This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Released on March 11, 2012
Breathtaking and gripping are not words I use lightly when I describe this book. It is a sleeper in many ways until near the end. It is a beautiful and tender love story throughout between a fantastic hero and heroine and then…oh and then I was left shaking from all the conflicting emotions it inspired in the end. My only hope of recovery is the fact that I know this is part of a series and it doesn’t end where it did. As it is, my poor heart and emotions are as bruised as the heroine’s right now. She’s a scrappy one though and her strength gives me strength (I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s all I’ve got right now).
Sophie Galen works as an advice columnist for a mid-size city paper. She truly believes in her work and puts everything she has into it. She really does hope to save people and works hard at this through her job and in her personal life. Her past is littered with loss and what she terms her failures. She has survived her twin younger brothers and her parents’ deaths. This has left her pulled back from committing to others. Only one friend who is nearly family to her is left, Jared, now a priest who is a shining light such as herself. Jared is always there for her and his comforting words and advice help, but there are some things that go beyond what he can offer. After the suicide of one of those who wrote to her for advice and would not listen to her advice to seek professional help, Sophie needs to go someplace peaceful to gather herself. Sophie’s steps take her to the Egyptian exhibits at the museum.
It is while studying her favorite goddess, Isis, that Sophia meets the stunningly handsome and mysterious Marek. She does something she hasn’t done for years. Sophie doesn’t pull away when Marek shows a little interest by asking to walk through the exhibit together. The afternoon and conversation were wonderful and Sophie decides to step cautiously forward and embrace this tentative thing with Marek when he wants to see her again.
What begins small, blossoms into something deeper, richer and so much more than she could have possibly imagined. Even confronted by the fact that Marek isn’t even human and there is more out there in the world besides humans, Sophie still wants to continue pursuing the strengthening connection with Marek. Marek is tender, protective, possessive and everything in between to Sophie and she knows that it is all very real for both of them.
But their love affair is not in isolation. Sophie learns of the dangers that are also hidden in the dark and she sees that Marek is one of the defenders protecting both his race and hers from what would harm them. She also grows close to Marek’s brother and his family. She is pleased at their acceptance of her just as she accepts them into her life too.
Just when she thinks that her life couldn’t get any more perfect and that happiness is within her grasp, it is all shattered. Does she have what it takes to come back from this heartbreaking and horrendous loss?
So yes, I loved everything about this story even when it tore me up inside so that I just sat there filling a tissue with my tears (hint- even you tough people may need the tissue box near by). So much was working in this one. The plot offered up a bit of everything- humor, intrigue, romance, friendship and family, the philosophical, passion, danger, agony, and hope. It starts off slow and gentle and then just builds- and keeps building until that climax crashed like a huge tidal wave.
The creative worldbuilding in this one captures the attention as being something slightly different. The explanation is founded in Egyptian Mythology which always grabs my attention. There are humans who are blissfully unaware of the other species around them. There are the big baddies who are out for blood and power and they’re the Fallen- truly and fully vampire. Then there are the weres who are rough in their practices, but are slightly on the side of right. Finally, there are the demimonde or DV as Sophie calls them. They are vampires who haven’t fallen and lost their souls. Sophie is something special and I’ll leave that a surprise. Something tells me the other books will reveal even more than what this one did.
Now, the characters… Sophie (not just b/c we share a terrif name) is a wonderful heroine. She is strong. Not physically and certainly couldn’t defend herself amongst all the others out there, but her strength lies in her resiliency and her strong sense of light and hope. Sophie just gives and gives trying to help others. She believes in people when she can’t even believe in herself. And in spite of her losses, she loves fiercely. She loves her friend Jared, she loves Marek’s family and deepest of all, she loves Marek.
This story is told entirely from Sophie’s POV and is first person. This does not affect the ability to get to know Marek. Sophie loves him and sees the good in him, but she is not delusioned about him. She accepts him as he is. She knows he’s dark, but it was beautiful to see her light chasing out his dark. Marek may be dark and he may have the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he sees in Sophie what she can’t see in herself. She sees herself as a failure whereas he sees her as his savior and the love of his life.
This story just sizzles with electricity between Sophie and Marek. Their passion and love is palpable even when the romance is a fade to black sort when it comes to the physical. What struck me about this is that the writing is so strong that it didn’t need the details of the physical relationship to sell the story. The romance and the emotions it inspired were enough and not lacking though I know there will be some disappointed folks who wanted to see the gorgeous, sensual and powerful Marek in action (guilty as charged).
So in the end, I soared with this book and I look forward to what is to come with this series. Fans of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance need to add this one to their lists. Powerful stuff, people!