The Blood Hunters Series is a paranormal romance series written by Marie Treanor. The world is on the verge of learning that vampires who have slaughtered humans for centuries are not simply a figment of the imagination, or sparkling wonders seducing inept teenage girls, but real beings. Treanor relates her tales by shifting through the romance of five different couples. Each book is focused on a new coupling, though Treanor does take care to connect the separate stories by including characters readers have become familiar with. This creates a form of cohesion that allows the stories to be linked, while building her world.
The concept itself is really quite fascinating. Hunters have been policing the vampire population for centuries and with the awakening of the ancient vampire Salomon, the hunter relationship turns from adversarial to allies who try to work through their mutual mistrust. Each book involves a romance between hunters who carry the ancient gene (a sign of descending from original vampires) and hybrids - what we have come to understand as the modern vampire. Hunters have special appeal because their blood is considered especially potent, not only because they are descendants but because it is infused with strength from all of the vampire kills.
Despite the new twist on vampire mythology and great world building, when it comes to gender, the Blood Hunters series is fraught with problems and is extremely trope laden. Many of the female protagonists have missing parents or problems with parental type figures in their lives. Mihaela survived after her parents and sisters were murdered by vampires. Janine is rejected by her parents after she turns to prostitution to feed her drug habit. Finally, we have Cyn whose father is dead and her mother is battling alzheimer’s. With the exception of the hunter community, these women are isolated. In fairness, most male members of the hunters organization all have some sort of tragic past. The problem arises in that their interactions with vampires, the male hunters remain in a dominant position, relative to their female love interests.
In Blood of Angels, Treanor subverts the normal vampire narrative by pairing a female vampire with a human male. Vampires are stronger than humans; however, instead of following through with this, Treanor had Istvan restrain Angyalka so that he could dominate her. She marvels at this and talks about her need to be dominated. When we move onto Blood Descent and the relationship between Konrad and Maggie, we are once again presented with a female vampire and human male love interest. In terms of vampires, Maggie is relatively young, as she was created during WWII. Rather than allow Maggie to be physically stronger than Konrad, it’s Konrad who has the power because his position as the leader of the Romanian Hunters means the power he has absorbed from all of his kills makes him stronger than the undead Maggie. Konrad constantly manhandles Maggie and is physically aggressive with her. Not only is Konrad physically abusive, he constantly threatens to kill Maggie and justifies this as him protecting humans from her predatory vampire nature. At one point, Konrad even chains Maggie to a radiator because he cannot trust her, leaving Maggie completely vulnerable. Maggie passively accepts this treatment, sure in the idea that Konrad can be saved. Maggie even risks her life repeatedly to save him.
Abuse as love, is common in paranormal romance but that certainly does not make it acceptable. The interactions between Konrad and Maggie are particularly problematic. The very idea that the love of a woman can save a man, if she is just submissive enough and patient enough serves to place the onus on the victim, rather than the oppressor for ending intimate partner violence. It makes the victim responsible for her own abuse. This is sexism at its finest and it illustrates how patriarchy manages to justify all manner of abuse against women. In the end, Konrad’s weak apology is enough for Maggie to declare her undying (no pun intended) love, erasing all the harm that was done. Her pain and her abuse serves the purpose of healing Konrad of his demons. Even more problematic, it humanises her. Maggie can only be values because she has been tortured abused, accepted it without complaint and healed Konrad in the process.