Velvet Haven would be better classified as a paranormal romance rather than an erotic romance. It doesn’t have the tendency to place the main characters into slightly incredible situations for the sake of sex, which is a very, very good thing. However, the story itself, while starting off interesting, ultimately took a downturn into the world of chaos and cliché.
Centuries ago, Bran sacrificed his life to allow his uncle, the then King of the Sidhe, to live out his life with his mortal lover. The supreme goddess of Annwyn, Cailleach, accepted his sacrifice and made him the new consort. She also gave him a legacy curse that forces him to live off human sexual energy for the rest of his life. As a Dark Sidhe, he hates humans, but even worse, this curse robs him of a soul mate. Only two things keep Bran going: the need to feed, and finding his lost brother Carden.
Bran’s time to find Carden is running out, because he has begun seeing visions of his own death – death by the hand of a mortal woman. It is therefore rather bad timing that the goddess suddenly decides to send him on a mission to Velvet Haven, the nightclub on the border between the immortal/mortal worlds, to investigate the brutal murders of numerous Sidhe. The Sidhe are afraid that angels have found a book with powers to control both Annwyn and the mortal realm. So when Bran arrives at Velvet Haven, who should he find but Mairi, a hot nurse with a passion for old books who has just recently found a gorgeous book in a very foreign language that she plans on translating?
The story started off fine. Mairi’s mysterious background, coupled with her slight otherworldliness, seemed to promise a unique character, except she quickly became wimpy and a little annoying. I liked her long-standing connection with the Angel of Death, who has been protecting her since she was a child. I wish that the author had shown more of Mairi’s personality, because it seemed that Bran’s immediate attraction to her was based on random selection. Bran was surprisingly useless as the Sidhe king – for the past couple centuries he’s been whining about his lot in life, complaining that he’s been made king. It also seemed like he had zero power, and I came to the fast conclusion that he would be more aptly named The Goddess of Annwyn’s Official Bitch. During the action, he got KO-ed pretty soon. His attraction to Mairi posed a few problems, and his waffling between his desire for her and his “determination” to stay away became tedious quickly. In fact, when they are together, the two main characters are like broken records. Their scenes are always punctuated by thoughts/dialogue along the lines of: I want her, but I can’t have her. I must stay away, but I can’t.
Parts of the story seemed incredibly vague to me, including who exactly gave Bran his curse, and why. There were also a lot of characters who liked to suddenly appear and disappear, and I assume that this is setup for the rest of the series. Still, I would have liked a little more general background, because I often felt like I was reading a book in the middle of the series.
I appreciated the fact that the author tried to build up a huge story instead of immediately plunging the characters into crazy sex. Unfortunately, for such a short book, Velvet Haven promised a lot, and took the cheesy route in getting things done.