My Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Amazon Rating: 3.80 / 5.00
Goodreads Rating: 3.96 / 5.00
Gabrielle Maxwell is an orphan. Her mother abandoned her when she was a newborn and then committed suicide in a mental institution, after raving about vampires trying to kill her. Now twenty-seven, Gabrielle is an emerging photographer with a small circle of good friends and is making quite a nice life for herself in Boston. Everything seems to be going well until she sees a dark stranger across a dance club. Feeling very uneasy about some of the other people in the club she tries to leave, only to witness them killing, and apparently eating, a man just outside. When they turn on her she uses the flashes of her phone’s camera to keep them at bay as she makes her escape. The police are unwilling to believe her account of the murder, especially as there is no body or evidence that it occurred. Then Lucan Thorne, a detective, arrives at her apartment and claims to believe her entirely.
Lucan is not really a member of the police department: he is the leader of the warriors that protect the vampires of the Breed from the Rogues who have given way to mindless Bloodlust. The Breed mostly live quietly in Darkhavens around the world, but the Rogues are greedy and indiscriminate in their attacks on humans, and they are growing in numbers. Indeed, it seems that a dark intelligence is now marshaling them in a war against Lucan and his brother warriors, and Gabrielle has just become an important player in that war. She is a Breedmate, one of the rare human females born with the right genetic makeup to mate with one of the Breed, who are all male. Lucan cannot keep his mind, or hands off her, but he refuses to bind himself to her, even when he has to bring her into his command center in order to keep her safe.
This book falls very clearly into the Vampire Romance genre, but there are no fey, sparkly Edwards in evidence. In fact, these are not your typical undead vampires at all: they are the descendants of eight aliens that crashed on Earth thousand of years ago and the human females that they impregnated. These original aliens were vicious bloodsuckers, but their offspring were much more human-friendly and killed their fathers to stop the violence and bloodshed. However, all members of the Breed can fall prey to the Bloodlust if they allow their self-control to waver. I agree with Cathy Sova at The Romance Reader, all of this is different enough from the usual fare to be interesting and a nice change from the normal fare. The world that Ms Adrian creates is believable and detailed, with a minimum of dull exposition.
The lead characters, Gabrielle and Lucan, are both three-dimensional, well drawn characters, although they both could do with a slap about the face to awaken them to the obvious attraction between them. It seems that relentless sexual desire and numerous very amorous bedroom encounters do not translate into a possible relationship, not for these two dunces. This goes on a little too long for my liking, though I guess Lucan has had a very, very long time being broodingly macho and alone, so it does make sense that he would be resistant to change, and I believe it is also a convention of the Romance genre. The secondary characters are also quite believable, especially the other warriors and their Breedmates. Although they fall into several stereotypes, they are still individual enough to be satisfying. It will be interesting to see how these characters are expanded later in the series: will we continue to focus of Lucan and Gabrielle, or will the focus shift, as it does in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series? I am also intrigued to see how Lucan reacts to being in a relationship, though I guess it will involve lots of anger, brooding and broken objetcs.
As Amanda notes at Love Vampires, the action, both in and out of bed, is hot and fast-paced, which might be a problem for some people, especially those who prefer their romance a little less gory, but I thought it hit a nice balance. Holjo at Pedantic Phooka draws parallels between this book and the BDB series, although she doesn’t believe that Ms Adrian set up plot lines and characters for the rest of her titles as well as Ms Ward. However, this is a debut novel, so I think we cannot blame Ms Adrian for trying to tie up all the plot lines at the end of the book. I can see the similarities to Dark Lover, the first BDB title, but I would need to read further into both series to make more comparisons.
This was an enjoyable read, with an intriguing world inhabited by interesting characters and I look forward to reading more in the series.