After reading the prequel and getting to know the main players in this series, I was eager to plunge in and get the full story. The Prince, his people, the traitor in the midst, the Prince’s revenge against the Emersons…oh yes, I was ready.
The story opens a few years after the prequel. The Prince had his eyes set on the Emersons and getting revenge against them because they purchased his stolen art. He was distracted by an assassination attempt and a vampyre war. But emerging the victor, he is now back to finishing his vengeance. Until one night, he is distracted by the scent of the most delicious blood he has encountered.
Raven loves her work restoring art and enjoys her life in Florence with her few good friends and few simple pleasures. She will never find the great love of her life since she has vision issues, is overweight, and has a physical disability caused by her foot not healing well from a past incident that she doesn’t like to think about. Then one night, she sees a bunch of drunk bullies assaulting a homeless man and she intervenes only to have them turn on her. Raven thinks she will be raped and killed for her act of heroism.
The Prince sees the woman cornered by the human attackers and it brings back a vivid memory of another young woman that he was unable to save. The memory is so strong that it compels him to intervene in human affairs for the first time in centuries. He risks so much because if his people knew, they would realize he had a weakness. Amongst his kind, having a weakness is deadly particularly when there are already those who would bring him down for his place as the leader. But to his surprise and frustration, the human woman is far from grateful and quite stubborn after he saved her life and kept her safe.
Raven has lost of week of her life and has altered so much physically that no one recognizes her. Her physical defects are gone. But with all this mystery comes the suspicion that she is responsible for the theft of the Emerson’s collection at the museum because it disappeared around the same time she left work before her week long absence. And what does the enigmatic stranger in the dark have to do with it all. Raven believes only what can be proven by science only she discovers that there may be a whole world out there beyond the scope of science. And that world includes creatures of the dark who both terrify her and one specific one attracts her more than she wants to admit. He doesn’t believe he can love and she can’t go without it.
Alright, so I was very excited to read this one. I wasn’t far into it when I realized that the shine had worn off quickly. I was no longer excited. And then I was barely interested. Why is this?
It had one of those heroines. You know the kind- the princess in the tower, the ugly duckling that is really a swan, the hapless girl tied to the railroad tracks at the end of each episode. Sigh…she wears her heart on her sleeve, has some stupid-stubborn going on, wants the moon and wants it now, has some mystic quality not apparent to me the reader that draws in a complicated powerful centuries-old being. Raven drove me nuts because more than half the book was her getting into danger, him rescuing her and giving her advice to keep her safe, her ignoring it because it wasn’t her idea and how dare he tell her what to do, her leaping to conclusions and leaping into naive actions, and of course never believing a word he said even with the evidence before her. Raven, bless her heart, was exhausting.
I don’t hate her. It would be like hating a kitten. She was the instigation for William finding his new-found conscience. However, Raven has poor self-image and is constantly doubting anything positive said about her and has a crusader complex. She had this attitude that William owed her all his secrets and must change all his thinking…now or I’m out the door, William (he’s 700 years old and lived quite the life, but she knows best of course). But of course, her secrets and past, those were off the table, and she actually gets pissy because he had to do a trade-off to hear them. I always felt like William was a curiosity and project for her and not a true love interest. She didn’t respect him and she didn’t know him. She knew what he should be by her rules (and this is not a knock against her beliefs just that she really had the arrogance of youth thing going for her a black and white limited outlook). On occasion, I read a book and see an entirely different pairing that fits better in my mind and this is one of them. Raven is touted as the light to William’s darkness which is undeniably true, but for me the true chemistry was when William was with Aoibhe. She matched him better.
So here’s the thing. I could have really gotten into this book sans Raven. There was vampyre political intrigue with a traitor in the midst and the constant contention for power, the vampyre hunters released into the city with their worthy weapons, the Curia group who ‘protect’ humans still a shadowy threat, the personal tension between William and Aoibhe, and even William’s issue with his art collection being taken and eventually in the hands of the Emersons. So much there to make for a good gritty story.
I was distracted and even bored at times. I set this book aside more than once when I felt it was either circling back over the same ground or taking too long to get to something interesting. I read on because I was curious about certain parts and that romance between William and Raven wasn’t one of them. Usually, the romance is my favorite part, but in this case, I could have done without it. This is the first segment of a series and this book ends with much of the plot left in a to be continued spot. I’m not sure if I’ll press forward.
As to a recommend, this might have appeal to Urban Fantasy lovers who enjoy a slower paced piece, a fantastic setting in Florence and the artworld, and an intriguing brooding hero.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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