The classic tale is retold through the eyes of Mina Murray, beginning with her visit to the seaside town of Whitby with her best friend Lucy Westerna. Both girls have known each other since their boarding school days and are now happy to be engaged to young men who happen to be far away from them at the moment.
While Mina feels blessed to have Jonathan Harker as her future husband, she does have a few lingering doubts. For one, she has never felt complete due to being left at an orphanage(where she grew up with Jonathan,whose mother worked there) in her infancy and wonders about who her parents truly were. Also, her intellectual curiosity is something that most women of her time are taught to curb as they become wives.
While Jonathan is on a distant journey for business reasons, Mina wants to avoid any social outings but Lucy insists that they deserve a little flirty fun. Even before she gives into her friend's desire to attend local dances, Mina meets an intriguing stranger who calls himself Maximilian Wagner, a man who is tall,dark and handsome along with being very appreciative of her love of literature and the arts. Mr. Wagner almost seems too good to be true and oh, how sadly true that becomes as Mina gets more and more involved with him:
Fortunately for Mina, word of Jonathan needing her to be by his side in a Budapest hospital gives her cause to break off with Mr. Wagner before things get too far. As Jonathan makes his recovery, the two of them marry and Mina vows to be a good wife, never to think of that brief romance again.
However, Mr. Wagner does not become simply a distant memory as he,unbeknownst to them all, plays a part in the demise of Lucy, who slowly withers away under the care of her fiance Arthur (along with two of her former beaus)and Dr. Van Helsing, who suspects a sinister influence behind the constant lack of blood in her veins:
Despite her anger about his actions, Dracula persuades her of his true love for her and offers Mina a world of delights, including intimate pleasures that involve the mutual drinking of blood. Mina longs to resist but can not be charmed by the deep passions that Dracula stirs within her and is willing to risk having a life of eternal darkness to be with him:
Mina becomes a double agent,aiding her vampire lover as his enemies grow closer. However, she soon finds herself questioning Dracula's motivations and his true intentions. Ultimately, Mina must become the heroine of her own story and make some hard choices about where her path of destiny should lead her.
Not only is the romance between Mina and Dracula(nicely contrasted with the relationship between her and Jonathan) a strong attraction to this fresh take on the iconic vampire tale, having Mina Murray-Harker as a full fledged woman in her own right makes this book a joy to read.
With her search to find her parents, doubts about being more than a traditional meek and mild helpmate to Jonathan and wanting to be respected for her mind and talents, Mina rises above the role of innocent victim of blood lust to become a smart yet emotionally vulnerable person who uses her own inner resources to stake her claim to the life she wants and deserves.
Syrie James not only honors Bram Stoker's Dracula but gives female readers a vibrant heroine who could easily stand beside a certain vampire slayer and hold her own. Plus, a romantic depiction of Dracula never really goes out of style.
My thanks to Michelle Miller for another great readathon and in particular for having my e-book,Fanny Price: Slayer of Vampires, as one of the prizes to be awarded(along with some FP buttons!). If you haven't read Dracula, My Love, do treat yourself, I implore you. This book is a seductively sweet read that entices every vampire lover to crave more Dark Prince goodness with every page turn: