REVIEW: Hunger Pangs: True Love Bites by Joy Demorra
Updated: May 8
So first a disclaimer: I've followed Joy on social media for years now, and I've always loved her writing. Hunger Pangs: True Love Bites has been one of my most eagerly anticipated reads as a result, though it's taken me far too long to find the time to sit down and read it—and it certainly did not disappoint! This review is based on the Flirting with Fangs edition; there is a Fluff with Fangs edition for readers who prefer not to read smut.
The first in a series (I think current plans are for five, but knowing Joy this could just keep growing indefinitely), True Love Bites begins with Captain Nathan J. Northland, a disabled werewolf struggling to find his feet in the world after coming home from the war. He takes up a position as Captain of the Guard of the Eyrie, an island inhabited by vampires. There he meets Vlad Blutstein, vampire and the person who basically keeps the Eyrie running.
What follows is a beautiful slow burn between two people from very different worlds, with a centuries-old rivalry between their species and their own duties and obligations getting in their way. And that's to say nothing of the impending end of the world, heralded by Ursula, who ropes both men into helping her.
The connection between Nathan and Vlad is incredible. Demorra does a fantastic job of building the romantic tension between them over chess games and balls to create a genuine, touching love story. The trust that builds between them lays the groundwork for what is one of the best examples of a truly healthy, equal relationship I have ever read. Their exploration of kink is also beautifully well done, with absolutely no judgement and some excellent conversations about consent and limits.
Ursula, of course, stirs everything up as she is wont to do—and it's fun to see the groundwork laid for future books, and the developing relationship between all three. It's so hard to keep my mouth shut and not let spoilers out of the bag, but trust me, I know it's going to be good. The woman is a fore to be reckoned with and I can't wait for her and her boys to go all in with each other.
And as if that wasn't enough, Demorra's worldbuilding is frankly outstanding. Every one of her characters is fantastically well developed, bringing a real richness to the novel (I would read an entire series about the Collins women, honestly). The way she weaves in politics and magic is phenomenal, and not once did I feel like I was scrambling to catch up. There's a real comedic, satirical slant to it too, with a number of tropes typical of the romance and fantasy genres turned on their head. Love doesn't fix everything in 'True Love Bites'—Nathan's deafness, PTSD and chronic pain aren't cured, and Vlad doesn't suddenly become magically able to handle socialising—but it does go a long way in making it easier to cope with these struggles.
Final verdict: A thrilling gay romp, 'True Love Bites' is a Terry Pratchett meets Jane Austen with added kink, and it is the best thing I've read all year. 🍯🍯🍯🍯🍯🍯/5 honeypots (no, that's not a mistake, I am indeed giving it six)!