A woman and her vampire boyfriend face rogue vamps and a looming evil darkness in this third installment of an erotic thriller series.
New Orleans emergency room nurse Erin Hamilton has come to terms with the fact that her lover, Dante Gabriel, is a vampire. But that’s just one of a handful of surprises: Erin learns that her best friend, Lucy, is a wolf shifter while Dante’s father, Julian, who’d been missing, has returned as a ghost. Dante searches for his father’s body so he can file a death certificate and claim Julian’s estate, using the money to fund a translation of the Vampyre Texts. He believes the ancient tome will have answers to his and Erin’s enigmatic blood bond as well as the inexplicable disappearances of patients (with the same blood type) at the hospital where she works. Unfortunately, his grandfather Bill is reluctant to let Dante have the book, certain that it will lead his grandson to “darkness.” As for Erin, her worries start to mount: Lucy mysteriously vanishes and a gang of rogue vampires pursues the nurse, whose scent is evidently “irresistible.” She’s also been experiencing vivid dreams, including the vampire gang cornering her for an obvious assault. Dante, meanwhile, who spent a decade in still-unexplained captivity, hones his unrefined vampiric glamouring skill but may be more powerful than he thinks. The voice of his former captor, the unknown “queen,” occasionally forces its way into Dante’s head, and it’s clear she has a sinister plan brewing.
Hardt’s (Unhinged, 2018, etc.) ongoing saga shows no signs of slowing down. Series-long questions, like the queen’s identity, persistently linger, and the story adds a few mysteries to the mix. Erin discovers a doctor who’d disappeared along with the missing patients, but he remembers very little about the person who beat him and held him hostage. This volume, however, does allot time for supporting characters to take the spotlight. Voodoo priestess and medium Bea, who first appeared in the preceding installment, proves a formidable ally for Erin and Dante. Her spells offer some protection, such as masking Erin’s scent from the rogue vampires. Other characters are forming couples, precipitating engaging subplots (Dante’s sister, Emilia, is pregnant, and childbirth is difficult, sometimes fatal, for female vampires). But the continuing romance between Erin and Dante is the most appealing relationship while the copious sex scenes are erotic and healthy. For example, though Dante becomes gradually more aggressive in bed and Erin is typically submissive, it’s apparent that both partners are willing and content. Many of the mysteries, whether new or carry-overs, are unresolved by this novel’s end, which may frustrate some readers. Nevertheless, suspense remains high throughout, as characters are in all sorts of peril, including the indistinct but unnerving darkness. The author defines this abstract evil simply and persuasively: “An electric bolt jarred me back to normal. The darkness. It was here.”
An enjoyable, laudable addition to an increasingly complicated vampire saga with no end in sight.