Before starting this review I must admit that I’m not the target audience for these types of stories. Paranormal romance is not my field of expertise or interest, and the Goth scene has never captured my attention. So please bear that in mind while reading the rest of this review.“Starblood” begins strong. Satori is a Goth/Magician obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, and determined to win her back using every available tool. When we first meet him he’s in the middle of a complicated spell that, if successful, will summon a demon with the power of making Star love him again. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when the spell summons Lilith instead, the Biblical demon expelled from Paradise. As you probably could have guessed, Lilith is not thrilled at the idea of serving a mortal, and after dismissing him completely she goes out into the world to do her own thing. Satori embarks upon a quest whose purpose is to take Lilith back to her own dimension, while unintentionally changing his ex-girlfriend’s life forever. Without giving too much away, that’s the central plot of “Starblood”. It wasn’t a bad read by any means, but it kept reminding me of Chekhov’s adage: “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." Several things are mentioned in the story like Star’s supposedly dark past and untapped power that lead you to think they’ll be important later on, only to be dropped without further mention. Characters with only the most tangential connection with the main story have entire chapters dedicated to them (I’m looking at you Freya!!!!!), and there’s no mention of a sequel, so I don’t know if those sections are an example of a writer’s inability to “murder your darlings” of a prologue to future books. Oh, and I also read most of a chapter before realizing it was a flashback, which then forced me to reread the whole thing again. As for the characters, well, there’s not much I can say without spoilers. I didn’t care all that much for Satori, since most of the time his scope of interests seemed limited to an obsession with an unattainable woman and personal appearance (do Goths really spend all that time deciding what to wear and what kind of makeup to put on?), but by the end of the book I realized that he wasn’t really all that bad. There’s growth in his character, especially when he starts to come to terms with the way his actions have damaged those around him. As for Star, I kept expecting her to live to her potential as a character, only to see her fall short time and time again. Apparently there’s a whole, dark story behind her motivations and her fear to get involved with Satori, but for some reason this is never fully addressed in the book beyond hinting that she’s an especial snowflake because her childhood was really, really bad. And Lilith. Oh, Lilith. Is it wrong of me to like her? The woman is strong, takes no crap from anyone, and follows her own agenda, determined to make a place for herself after the disappointing events with Adam in God’s Paradise. I knew she was supposed to be the bad guy here, but in comparison with Satori’s whining personality she came across as the only character interesting enough to root for. I was all “Team Lilith” in the first part of the book, until she started doing stuff like killing a girl for no reason that made absolutely no sense given what I knew about her. It’s like the author forgot at first that she was supposed to be the antagonistic force behind Satori’s predicament, and after remembering it just seemed easier to turn her into a murderous bitch in the middle of the plot than to revise the character from the beginning. Those were the problems. The good bits, the ones that earn “Starblood” three stars instead of two, involve engaging erotic scenes, hot enough that I felt weird reading them in my way to work, next to at least a hundred people (and what’s erotic fiction good for besides making you feel uncomfortable in public places?), interesting discussions about the consequences of daring to be different in a society where a piercing or a tattoo will still get you more than one disapproving glance on the bus (and in the case of some of the characters, even worse reactions), and a story that included a diversity of sexual orientations lacking in today’s mainstream romance books. I can’t assure you that I will be reading more of Carmilla’s work since her interests are way different from mine (I learned in South Park everything I know about Goths, and paranormal romance is not my thing), but I do recommend her in case these things do capture your imagination, and you’re willing to give a self-published author an opportunity.