Hearts In Darkness
First published 2001 278 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Life has never been so insane for Private Investigator Nikki James: a teenager is missing; a madman is kidnapping the wealthy; she's got a vampire to contend with; and her partner and best friend, Jake, is in the hospital dying. And just when it seems like nothing else could possibly go wrong for her, Michael Kelly returns.
The last thing Michael needs is a confrontation with Nikki - especially when his control over his bloodlust is still so tenuous. But when a kidnapper steps up his agenda to murder, they are suddenly forced into a partnership. Soon Michael discovers the biggest danger may not be from his need to 'taste' Nikki, but from his desire to make her a permanent part of his life - a life that is sure to get her killed. Nikki is determined to make Michael see that life apart is worse than death. But before she can make him see the light, a spectre from Michael's past rises that could destroy any hope she has of a future with him.
Hearts In Darkness is the second novel in Keri Arthur’s Nikki and Michael vampire romance series. Originally published in 2001 by US publisher ImaJinn Books, this 2008 edition has been released for the UK market, so if you think that the story sounds familiar but don’t recognise the cover it is possible that you may have read it before in its original edition…
The Nikki and Michael novels are serial romances, each book features the same main protagonists (Nikki, a psychic private investigator and Michael a 360 year old vampire who investigates supernatural crimes) and with each story their relationship develops a little further, so it really is necessary to read these books in order.
The story of Hearts In Darkness follows on from a few months after where Dancing With The Devil finished. Nikki has recovered from the physical injuries that she sustained in the course of slaying Jasper, the evil vampire who was preying on teenagers in her home town of Lyndhurst, but she is still saddened by the hole that Michael’s absence has caused in her heart. Putting Michael behind her, Nikki concentrates on her job as a PI but when the teenaged boy that she has been hired to watch is kidnapped by vampires she is soon thrown back into the path of Michael.
Working together Nikki and Michael face various supernatural threats, from melting vampires to re-animated trophy brides, as they track down the missing teenager and get down to solving the mysteries of a spate of disappearances at a luxury resort in Jackson Hole. Romantic tension is provided by Michael’s reluctance to let Nikki into his dangerous life and Nikki’s determination to make him see that the love they share is worth the risk.
The only criticism for this novel is that I think it could have benefited from better editing since the overuse of the words “evil” and “kinetic” start to grate after a while. “Kinetic” is used to describe Nikki’s telekinesis, a power that she frequently uses throughout the story and “the sense of evil” is a catch-all phrase that seems to be used anytime the villain of the piece appears.
Still, don’t let my griping put you off this book. Hearts In Darkness makes a good sequel to Dancing With The Devil, progressing the overall story arc in interesting ways. It is a fairly short novel and with its fast paced supernatural action and mystery plotline it makes a quick, but satisfying, read. The well-balanced mixture of romance and fantasy works to good effect, ensuring that this book should appeal to both fantasy and romance fans.
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