Earlier this year, I read the first book in the series, Winged Victory, and was captivated by the worldbuilding, the plot, and the characters. One character stood out starkly against the page, Zureillius, the oldest brother. Dark, powerful leader of the Valtar people- a winged vampiric alien race. I was eager for more of his story and was thrilled to see that there was a sequel.
Winged Darkness begins about seven years after the end of the first book. The unthinkable has happened. Traveen and Abbie found peace on an isolated planet and invited others to join them and help colonize it. An addictive illegal quartz is found drawing the attention of blood-thirsty pirates who decimate the world.
A rag tag group of survivors led by Captain Mona de’Lacy journey in a limping ship across space, tracking the pirates who killed or captured their families even as Mona leads them to Valtar, the isolated world of Traveen’s people for help. Mona knows the risks because the planet is closed to outsiders, but she is desperate. Revenge is all that drives her now. Her son and husband, her friend’s child, many others. Dead. Her best friends enduring capture and worse with the pirates. She needs help. And Traveen told her that if things got bad that she was to go to his brother, Zuruillius, the dark ruler of the Valtar.
Zureillius has done the unthinkable and broken the laws of his people. He consumed prohibited blood that has changed him. He is now a powerful ancient barely able to control the wild, volatile nature that comes with the great power and strength. He got his whole family to safety in exile, he saw his brothers find love, and his sister happiness. He is alone. The council plots intrigue against each other and him. He is tired. Zureillius never wanted to rule, but has done his duty to bring his people back from extinction through the secrets Traveen and Abbie gave him.
Now, Zureillius has a determined and courageous human woman consumed by grief and revenge and the young, adorable niece that he never knew he had seeking his protection. Both their lives and the others are at stake, but their mission becomes his own. He will rescue his brother and his brother’s wife and he will help his ‘Hawk’, Mona, achieve her desire.
Mona only wants to feel ice cold and have no emotions to keep her on task and focused, but the male Valtar who insists on coming along and working as her partner is a temptation. She pushes him away and resists as hard as she can, but they both know she is not being honest. Zureillius is convinced that even if he could win over the ghost of Mona’s husband for her affections, that he is too far gone into the crazed darkness of his blood thirst to be safe.
Alright, I was glad to get this sequel and I loved Zureillius. He was as dark and tortured as I could want fighting his own internal war while also working to fight for and protect the others in his care. He is the one who sacrifices and is responsible, always, now it is his turn to get some happiness.
But here’s the thing. I wasn’t real impressed with Mona, Z’s love interest. Mona is so up in her head about her grief, her guilt, her needs that she stupidly rushes into things and puts herself and others in danger multiple times. And like other books, this heroine has a tendency to hit and get rough which is supposed to prove she’s a tough gal or something, but no, use your words, ma’am. And don’t send mixed signals if you don’t want to be pursued and touched. Yeah, she got jealous and harpy like at the same time told Z that she didn’t want him and she was a cold block of ice. And that was the funny part. This chicky was not once the cold, emotionless being she kept telling herself and others she was. Sorry, hot head is more the apt description.
Now, that said, I didn’t hate her. This book was well-written, exciting, and there was plenty of other good stuff going on to keep Mona’s issues from being a determining factor. As I noted before, it’s in the same world as the author’s earlier series, Kasara’s Children. I loved the inclusion of those characters along with Zureillius’ extended family.
I thought the conflict with the pirates went by quickly after the long anticipated confrontation, but it was still intense and action-packed. The focus was definitely on the character and romance development, but not devoid of action. There were side plots and trails that I would love to see pursued in an ongoing series.
All in all, this is well-written sci-fi romance more on the sweeter end of the spectrum, but not lacking for development both in the sci-fi world building or romantic characters.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #335 Sci-Fi Rom
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