A college student falls for the mysterious owner of a manor in this first installment of a paranormal romance series.
Katelyn Corbin, 21, surrenders to an “unseen force” in a recurring dream she’s had since the murder of her parents. When Katelyn arrives on the campus of her new school, the “open gash” in her soul attracts the protection of enigmatic, handsome, and wealthy College of Charleston patron James Thomas Dubois. Katelyn quickly forms a strong attachment to James, whose long hair looks “more European than American.” Ever the gentleman, he includes Katelyn’s new dorm roommate and best friend, Alexis “Lexi” Gordon, on excursions to his lavish home, Whitehall Manor, a huge colonial plantation that he lovingly restored. James reveals his true nature as well as his growing feelings for Katelyn during a visit to his old friend Charlotte Ann in New York City: “I want so much to give her the gift,” James says of Katelyn. Back on the Whitehall grounds, a snake bites Katelyn, and James saves her life with his blood. Soon James reveals all to her. A long session of sweet sex later, she must decide between James’ two offers—amnesia or his gift of immortal life—not knowing her choice will directly affect whether Lexi lives or dies. The eerie opening dream sequence in Veal’s (James’ Journey, 2016, etc.) novel creates a sexy inevitability (“All of a sudden I became aware of an unseen entity close by, sharing the darkness with me. It radiated an invisible strength, as if someone, or something, was standing right beside me”). But the promising tale, which paints an evocative portrait of a conflicted heroine, runs aground because of vague descriptions and narrative repetitions. For example, Katelyn observes of James, “Everything about him spoke of great wealth but a nicely subdued manner,” without providing vivid details. Single events are rendered multiple times. Katelyn and James’ first lovemaking episode is recounted first in real time, second via her inner dialogue, and third via another intellectual rehash. While informational, the repetitions deflate the building tension and slow down this intriguing, otherworldly story.
An enticing supernatural plot with an initially frisky pace hampered by excessive exposition.