely no prude and have long said that I will read anything. I was wrong. I will not read something that repeatedly demeans both the intelligence and sexuality of women (even if it does reflect a historically accurate viewpoint) and I will not read about a woman being needlessly tortured.

I find nothing erotic or even likable about this story. It's perversely prurient and it makes my skin crawl.

Sorry but I won't be sticking around to see if Dracula and his lover live happily ever after.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
I didn't buy the kindle version of this book, "Dracula In Love", but I've read it and it's my favorite book. Number one in my Top 5. It's, basically, "Dracula" told from Mina's point of view. How she was taken from the love of her life (Dracula) and her journey in a mental institution. A fantastic romance that shows the love the two shared and the revulsion the men (Jonathan Harker, Van Helsing, etc.) expressed to Dracula. In the book, there were explicit romance scenes, violence, and time-travel as she remembers her past lives with Dracula. It had my emotions in a turmoil and it was so realistic and well written that I was confused as to whether or not I was in reality or my book. I couldn't put it down until it was done, and when it was, I read it again. And again. And again. If anyone were to consider buying this book, I would absolutely recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Fresh view over a well known story that transports us to another time. Very well written. A true literary delight.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Karen Essex takes many liberties in Dracula in Love, that's different in every which way from Dracula. The only thing that remains are the characters, and even then, their actions made me shake my head. I really wanted to enjoy Dracula in Love, but found so many things questionable. I would say this is a borderline fantasy novel with very sensual scenes of desire and claiming of one souls where the taking of blood is used rather than actual sex.

Mina has been haunted by disturbing dreams all her life. She tends to sleepwalk and reaches out to a shadowy man who calls for her. Her parents turned their backs on her because when she was a child, she would see strange things. She was sent from Ireland to a boarding school in London, where she was taught to be a well mannered young lady. There she meets Jonathon and they fall and love. Mina also spends her time with an old school chum, Kate Reed, a brash, outspoken journalist who may or may not be having an affair with another journalist. While Jonathon is away in charge of a real-estate transaction in the duchy of Styria, Mina has erotic dreams that make her question her mortal soul. But then Mina is sent word that Jonathon is recovering in a hospital. She rushes to her fiancé and is shocked to see that his body can't be controlled, as in he is constantly aroused. He admits that he succumbed to the desires of the flesh for the Count's niece. Mina feels betrayed but still marries Jonathon.

The Harpers' marriage is less than ideal and Mina feels Jonathon needs help. Around this time, her dear friend Lucy has died from treatments due to female hysteria. Mina will take Jonathon to the same mental institution where Lucy was committed, hoping he will recover from his ordeal, as well as find out what really happened to Lucy. Soon Mina is a victim of the same treatment Lucy was given, and is rescued by the man in her dreams, who proves to her that she is not of this world and has lived many lives before this one.

Dracula in Love is heavy on mythological lore about fairies and the Sidhe, and how Mina is not a simple mortal and meant to be with the Count. The Count has watched Mina through many lifetimes, waiting for the moment to make her his mate again. He treats her with care, only giving into a few base desires because of how fragile she is.

Karen Essex present a solid case why Mina should run off with the Count seeing as they're soul mates, and how Jonathon is weak in mind and body and treats Mina with a major lack of respect. Again the decision is all in Mina's hands. It's up to her and how she handles it. Dracula in Love almost reads like a mystery thriller. I was ready to give it the benefit of the doubt, but Karen does something in the last fifty pages that really turned me off and just didn't make sense. I really didn't see any chemistry between Mina and the Count, and Jonathon's entire wishy-washy personality was practically destroyed. I didn't find myself sympathetic to Mina and everything she has gone through. As writing goes, Karen does have an appealing style, but because I couldn't connect with any of the characters, Dracula in Love didn't make any lasting impression on me.

Katiebabs
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
With how this novel started out, by twenty pages in I thought for sure I was in for a new absolute favorite to add to my list. Since dishing on the very beginning isn't much of a spoiler, let me reveal that it starts out with Mina being called to in her sleep by a mysterious and gentle male voice that seems so familiar to her that she cannot help but be drawn to it. Suddenly the comforting and lulling tone of the dream shifts and she wakes to find herself being sexually assaulted by a drunken stranger in the middle of a graveyard she has wandered into. Lo and behold, an unknown gentleman appears and rescues her, hanging back in the shadows and silently beckoning her into his arms. She runs from him and returns back to the boarding school for young ladies that she teaches and resides at.

From that bang of a start, the man's appearances become less and less frequent save for a few short dreams here and there and Mina's life with her two friends, Kate and Lucy, and her relationship with Jonathon Harker take center stage. Of course, all we want to see is Dracula and his interaction with Mina and for their past to be revealed.

Well, we do get there, but slowly. I employed quite a bit of skippery when we were subjected to learning about what may or may not be Mina's past through the very long and rambling folklore tales and legends of an old man, an old woman in an asylum, and yet more odd dreams. The tone becomes very, very heavy in mysticism and mythology, throwing in everything from fairies to angels to incubi and beyond. I would have much preferred if the focus had stayed on vampires, and a certain one in particular.

But this story isn't so much about Dracula and his obsession with Mina as it is about Mina and the discovery of her origins, which go much, much further than simply being the true love and soulmate of the infamous Dracula. So this book is more, say, "The Mystery of Wilhelmina" than it is "Dracula In Love". In fact, it deviates so far beyond merely being about the love story of the vampire Dracula and his reincarnated wife Mina and focuses so strongly on other mythologies and Mina herself that I think perhaps the author should have written an original work entirely and centered it around a new race and a fresh character.

However, the author does succeed in painting a very thorough representation of Victorian England, including everything from behavioral schools for young ladies to countryside estates for the wealthy noble to extremely & sickeningly misogynistic insane asylums aiming to cure females of their sex drive and dubbing them insane for having them. The book definitely has a strong and true atmosphere, and the prose, modern only in some of its content, retains the authentic feel of truly being written in the 19th century.

Overall, for Dracula fans wanting to submerge themselves in a new angle on the classic tale and once again meet up with all of the original characters, it's worth a read. Just maybe borrow it from the library or a friend before deciding to buy.
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