Having read few vampire novels other than Christine Feehan’s, many of the plot elements within Dark Need hold a degree of fascination for me and I don’t know if it is because I am not well versed in this sub-genre or if it is truly gifted writing. I am willing to bet it’s the latter because, despite a difficult start, the presence of torture and lots of blood (which I am not fond of), a harsh hero, and a definite lack of romance, I was captured by this story and found it difficult to put down.
Samantha Brown is a homicide detective in Ft. Lauderdale and one tough cop. Years earlier she filed a complaint with Internal Affairs against her partner for sexual harassment and since that time the guys in the department look upon her as a tight ass who’s best left alone. Sam has hardened herself to the job, lives stringently by choice, and does everything in her power to not gain the attention of any man.
Lucan has walked the earth for seven centuries and served as the chief assassin to the Darkyn high lord for most of those years. He can shatter bones, tear flesh, and rend veins with a mere touch of his hands. It is rumored that he will kill and eat a man simply for annoying him. Determined that his service to the high lord is at an end, Lucan has relocated to the U.S. and is leader of the Darkyn community in the Ft. Lauderdale area. Many of the vampires in his area are pillars of respectability and believe he is drawing unwanted attention with his new outrageous nightclub. But Lucan believes he can’t have a more appropriate camouflage than a goth-themed tavern and dance hall – if one is to be a fiend, he might as well flaunt it, and he doesn’t even need a new wardrobe.
Lucan meets Sam when she investigates a murder near his club and he is stunned at her close resemblance to the woman he loved and buried two centuries ago. Within minutes Sam welcomes Lucan’s aggressive sexual advances despite the fact that she doesn’t really want to – or does she? My first true taste of Lucan’s character was during this episode when in frustration he calls Sam “you stupid bitch” while she can only think what a kind and gentle man he is. Yes, it was appalling but it wouldn’t have been as surprising had I read the first book of the series and known of Lucan’s ruthlessness as well as the pull of l’attrait, which draws willing donors to the Darkyn. However, his suitability as a hero is hard to imagine at any point in the book. Lucan is a coldhearted man who has killed repeatedly, often without justification, and appears beyond redemption as he uses anything in his way callously and without conscience.
But there was just something about this story that appealed to me despite its evil hero and the fact that a basically unromantic romance is a far second to the multi-faceted plot line. As Sam discovers that she is inexplicably drawn to Lucan again and again, I wondered if she was truly attracted to him or if he used his Darkyn abilities to force those feelings upon her and I think it was a combination of both. And yes, there were times that Lucan’s extreme bad boy personality drew me in but mostly I found myself fascinated that such a character, who broke nearly all the hero rules, was featured as a romance hero – period. But then I must ask the question “Is this more horror fiction than romance?” And did I really care?
It is easy for Lucan and Sam’s relationship to get lost in the tale of the Darkyn jockeying for positions of power within and defending themselves against those who seek to torture and kill their kind. Many characters from previous books play significant secondary roles with continuing story lines and simply put – this is not a stand-alone book. I relied heavily on the AAR reviews of the first two books to help me understand the plot intricacies and Darkyn jargon. I wanted to read more of Michael and Alexandra from the first book (If Angels Burn) and immediately bought their book and delved into it. It provided needed background as well as motivations of some of the primary characters such as Lucan. Fortunately its numerous descriptions of unimaginable torture are seldom seen in Dark Need.
Sam and Lucan’s attraction for one another was a mystery to me since I never saw much loving action. One particularly rough love scene had me wondering about Sam’s stability in pursuing a relationship that Lucan clearly demonstrates he doesn’t want. Dark Need is primarily Lucan’s story and although he evolves to some extent within these pages, his redemption remains questionable in my mind.
A short lived and unconvincing HEA was not a great concern to me since I don’t believe we have seen the last of Sam and Lucan. Lucan is intricately involved in the overall series plot and I doubt his character will be dropped. And I will continue to follow this series, which is quite a statement for me since I don’t favor violence or vampires. I was engrossed by this tale that made me question my romance requirements and had to ask myself again – was I reading romance? Maybe I just became a fan of a very well written horror series.