I’m something of a sucker for Sherrilyn Kenyon. Although I don’t believe this is the strongest book in Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series – mainly due to confusion with her background mythology – I still had a great time reading about Vane and Bride. It was also refreshing to have a “less than perfect” heroine, and a hero who loves her madly anyway.
A terrible disaster struck Vane Kattalakis; his sister and her “children” died and his brother became a wolf, permanently. Oh, by the way, Vane and his family are Were-Hunters, or more specifically, Katagaria: humans who have the hearts and souls of animals. In other words, their animal hearts rule their reactions. Katagaria are more at peace in their animal form, and only turn into their human form at puberty. All of their childhood is spent in their natural animal form. Their mortal enemies are the flipside of the coin, so to speak – the Arcadians. The Arcadians spend their childhood as humans, and then can turn into animals at puberty. They are more at home as humans, and are regarded as humans that can turn into animals, but retain human hearts and souls. Their human emotions rule their decisions. Both races were created by Arcadia’s King Lycaon in response to learning his beloved wife was an Apollite, and destined to die on her 27th birthday. Once he realized his sons would have the same fate, he used magic in an attempt to extend their lives. The gods became angry and ordered their death, and all like them. When Lycaon refused, the Fates cursed both races, and sent the goddess Discordia to forever make them enemies.
Vane, at his father’s bidding, is being hunted by members of his own pack. He hides his brother Fang at a neutral spot owned by other neutral Katagaria. Everyone is welcome, human or otherwise, as long as no one causes trouble. Vane is determined to keep Fang safe in his comatose wolf form, which was caused by severe trauma – again inflicted (indirectly) by their father. About eight months after his sister’s death, as he walks to clear his head, he notices Bride McTierney, a friend of Sunshine Runningwolf, whom he protected for a Dark Hunter friend eight months earlier. It was that favor that led to all of Vane’s current trevails, although harbors no bad feelings toward Sunshine and Talon (of Night Embrace). Vane feels an unusual immediate attraction to Bride, and goes into into her jewelry shop. He can tell she is extremely upset, and buys a necklace to cheer her up, berating himself the whole time for being attracted to a human.
Bride was just dumped by her crappy boyfriend, mostly because she is overweight, and is in the “all men are pigs” phase of anger. When this incredibly gorgeous man enters her shop and buys her a necklace, she has no idea what to think. She bursts into tears. When Vane comforts her, they are both overcome with lust and have mind-blowing sex in the backroom of her store. Bride is rather freaked out after her first “one-night” stand, and doesn’t feel right asking Vane for his phone number or address. When her friend comes to pick her up, she feels relief and sorrow when Vane leaves.
For his part, Vane is incredibly attracted to Bride, but is under a death sentence and doesn’t want to endanger her life. Plus, since his people are at war with the Arcadians, and at times he hunts Daimons (evil vampires), he could bring terrible danger to Bride. However, fate has other plans for him. When the mating mark appears on his hand, he knows he is doomed. For the Arcadians and Katagaria, a mark appears on their hand when they have been mated. They have three weeks to voluntarily bring their mate to them, or they will in essence be castrated. For the females who lose their one true mate, they become frigid and sterile. In Bride’s case, since she is human, she will never know she has lost her only potential mate, but there would be no other consequences for her. But Vane doesn’t look forward to becoming a eunuch.
Vane must go to Bride to woo her; he chooses to go in his wolf form to stay with her in her home and try and figure things out. Bride likes the stray dog she has found, but when Vane also re-enters her life and wants to begin dating her, she has no idea why a sexy, gorgeous man would want someone like her. And why are Vane and her new dog never in the same place?
Vane’s enemies catch up with him, and characters from many of the previous books in this series show up to support him in his effort to protect Bride. She knows a few of them already, as their lives have already begun to intertwine. Bride slowly realizes things are not at all what they seem with Vane, but having known some immortals herself, she does her best to accept him.
This book has some great lines because Bride has a sarcastic sense of humor, and isn’t afraid to stand up for her loved ones. She has more issues involving her self esteem, but isn’t afraid to protect Vane from his psychotic parents. The teamwork between them is an integral part of the story, even when Bride believes she isn’t worthy of Vane. The secondary characters were fun to re-visit, and Fury and Valerius should definitely have their own books.
As I said, the weakness here is the mythology explanation about the Katagaria and Arcadians which is doled out slowly, in pieces, so it wasn’t until much later in the book that I understood all of Vane’s fears about having a relationship. The initial explanation at the beginning of the book didn’t even begin to cover what was really going on, which was unfortunate for the overall understanding of Vane and his family’s motivations. In spite of that, however, I enjoyed the book enough to recommend it to fans of this series. If you haven’t read any of these books, this is not the one to begin with, though. Any of the other Dark Hunter books would be a better choice, especially my favorite, Dance with the Devil. Someday I hope to see Acheron’s own story too, as the bits and pieces revealed about him are getting more tantalizing with each installment!