Published 2011 325 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Jillian Conrad never believed in vampires. But she’s just become a living, breathing weapon against them. Attacked by a desperate scientist, she is injected with a serum that was supposed to act as a deadly poison to vampires. And when the scientist is gunned down in front of her, his secrets die with him.
Declan Reese was only half-vampire, but he hates them with all his heart. He knows that the poison in Jillian’s veins could finally destroy the undead kingdom. Also, the serum has had an unintended effect, making her blood irresistible to all vampires—including Declan, whose bloodthirsty traits are driven into a frenzy by her.
Driven by duty to protect her and by instinct to crave her, Declan takes Jillian into his shadowy world of blood and battle. But he soon realizes his increasing need for her may be a different kind of hunger…
Nightshade is the first book in an exciting new vampire series by award-winning paranormal romance author, Michelle Rowen. Michelle’s previous offerings include the light-hearted Immortality Bites vampire romance series and the Living in Eden fantasy romance series. Nightshade has a strong vein of dark fantasy running through it and although it has the words “paranormal romance” printed on its spine, it’s closer to urban fantasy romance in terms of style, pacing and content. Oh, and it’s a seriously good read too…
Nightshade is a world away from the fun (and fairly harmless) vampires of the Immortality Bites books. This is a whole new world of vampires, ones driven by a lust for sex, blood and violence. The sun literally melts their eyes out of their heads so they live underground with their blood servants, hidden away from the human population who are generally blissfully unaware of their existence. Jill is thrust into the vampire world when a chance encounter with a scientist from her office building (who takes her hostage before injecting her with an untested and unknown serum) leaves her with blood that is an irresistible, yet fatal, poison to all vampires. At that point her life ceases to be her own: the vampire hunters want to use her blood as weapon against the vampires while any vampire she comes into contact with wants to drain her dry. To protect Jill, the vampire hunter Declan kidnaps her with the intention of getting her medical help at the hunter’s secret facility.
Initially the romance in Nightshade gets off to a slow start. Declan isn’t an inviting romantic hero – his physical demeanour and bad facial scarring is nearly as off-putting as his inhumanly brusque and remote personality. He is a dhampyr – a human/vampire hybrid – and has to take a special serum regularly to stop the more undesirable vampire traits, such as the lust for sex, blood and violence, from taking over his personality. However, it isn’t long before he loses his serum… at which point he becomes a much more attractive romantic proposition and the story really starts to take off.
Jill narrates the story in first person with wit and warmth. Her character is likable and believable – reacting with disbelief and fear, like any normal woman would, when pushed into such a fantastic and dangerous situation. Unlike the heroines of most urban fantasy novels, she doesn’t want to be a hero and isn’t suddenly transformed into a crusading vampire hunter by her discovery of the vampire world. This makes her character, and the story, seem much more credible. However, the story wouldn’t be exciting if Jill wasn’t brave – so she doesn’t hesitate to step-up in order to save herself or people she cares about.
Nightshade gets Michelle Rowen’s new urban fantasy romance series off to a great start. Dangerous vampires, evil scientists and sexy thrills make Nightshade not just a hugely enjoyable book but a just about unputdownable one too. The story’s fast pacing quickly hooking readers into the story, making a one- or two-sitting reading a distinct possibility. As a fan of dark fantasy romance I found this book to be a moreish treat – which I quickly devoured and instantly wanted more.
LoveVampires Review Rating: