Dancing With The Devil
First published: 2001 294 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Having grown up on the tough streets of Lyndhurst, Private Investigator Nikki James believes there is nothing left to surprise her. That changes the night she follows teenager Monica Trevgard into the shadows and becomes a pawn caught in a war between two very different men. One fills her mind with his madness; the other pushes his way into her heart. Nikki knows how dangerous love can be but, if she wants to survive, she must place her trust in a man who could destroy her.
For 300 years, Michael Kelly has existed in the shadows, learning to control his vampiric death cravings. Nikki not only breaches his formidable barriers with her psychic abilities, but makes Michael believe he may finally have found a woman strong enough to walk by his side. Will his love be enough to protect her from a madman hell-bent on revenge? Or will the secrets they keep from each other prove to be the greatest threat of all?
Dancing With The Devil is the first book in Keri Arthur’s Nikki and Michael vampire series. Keri Arthur is more famous for the series of Riley Jenson Guardian urban fantasy books that she has written and it is perhaps the popularity of the later (Guardian) series that has prompted the release of her earlier Nikki and Michael paranormal romance works in the UK. (These books were originally published by ImaJinn books in 2001 in the USA.)
Dancing With The Devil follows the events in private investigator Nikki James’s life when she unwittingly becomes the target of an evil vampire (Jasper) on killing spree in her home town of Lyndhurst, located somewhere in the USA. As a reader I never could work out exactly where Lyndhurst was supposed to be and never really got the feeling that it was a real place – it just seems to be a generic town that serves as the location for this book.
Nikki has psychic abilities and they are dropped into the story in pretty much the same way, with little detail or explanation. She just is psychic. While her ability serves as the plot device for why Jasper is so keen on killing her (it would enable him to access her powers) the matter of fact presentation of her amazing psychic skills could use a little more background and writers polish.
Dancing With The Devil might have benefited from tighter editing too since there are a couple of places where the story directly contradicts itself and this is not just me being picky, they are pretty big contradictions. For example, Nikki decides to go vampire hunting on her own since she is miffed at being left out of the hunt. After seeing the fledgling vampire spontaneously combust in the sunlight (as a result of her own actions) she later berates her boss about leaving her behind and follows by thinking “If they’d been here with her, [the fledgling vampire] might still be alive.” To which this reader replies, “Well no, Nikki, she wouldn’t. She was already long dead – undead in fact – and you left home with the express intention of slaying her!”
The contradictions and lack of background or fantasy world building can soon be forgiven though as it leaves the resulting romance fast paced and tightly plotted. There is plenty of action and excitement provided by Jasper and his undead minions as Nikki teams up with Michael to stop the vampire from killing any more innocent people.
While Michael is the heroic vampire of this story, he has his own reasons for wanting Jasper dead and Nikki is a distraction he can’t afford. The resulting romantic conflict between the pair makes for a satisfying and engaging romance that shouldn’t fail to please most vampire romance fans and will surely have them seeking out Hearts In Darkness the next book in this series.
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