Return to Me
With so many paranormal romances being published, it’s hard to find plots and characters that are original and fresh. Julia Templeton’s Return to Me is fresh, due mainly to the secondary romance of the hero’s homosexual brother. Templeton has taken a chance here – and it works.
Darius MacLeod, a 14th century Scot, would have died fighting in the Battle of Bannockburn if not for his vampire creator Remont. Remont changes him at the urging of his lover, Darius’s brother Demetri. Darius eventually comes to grips with his new life mainly because of his devotion to his wife Rose and their unborn baby. Unfortunately, Rose figures out what he has become and in fear causes her own death. Darius, in his anguish, would have soon killed himself if not for the care of his brother and maker. At their urging, they all visit 1818 London for a vacation of sorts and Darius comes across Gabrielle Fairmont at a ball, believing her to be his reincarnated wife.
Gabrielle’s mother was a witch who could read people’s thoughts and heal their pain. Gabrielle inherited this same talent and tends to talk to her mother in her head. Her uncle and guardian is a drunken gambler; he sold her into marriage to the sadistic Viscount of Sutherland, who has already gone though three wives. Gabrielle mistakenly reads her fiancé’s disturbing sexual thoughts and tries to escape his clutches during the same ball Darius attends. Darius helps her to get away, and at his townhouse convinces her that she is his dead wife. Gabrielle is all too willing to believe Darius and, overcome with lust for each other, they engage in some steamy lovemaking for the next few chapters. Darius realizes they can’t hide out for too long, because Sutherland is lurking around ready to kill him and kidnap Gabrielle. Along with Demetri and Remont, they return to his family castle in Scotland.
Darius and Gabrielle are both up front about their feelings and discuss whether Darius should make Gabrielle a vampire as well as her fears of being taken from Darius’s arms. Gabrielle’s constant mind talk with her mother and her “Little Mary Sunshine” attitude were annoying early on, but to my relief, this proclivity was toned down as the book went along.
My true delight was the on-going romance between Demetri and Remont. Even though Remont is the much older and wiser of the two, he had major issues about their relationship, for Demetri is what I would call an undead Duke of Slut. Watching these two men work through their relationship problems was very enjoyable and it was a shame that their story couldn’t have been up front rather than that of Darius and Gabrielle.
There is a little bit of everything in Return to Me. I was glad I encountered these characters and I look forward to Templeton’s next work in the hope that she will continue to defy the predictable and ordinary.