everafter, published 2009, is the first in the Everafter series of books written by Nell Stark and Trinity Tam. The two main characters are Alexa Newland and Valentine Darrow, and the novel is split in two, the first half narrated by Valentine, the second half narrated by Alexa.
The story begins with Valentine preparing to propose to Alexa, but she is assaulted by a vampire who infects her, and she undergoes a gradual transformation. The only way for her to prevent the final step of transformation is to drink the blood of the woman she loves.
Since Valentine is studying medicine, her narration is full of interesting biological details; vampirism is explained as a parasite, while were-creatures are a result of a virus.
Alexa decides that the only way she and Valentine can be together properly is to become a were-creature, and so we see her undergo a transformation to werepanther.
So, two transformation stories for the price of one, wrapped up in a sweet lesbian love story. That much at least is worthy of four stars, because it’s well-written and often poetic, for example:
However, it’s not enough that one becomes a vampire and the other a were, the strength of their love is such that they are exceptional in their transformation. (It reminds me a bit of Killashandra Ree’s adaptation to the symbiont in Crystal Singer.) It feels like a plot device for setting up a series, and the end of the novel drops a major clue to events in a greater series arc.
So, okay, it’s a series, not a standalone, but the ending of everafter feels very clumsy to me – I always hate when protagonists are blind to what seems obvious to the reader – and I finished the book feeling irritated rather than intrigued.