Having broken several ancient curses in the opener, Lightlark (2022), Isla has to make a high-stakes choice between her virtuous Sunling lover and her hot Nightshade one.
Supplying a punchy title but playing no significant role in the actual story, the eponymous flower makes a good emblem for a rambling follow-up that includes lots of angst and stabbing but neither substance nor a coherent storyline. Having stolen Isla’s memories of their forbidden love, the centuries-old, “filthy, deadly—surprisingly attractive—Nightshade” Grim announces that he’ll return in 30 days to destroy the island of Lightlark: “You can choose to flee to your newlands…or join me in a new future.” Complicating matters, Isla’s current beau, the aptly named, equally ancient Oro, is Lightlark’s king. This advance warning of impending doom allows time for Isla to recall in backtracking flashbacks, bit by strung-out, tantalizing bit, how her supposed nemesis is nothing of the sort (which readers of the first volume will already well know). She also fills in the time by struggling to control her newly won magical powers, while setting off to marshal alliances and tour her new lands. Despite a dire prophecy regarding her hunky lovers, a series of increasingly steamy scenes culminate in a spectacularly anticlimactic face-off that exposes one of their motives. Characters are diverse in skin tone.