I actually hate giving this book 3 stars because I whole heartedly believe in the potential of the series. The world-building, the setting, the mythology use-it's all very intriguing. But this book fell short. Chapel became a vampire when he drank from a mystical cup known as the Blood Grail, having mistaken it for the Holy Grail. Six hundred years later, in the year 1899, Pru Ryeland is searching for the Holy Grail in hopes of curing her terminal illness. Chapel fears that what she will actually find is the Blood Grail and that she will become cursed as he believes he is cursed. But as he begins to fall in love with Pru, his belief in his own soul-less nature is challenged. The use of history and mythology is fun, interesting, and well put together. The time period and setting is rich and unique, and in fact is one of the few things that sets this book apart from other paranormal writings. Chapel is a surprisingly sexy, if somewhat frustrating character. He is loyal, determined, and fun. His love for Pru is heartbreaking. First of all, Pru's terminal illness is-it's never given an exact name, so I assume uterine cancer-the biggest plot point/conflict in the book. I am not at all making light of cancer but it's presence in the story is,dare I say, drawn out to the point of dull? We expect her to be saved, obviously, whether she finds the Holy Grail or becomes a vampire. But it takes THE ENTIRE BOOK. We are forced to watch Chapel hem, haw, and struggle with his own self-pity while the love of his life suffers unnecessary pain. And Pru's cancer is a seriously painful one. I don't know how well Smith researched the disease but I happen to know from what I've witnessed that 1)Even early stage cancer patients are often exhausted, suffer from easy bruising, and tend to have compromised immune systems, and 2) The physical reality of advanced uterine cancer does not usually allow for any kind of comfortable sexual relationship. So the fact that Pru is so active right up until the very end is seriously problematic. Despite all of this, I still have high hopes for the series. While I did not care for the terminal illness plot-line, I enjoyed Smith's style and imagination.