My Demon's Kiss
I like my vampire heroes to embrace their dark side, to accept their vampire nature, however, the hero of My Demon’s Kiss fights against his every step of the way, and for good reason, he viciously kills a friend immediately after becoming a vampire. The romanticized version of vampires is not present here, no sir. A warning for those squeamish over blood shed, in the first chapter, many people die in graphic detail. This is also not your typical romance novel, as the ending leaves all the ends loose. A sequel is in the works.
Simon is a knight to Sir Francis, who rescued Simon’s father from a terrible master, and from that point on, Simon pledged his life to Sir Francis. When Sir Francis goes on Crusade in the Holy Land, Simon goes with him. A heathen lord approaches Sir Francis with a very tempting offer, marry his daughter, and the lord will turn the entire province over to Sir Francis and Christianity. Sir Francis is not young any longer and accepts the offer. It is the last decision he will ever make.
Lucian Kivar is an ancient, evil, and powerful vampire. What he really wants are English knights under his control to do his bidding in order to find the Chalice, a sacred relic that will give him unlimited power. When the “wedding” guests arrive, Simon realizes something is wrong when the bride, Roxanne, cries blood. She herself hates Kivar, but cannot stop the slaughter that follows. After seeing his beloved mentor struck down, Simon fights like a man possessed, and manages to kill Kivar, but not before Kivar bites him and forces some of his own blood into Simon, thus damning him forever.
Roxanne and her protector, a dwarf wizard named Orlando, convince Simon that the Chalice can restore his humanity, and he must find it before Kivar’s evil spirit can obtain it. Ten years later, Simon is still looking for the Chalice. His latest stop is a castle called Charmot.
Lady Isabel misses her father dreadfully. A devoted scholar, he was the only parent Isabel ever knew. After his death, when the king sent a suitor, she devised the “Black Knight” to fight and terrorize any further hopefuls away from her home. However, her Black Knight, one of her father’s warriors, is growing old and will no longer be able to champion Charmot without being hurt or killed. A new suitor has threatened to take the castle, and Isabel worries for her people’s future. When Simon shows up stating he is her distant cousin and then fights the Black Knight without hurting him, she decides he may be her best hope for protecting Charmot from other suitors.
Simon merely wants to examine Sir Gabriel’s writings and catacombs for the Chalice, but Isabel draws him in with her innocence and spirit. She has cared for her people for years without interference and done very well by them. Simon is fascinated and cannot keep his distance. Lucky for Isabel he has learned better control of his vampire nature. She wonders at Orlando’s protective nature regarding Simon and the mysterious “curse” that Simon says haunts his days and prevents him from eating.
In an almost TSTL manner, she disregards Simon’s warnings and attempts to seek his help during the day, never knowing how close she comes to death. She engages in other blatantly disrespectful actions too, but manages to redeem her behavior after concrete evidence that something is very wrong with Simon. She also fails to recognize Simon’s innate goodness even when faced with something that is very recognizably evil. This did not improve her character in my eyes.
What did help, though, is Isabel steps up with Simon to protect her people when his quest places those at Charmot in grave danger. Once she realizes what Simon is truly facing, she stands by him even though her own life could be lost. Simon is a noble and true knight, and fights his vampire nature the best he can, while trying to protect others. His character was much more compelling than Isabel’s, which left the story somewhat lopsided in my mind.
The ending did not provide the resolution I was hoping for between Simon and Isabel in any meaningful way and left me with more questions than answers. One of the topics discussed in Anne Marble’s Paranormal ATBF this past November had to do with vampires who struggle for a cure. Some readers like this – I am one who generally does not. Although Simon intrigued me and I enjoyed his character, his personal crusade, along with Isabel’s issues, worked against the book and I doubt I’ll pick up its sequel.