How to Sell Your Blood & Fall in Love by D.N. Bryn (Guides for Dating Vampires #2)

“You have money, I have blood. How would you like to buy it?”

No romantic story has ever lived up to Dr. Clementine Hughe’s reality but at least he has his steamy two-million-word fanfic and a prestigious research position at Vitalis-Barron Pharmaceuticals, where their benefits are superb and their experimentation on vampires highly unethical. When a mysterious accident turns Clementine into a vampire, discovery would demote him to lab rat and his growing thirst for his coworker’s veins forces him to the streets to hunt.

Justin Yu is usually the one attacking villains in alleys, not the other way around. After the tragedy he brought upon his local vampiric community in his youth, he’s struggled tirelessly to keep their vampires safe. So when a panicking Clementine botches a bite attempt, Justin takes pity—and advantage—and offers the vampire a trade: his blood in exchange for an exorbitant fee.

In desperation, Clementine accepts.

Justin’s blood is bland and unappealing, but the more Clementine learns to appreciate the man’s sharp humor and persistent compassion, the more he acquires a taste for Justin. Justin is determined not to let Clementine’s good looks and thoughtful intellect distract him as hunters from Vitalis-Barron close in on Justin’s neighborhood, and it turns out someone there knows Clementine’s vampiric secret…

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Simon Dornet (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 491 pages (12 hours 15 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s), Trans Secondary Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).

Clementine was turned into a vampire several months ago, but doesn't know how it happened. When he finally gets desperate enough to try biting a random stranger, that stranger turns out to be Justin. Justin grew up with vampires as his friends, neighbors, and almost-family, and has been protecting the vampires in his neighborhood ever since a terrible mistake he made a decade ago. He offers to let Clementine pay him for his blood, and what begins as a business transaction gradually turns into something much more vital and intimate. 

Clementine has spent his life feeling like his needs are too strange and specific to be accommodated. His siblings care about him, but they keep waiting for him to find a romantic partner and he's never felt the stuff that everyone talks about being so wonderful. Becoming a vampire just made things even worse. Now he can't go to his sister's evening functions because they'll be too loud, and he can't attend the daytime ones because he'd get sun poisoning and might actually die (instead of just feeling like the noise will kill him). When he first bites Justin, his blood is just okay. Nothing special, nothing like how amazing blood directly from a human is supposed to taste for a vampire. But then, gradually, the more Clementine gets to know Justin, to care about him as a person and not just a willing meal, the better his blood tastes. It's unexpected and wonderful, as welcome as it is precarious. Because now he knows how good it can be, which means he doesn't want it to end.

HOW TO SELL YOUR BLOOD & FALL IN LOVE is set up as a stand-alone story. It features extremely brief interactions with the main characters from the first book, but should make sense even to someone who treats this as an entry point for the series, or who just reads this and no connected stories. The two books share a villain, kind of, as the antagonists of both stories are working with/for a pharmaceutical company which experiments on vampires, routinely torturing and killing them in the name of science. Clementine actually appeared briefly in HOW TO BITE YOUR NEIGHBOR & WIN A WAGER, as one of the scientists at the lab. 

The main storyline is so self-contained that someone could enjoy this human/vampire romance without having read the first book. However, it’s pretty clear from a few mid-story moments and the cliffhanger ending that this is meant to be part of an ongoing saga, not just the travails of vampires plagued by an evil company on an individual basis. 

The worldbuilding is very cohesive, set in a world just like our own except that vampires, werewolves, and some other kinds of not-fully-human people exist. Things I love about this story, in no particular order: Clementine writing fanfic, Justin's salt and pepper shaker collection, the audiobook narrator's excellent performance, Clementine and Justin when the tour group came by, the store's transformation.

The ending emotionally wrapped up in a very satisfying manner, then established a logistical cliffhanger in the final moments to tease the next book. It’s done well and is more in the vein of making the next problem clear than anything else. Before that cliffhanger, however, the final few chapters were deeply moving for me as a queer person. There’s a moment where I instantly knew the thing that connected all the people waiting in line, before it’s explained in the text. It’s just one of many ways that the story is made better by dealing with anti-vampire sentiment as one of many prejudices, putting it in a context with homophobia, transphobia, classism, and ableism. One more way people are shitty to those they view as non-persons. It’s frustratingly believable that the villain would be a pharmaceutical company. This is absolutely not the final book, though I’m not sure if it’s meant to just be a trilogy or a longer series. 

Graphic/Explicit CW for grief, sexual content, blood, violence, chronic illness.

Moderate CW for bullying, stalking, emotional abuse, physical abuse, panic attacks, drug use, kidnapping, fire/fire injury, gun violence, injury detail, murder, death.

Minor CW for homophobia, transphobia, racism, confinement, alcohol, fire/fire injury, epidemic, forced institutionalization, cancer, child death, parental death.

Author's note: "Sell Your Blood is the second book in a series of loosely connected MM paranormal romances. It features an Ivy League a-spec vampire who’s never been in love before and an inner-city man who’s sworn off relationships for the last decade as they struggle to combine their different worlds and find a fire in each other hotter than they thought possible. While it can be enjoyed on its own, the optimal reading order is chronological. Note this story features blackmail, general violence, the smoking of prescription drugs to manage intense pain, and the acquisition of far too many salt and pepper shakers."

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