Vladlena Paskelkov is a shifter who can't change into her animal form. No shifter who suffers from this anomaly has ever lived more than a few weeks past their twenty-fourth birthday, a milestone in Lena's life that she's nearly reached. When her brother is brought into Underworld General Hospital, where she works as a nurse, with fatal injuries from a fight club death match, she vows to use her final days to seek justice for him. After getting a job as a medic at the nightclub that acts as a front for the underground operation, Lena begins investigating. But she didn't expect to feel an overwhelming attraction for her new boss, a person she doesn't know whether she can trust with her secrets.
Nathan Sabine has worked as a manager at the club for decades. After the owner, Fade, killed his mate, Nate vowed to take him down from the inside, but Fade found a weakness to hold Nate in check. As time wore on, his thirst for revenge became muted, leaving him feeling apathetic about life in general until Lena walks into his club. She stirs feeling within him he thought long dead and reinvigorates his desire to finish his mission. But by the time he discovers why she's really working there, her life is already in jeopardy. Can the two of them find a way to finally defeat Fade? And if they do, can they possibly have a happy life together when Lena is doomed to die soon anyway?
"Vampire Fight Club" is a novella in Larissa Ione's Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series that falls between Eternal Rider and Immortal Rider in the series chronology. It tells the story of Vladlena, a nurse at Underworld General Hospital, who is also a shifter who can't transform into her animal self. As a result, she's doomed to die shortly after her twenty-fourth birthday, which is rapidly approaching. When her brother is brought in torn to shreds and she discovers that he'd been participating in some sort of arena death match, she's determined to infiltrate the fight club and take it down as her last act. To that end, she gets a job as a medic at the legitimate nightclub that caters to supernaturals and acts as a front for the underground operation. There she meets club manager Nathan, a vampire who stirs her desires but who she doesn't know if she can trust. As their attraction ramps up, she eventually comes to realize that they have similar goals, but the club owner isn't so easy to eliminate.
Nathan was turned vampire two centuries before, and soon after, he accidentally turned his beloved wife, whom he thought he'd killed. Mourning her loss, he wandered Europe for decades before finally finding her alive and in the arms of another supernatural known as Fade. After seducing her away from Fade, he hoped they'd finally have a future together only to have that cut short when Fade captured her and put her in the fighting area where she was killed. Filled with rage over losing her again, Nathan intended to infiltrate Fade's organization and take it down from the inside, but the longer it's taken, the more apathetic he's become until he hates himself for not doing more. When Vladlena comes into his club, she stirs something inside him that he hasn't felt in ages, and when Fade presents a threat to her, Nathan discovers that he'll do anything to keep her safe.
Overall, "Vampire Fight Club" was a good addition to this series. It was an interesting novella that presented a story of two characters who fit together very well. The characterizations were quite good for this shorter format and I generally enjoyed the story. I have only two small complaints. The first is that Nathan can be a bit of a jerk in the beginning, which made me want to smack him silly, but during the final third or so of the novella, when he rediscovers his purpose in life, he turns into a much nicer and more admirable person. It was at that point I finally fell for him. The second issue is that Nathan and Lena tend to lead with their sexual chemistry right out of the gate, which didn't work well for me. Even though they don't actually have sex until the end, they do other things, and I just wasn't feeling enough of a connection between them to make such intimacies appealing to me. This was probably because Nate rubbing me the wrong way, made it hard to discern what Lena saw in him at that point. Despite all that, though, the ending was great, an action-packed showdown that really engaged by attention, and once Nate and Lena actually began communicating, I finally felt that all-important emotional bonding between them that put paid to their romantic relationship. Nate also has an intriguing connection to one of the Four Horsemen, which the author says in her endnote will be explored later in the Lords of Deliverance series, so I look forward to seeing more of Nate and Lena in future books. "Vampire Fight Club" was originally published in the anthology, Supernatural, but was later re-released as a stand-alone ebook.
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