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4.7 out of 5 stars33
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 21 March 2014
This was originally intended as a free novel to be posted on Karen Chance's website as a thank you to her fans. Unfortunately, the publishers didn't quite see it this way and, pointing to the contract indicated publishing rights. Consequently this is no longer a freebie, but a discounted novel.

A full length novel (not a short) it is loosely based on the Cassie Palmer universe. Although this is a standalone, (based around a 'baby' 2 yr old vampire Mircea Basarab) you are more likely to enjoy it if you have read something from the Cassie or Dory series. Masterless and vulnerable, Mircea washes up in Venice as part of the flotsam and jetsam of the vampire world. He is picked up the madam of an upmarket Venetian brothel looking for slaves to service the vampire convocation. An adult novel, this starts off with some explicit scenes for team Mircia fans before settling down into Chance's signature style of humour, political intrigue and action based chaos.

Most of the characters significantly predate the Cassie/ Dory books but there are a couple of interesting cameos. Great value for KC fans, but perhaps not the best to start your Karen Chance journey, even though this is effectively a prequel. New readers should start with Touch the Dark or Hunt the Dawn.
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on 23 April 2014
I buy every book that Karen Chance brings out and I would never consider giving any one of them less than five stars (with rapturous feedback at that!) I was disappointed to learn that due to contractual issues with her publishers Karen would not be able to offer Masks for free as she had originally intended. Naturally however I was still going to buy it! Mircea is one of my favourite characters of hers and it was fascinating to catch a glimpse of him in his early years as a vampire when he was not a master, did not have a family around him and oodles of influence and wealth. Karen Chance's characters are so well constructed and believable that it is easy to pick up a book without Cassie or Dory in it (her main characters) and still be completely enraptured but Mircea obviously has had such a long and exciting life that it was marvellous to get to know some of it better. Exciting as always, funny as always and with a glimpse into the relationship between the consul and Mircea that definitely had me looking twice at what had been mentioned in Cassie's books, I would recommend Masks to anyone whether you've read some of the other books or none at all. Fabulous reading as always!
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on 7 April 2014
... and Cassie isn't even in it!

It's all about Mircea. And what a brilliant story Ms Chance weaves. Still only a hint of Mircea's pre-vamp roots, but you don't miss that tale at all, because you join Mircea on a roller coaster of excitement as he bonds with his fellow newbies, learns the ropes of his new situation in Venice, and observe the future leader and player starting to emerge.

It's a well balanced tale. Just enough descriptive to make you feel like you're actually with him in Mediciesque Venice. Development of characters cold, cunning, ruthless and lost. A plotline that grows as the main character's own awareness and understanding grows. And, just enough humour to make you smile, but not so much it stops being Mircea.

I have to give five stars because I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and Ms Chance has opened a path for us to have tales of some of the characters introduced here - should she so choose (hint hint), BUT.... I was so hoping to have a little more manservant/master time and feel poor old H sort of got left adrift on a gondola somewhere.
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on 12 April 2014
I enjoyed reading this found Karen Chance a few years ago so had a full row to read then, but am now waiting patiently (not) for each new book to come out. Found this by accident and loved the background to the characters and now am annoying myself with thoughts of 'were they all there in the future?' Some stood out but others I will have to re-read the books to find them! Full length story not sure where it fits into the universe of books but read it before your read about Dorina. Check out Karen's website.
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on 23 March 2014
Masks is the story of a young Mircea Basarab, as he washes up in Venice a couple of years after becoming vampire.

Mircea is my favourite Karen Chance character. He's incredibly well-developed, with a depth that's often lacking within the 'sexy vampire' UF trope, though you have to read both the Cassie and Dory series to truly appreciate the different aspects of his personality. I was keen to get my hands on this book in the hope that I could figure out just what makes him tick.

Mircea of modern times is powerful, wealthy, stylish and assured. 15th century Mircea is starving, bedraggled and in jail at the start of the novel. All the older vamps in KC's books have stories to tell, and often these stories involve regret, loss and ill-treatment, and Mircea's tale is no different. Our former prince spends some of the book musing on how misfortune and sorrow are no respectors of rank or class. It's not all bitter introspection, though. Mircea is a survivor, after all. And some of the things he does to survive left me a little shocked, yes, shocked! And giggling furiously!

I think the book has a slightly different feel to the Cassie and Dory series. Whilst there are action scenes, they don't have the frenetic pace of the Cassie books. Nor is there much of the wise-cracking that pops up in the Dory series. Instead we get to see Mircea struggle to come to terms with his situation and find a way forward. There's a secondary plot involving power plays among the vampire rulers, with a few familiar faces popping up, and I liked the contrast of seeing Mircea floundering with the weakest, instead of in his usual position amongst the elite.

So, after finishing, do I have Mircea all figured out? Sadly not. There are still huge gaps in his backstory that I'd love to be filled. Can we have another two or three prequels please, KC?
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on 22 April 2014
Beginning life as a freebie short to the fans, Masks became a novel, then the publishers nabbed it, however it is worth the discounted price as its a good read and different pace and feel to the Cassie novels.

It shows something of the early life of Mircea, the handsome prince becoming a new vampire pauper in old Venice, becoming a slave to a madam, making new friends, coming to terms with his new state and falling into an adventure of the greatest weight to the vampire world . It does miss out a chunk of time near the end with a 7 years later event but those events are touched on in the other novels but I feel a little summery would have been much better, a few tit bits we didn't know or see in the other books.

Over all I would recommend all Karen Chances books.
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on 29 April 2014
…and I do love Mircea. Such a great character. This story tells the tale of Mircea's first years as a vampire. I don't think you have to have read all the other Cassie Palmer books first - this book kinda stands on its own. A great read. Cannot wait for the next one.
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on 16 March 2016
Amazing historical urban fantasy. The novel is a perfectly balanced mixture of intrigue, reflection, action scenes and pure hotness. The adventures in Venice and the rich character interactions are well worth the money- this is a super bargain! A well-written male POV, Mircea delivers an entertaining yet complex and very endearing male vampire character. Can only recommend, a truly excellent read.

One of the best authors in the genre, this novel is a credit to her, and inspires reading both her other series as well. Masks is very satisfying as a standalone too, as it offers great chracaters and world-building, and a surprisingly exciting, tense plot. But of course it is even more rewarding for readers familiar with the Dorina Basarab or the Cassandra Palmer books.
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on 13 June 2014
You need to read these in the correct order to get the most detail. They took me a few pages to get into and now I cannot wait for the next installment. I love all the twists and turns.
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on 20 April 2014
This book was awesome! It gives you a glimpse of how Mircea came to be who he is and also a little sweet scene between him and Dorina, his daughter! Loved it!
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