I’ve read some of Shayne’s novels about witches and was very impressed with her writing, so I was excited to read Demon’s Kiss, the first book in a new vampire trilogy. The story began strongly, with intelligent writing and an exciting plot, but became increasingly less enjoyable as time went on. Unfortunately, I was much more interested in the secondary characters than the main couple and, had these secondary characters not been included, I would have graded this considerably lower.
The oldest and most influential vampires hire an assassin named Reaper to hunt down a rogue leader and kill him. Having rogues running wild, killing innocent humans and leaving the bodies to be found, puts the vampire community in danger. Reaper was an assassin for the CIA in life and continues to take out dangerous individuals in his afterlife. He expects a typical mission, but the Chosen human to whom he’s connected suddenly needs his help.
Shayne puts her own twist on the sun-shunning crowd. Only Chosen humans can become vampires. These individuals have a rare blood type that includes an antigen called Belladonna. This blood type causes easy and sometimes excessive bleeding, which continues into the afterlife. Vampires aren’t staked; they usually die by simply bleeding out, which happens quickly. If a vampire gets hurt, they must be able to make it until the sun sleep, when their body will regenerate and heal itself. They also feel pain and pleasure much more acutely than humans. In addition, every vampire has a stronger bond with one of the human Chosen, a bond that continues into vampirehood.
Reaper is connected to a young man named Seth. When a group of thugs beats Seth to death, Reaper shows up right as he is checking out. He asks Seth to make the choice of dying or becoming a vampire and Seth suddenly flashes on a redhead that he has dreamt about. He feels like he needs to continue living and find the girl, so he chooses vampirism. Reaper doesn’t exactly want Seth to come with him, but there isn’t much of a choice. Along the way to finding the rogues (and Seth’s girl), a few more people latch on to their group.
When Seth finds his girl, she is being held captive by the rogues, a helpful coincidence. Her name is Vixen and as time goes on, Seth feels more and more connected to her. He rescues her and begins trying to win her over, but it is clear that she’s something of an odd duck. One by one, the group starts figuring out that Vixen is truly a vixen. She is a shapeshifter who takes the form of a fox, but since the rogue leader captured her and turned her into a vampire, she hasn’t been able to hold the fox shape for long. Her abilities are quite unique, however, which is the reason the rogues held her.
While the idea of Vixen is certainly intriguing, the character herself was one of the biggest downfalls of the book. I really didn’t like her. Before she became a vampire, Vixen could spend several hours as a fox. She didn’t like human emotions, so she avoided them, as well as people, and tried to be an animal as often as possible. I just couldn’t get on board with someone who would rather chase mice and frisk about than have friends or experience intense emotions. There wasn’t any reason, any prior bad emotional event that made Vixen avoid attachments; she simply would rather be an animal, and for this reason, I found her relationship with Seth very unconvincing. The connection between the two is understandable, but the transformation from connection to love just isn’t there.
Demon’s Kiss had a strong start, with some strong character development and an interesting plot. However, the romance was poorly done and one of the main characters annoyed me. The ending was also completely out of tone with the rest of the book and so cheesy that it had me continually rolling my eyes and muttering “Oh jeez.” However, I’m really interested in the other two couples and Shayne’s writing is strong, so I’ll probably pick up the next book in the series.