UNHINGED by Helen Hardt


From the "Blood Bond Saga" series, volume 2
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In this erotic thriller sequel, a New Orleans vampire and his human lover struggle to understand their enigmatic but undeniably strong bond.

Dante Gabriel and Erin Hamilton’s first time together culminates in her consenting to the vampire biting her neck and consuming her blood. But coming out of her euphoric haze, Erin is disconcerted by the full realization that her lover is a vampire. Though she steers clear of “the V word,” she can’t deny their mutual allure. This, according to Dante, is a blood bond, an occurrence so rare that information on it is scarce. The Vampyre Texts may explain it, but Dante’s grandfather Bill hasn’t yet finished the translation. But why has it been so long since anyone has translated the ancient tome? That’s just one of the countless mysteries challenging the couple. Erin, for one, has bite marks on her thigh and doesn’t know where they’re from, which likely means a vampire—most assuredly not Dante—has attacked her. There are also patients disappearing from University Hospital, where Erin, an emergency room nurse, works. She connects the missing patients by blood: They’re B positive, the same type the hospital keeps running out of. And though she’s trying to accept that vampires exist, Erin soon encounters more of the supernatural, including ghosts and, maybe, werewolves. Dante, meanwhile, is still recovering from his decade of captivity, courtesy of a female vampire known only as the queen. Her voice is constantly in Dante’s head, insisting she retains control of him.

As in the preceding novel, Hardt’s (Unchained, 2018, etc.) second installment, though split into three parts, is one cohesive story. In fact, this book picks up immediately following the earlier one, carrying over mysteries ranging from Erin’s inexplicable bite marks to the still-unknown queen. The couple’s relationship shows unmistakable progress: While the first book teased their inevitable sex, Dante and Erin now face entirely new hurdles post-coitus. The most striking example is Bill’s claim that if their blood bond is broken, both will die. The author’s simple, concise prose sets an impressive pace. Succinct but descriptive details make periodic scenes in the ER exhilarating, as Erin and fellow nurses or doctors need to make quick decisions. Similarly, brevity during the explicit sex scenes amps up passion: The two are so desperate for each other that they typically forgo foreplay, leading to a fair share of thrusting and animalistic growling. The story grounds much of the supernatural elements, making the highlighted romance more believable. Dante, for instance, stresses that vampire myths are generally baseless (vamps are born and can’t transform humans by biting them). And, like others of his kind, he is akin to humans. It’s consequently amusing when this vampire hero doesn’t seem to believe in ghosts. Along with spirits, Hardt adds numerous mysteries in the second volume and leaves quite a few questions unanswered. Nevertheless, there’s some resolution (for example, the fates of Dante’s father and uncle, who vanished while searching for their abducted relative) and plenty of material for the third book.

An electric, often tantalizing installment enhances this vampire series.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-64263-014-5
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Waterhouse Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2019


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