Sluggish pacing and an overwhelming number of characters will once again test fans’ devotion to this paranormal-romance series.
When readers last saw Aden Stone, he’d been turned into a vampire by his girlfriend, vampire princess Victoria, in a desperate attempt to save him after being stabbed by his best friend Mary Ann’s ex-boyfriend Tucker, who was being controlled by Victoria’s father, Vlad the Impaler. Yes, really. The soap opera continues as Aden and Victoria nearly kill each other by cross-feeding their blood back and forth. As Aden’s vampiric powers increase, Victoria becomes more human, losing her mind-controlling voice, teleportation abilities and diamond-hard skin—but gaining empathy and a truly tender heart. Meanwhile, Mary Ann has fled to Tulsa, Okla., (demonic Tucker and devoted shape-shifter Riley following close behind) to research the three supernaturally powered souls living in Aden’s consciousness, hoping to purge them from his mind. Both Aden and Mary Ann face a variety of brutal vengeance-seekers, including Victoria’s long-lost brother Sorin, witches, fairies and, once again, Vlad the Impaler. Showalter’s strength is in playing with conventions of various paranormal mythologies. Plotting and cast management, not so much: The pace here might charitably be called stately, while her cast of characters threatens to spill out of these overstuffed pages.