Bound By Night
Vampire romances have become passé in recent years, falling out of favor for new and shiny creatures such as demons, angels, werewolves, and the like. Post-Twilight the sub-genre has become rife for mockery and parody and, given some of what has been published, for good reason. I’m pleased to say we finally have a fresh take on the vampire legend that provides a rich, dark world filled with vamps that are equal parts scary and sexy.
The humans have enslaved the vampire race, turning them into domestic servants and medical test subjects. No one is more involved with the latter than Nicole Martin, the survivor of a brutal vampire attack and head of Daedalus Corporation, the foremost vampire research organization. When video of a dozen vampire research subjects dying a horrific death surface, Nicole comes under fire for issuing the execution order. However Nicole never signed the papers and had no prior knowledge of the order to execute the subjects.
Fate is about to bring her straight onto a collision course with Riker, a turned vamp who holds a vendetta against the Martin family for the death of his mate. When a gifted midwife loaned from a rival vampire clan is taken from Riker’s MoonBound clan and sold to Daedalus, Riker is tasked with getting her back. His tactic? Kidnap Nicole Martin and force her to reveal the midwife’s location so that MoonBound may liberate her from the lab. But Riker did not count on an intense attraction to Nicole and the conflicting feelings this attraction evokes within him.
The worldbuilding is strong and unique and provides plenty of conflict to keep the story interesting. Riker and Nicole are at odds from the beginning, having a long history that includes the vampire attack that left Nicole’s family slaughtered and Nicole scarred physically and emotionally. While they are physically attracted to one another, Nicole is terrified of Riker and Riker sees Nicole solely as the means to an end. I appreciated that their relationship develops slowly over the course of the book. There is no “instalove” or pages of mental lusting to endure. Riker does not look at her and think “mine” and become her boyfriend without her consent. They have a lot to work through involving their shared history and their own prejudices regarding each other’s kind.
This is not a light and fluffy paranormal with cutesy creatures who try to be sweet and cuddly. Bound by Night is a gritty paranormal romance/urban fantasy with warring vampire clans and human poachers who will do anything to bring down a vampire for a profit. It takes the reader to uncomfortable places because one can’t help but draw comparisons between the enslavement of the vampire race and the human trafficking which has occurred throughout history and which continues today. From the prologue in which the massacre of Nicole’s family is relayed, throughout the story, the author keeps the sense of peril to the protagonists high.
The true strength of the novel though is Nicole’s characterization and her emotional journey and transformation. She undergoes a transformation from scared and biased against vampires to strong warrior willing to assist MoonBound to rescue the captured midwife. And while terrified of Riker initially, she never is a doormat and is willing to stand up to him and attempt to escape her prison. Her character arc is believable and strong.
At times, Bound by Night suffers from “first book in a series” syndrome, in which some of the story loses its steam while the world is being set up and secondary characters are introduced. I found myself flipping back and forth throughout the book to try to keep everything straight in my mind. The author does an outstanding job of showing and not telling, so I did not mind too much when I had to refer back to the vampire creation legend or to try to determine the role of a secondary character. The secondary characters are all interesting and I hope many of them get their own books in the future.
With the abundance of paranormal romances on the market currently, finding one that does not make me want to roll my eyes or hurl it across the room makes me happy. Bound by Night takes it a step further though, and makes me long for more of this world and these characters.