Midnight Rising: A Midnight Breed Novel (The Midnight Breed Series Book 4)
Book four in the series explores acceptance and healing. Focusing on the emotionally and physically scarred Rio, we are lead through his life after his Breedmate’s ultimate betrayal. While Rio’s physical perfection may have been scarred, his spirit and heart have been utterly destroyed.
Promising the Warriors that he would seal off the “Ancient’s” hibernation chamber/cave (discovered in book#3), he also led them to believe he would venture back to his home in Spain for a some time off and reflection. His actual intentions however, were to seal himself into the cave and end his darkened life.
Once a man of an easy going nature, with star-quality good looks, his life lost all meaning once the woman he loved betrayed him and his brethren. Conspiring with their enemy, she was hoping that the leader, Lucan, would be killed in the blast, and that Rio would be injured enough to have to leave the Order. Hoping that they would leave the compound together, for good, her plans fell apart when it was Rio that took the bulk of the damage. Grasping the severity of her actions, she ended her life when Rio denounced her.
An excellent quote I found in book #3 (Midnight Awakening), shortly after Rio’s tragedy:
Elise hadn’t wanted to stare, but the anguish she saw in his face was arresting – even more than the ravaged condition of his person.
“I can’t take away old wounds and scars,” Tess said. “And some of the worst ones a person bears are on the inside. Rio is a good man, but he’s damaged in ways he may never recover from, and there is no Breedmate talent that can erase those kinds of hurts.”
“Maybe Love?” Elise suggested hopefully.
Tess shook her head as she ran her hands under the counter tap and scrubbed up. “Love betrayed him once. That’s what left him the way he is now. I don’t think he’ll let anyone get that close again.”
Unable to complete the task of ending his own life, Rio lived (or merely “existed”) in the cave for a few months. He was starving himself, and going insane from the ongoing headaches and blackouts (as a result of the damage from the attack). On the day he was finally going to end it, he was discovered by a wandering human female (Dylan).
Dylan, on vacation in Europe with friends, ventures into his cave, when a beautiful female ghost begged her to “help him”. Yep, you guessed it – Dylan’s a Breedmate, (unbeknownst to her), and her gift is to communicate with ghosts. While she is severely spooked inside the cave (due to the open crypt, scattered skeletons, strange markings on the cave walls, including one that matches her “birthmark” on the back of her neck – oh-oh!), she proceeds to take pictures. Since she works for a tabloid, she ascertains that the cave could inspire a good “monster” story. While gathering photographic evidence, she captures the angry (and vampire-morphing) Rio in the process. She “high-tails” it out of there, when she realizes there is an angry vagabond (or worse) living in the cave, but he follows her to her hotel room to take her camera and erase her memory.
“Yeah I have them, but here’s where it gets worse, Gid. She’s not the only one who’s seen them. They’ve already gone out via e-mail to the paper she works and several other individuals. If I could’ve contained this by scrubbing her, I would have. Unfortunately, it’s bigger than that, my friend.”
His plans to “off” himself, now bust, he is required to take her back to the compound with him so that the Warriors can interrogate her and track down (and erase the memories of) everyone now involved in her story.
Their forced nearness, along with how well Rio “cleans up”, permits Dylan to re-evaluate the situation at hand, and consider him in a different light. While he avoids her questions (hoping to keep the Breed’s true nature a secret from her), she strong-arms Rio into facing something he wasn’t prepared for:
“What do the markings mean, Rio?” She took hold of his arm. “Tell me.”
He stared down at her fingers wrapped around him. “It doesn’t concern you.”
“Like hell it doesn’t!” she replied, her voice rising. “Why would you have the same markings on your body that are in that cave – on that crypt?”
“You are mistaken. You don’t know what you saw. Then or now.”
It wasn’t an argument so much as a complete refusal to take the conversation any further. And that really pissed Dylan off.
“I’m mistaken, am I?” She grabbed her loose hair and lifted it around to one side of her neck. “Look at this and tell me I don’t know what I saw.”
She bent her head, putting the exposed base of her neck – the patch of skin that bore her unusual birthmark – in plain view to him.
The silence seemed endless.
Then, finally, a hissed curse.
“What does it mean?” she asked him, lifting her head and letting her hair fall back on place.
Rio didn’t answer her. He backed up as if he didn’t want to be near her for another second.
“Tell me, Rio. Please…what does all of this mean?”
He was quiet for a long moment, his dark brows low over his eyes as he stared at her.
“You will know soon enough,” he said softly as he went to the door and stepped outside.
He closed her in, then turned the lock, leaving her in there alone and confused, and very certain that the path her life had been taking had just irrevocably changed course.
The book guides us through the importance of her true nature, how she fits into the Breed’s world…
“Oh, my God!” She couldn’t hold back her laughter. It barked out of her almost hysterically, a flood of disbelief and amusement washing away all her anxiety in an instant. “A vampire. Really? Because, you know, that makes so much more sense than everything I was guessing you might be. Not military, not a government spy, or a terrorist operative, but a vampire!”
… and how Rio might fit in hers.
With the imminent death of her sick mother at hand, she struggles with the option of having to leave her mother for good (to integrate fully in the Breed’s society) or leave Rio for good, while she returns to her old life (memory scrubbed) so that she may be with her mother during her final days.
This is a detailed and drawn out affecting love story but also one of deep emotional turmoil. Rio struggles with re-integrating himself into The Order, accepting what has happened to him, acknowledging the newfound feelings he has towards his Breedmate charge, and his conflict within, to trust love again.
“Goddamn it, Dylan. Why did you come up there?” His hands were firm as he took hold of her upper arms. He gave her a little shake, but he was the one who trembled.
“Why? Why did you have to be the one?”
Dylan’s struggle is not just an issue of acceptance, but an issue of choosing to leave a loved one (whether it be Rio, or her mother) behind.
“So what now, Rio? When are you going to scrub my memory?”
She didn’t hear him move, but she felt the stir in the air as he drew up to her back and his strong, warm hands came to rest softly on her shoulders. “I don’t want to do that, Dylan. For your sake – maybe for my own too – I should erase myself from your memory, but I don’t want that. I don’t think I could.”
Dylan shut her eyes, holding the tender words close. “Then…where do we go from here?”
Slowly, he turned her around to face him. He kissed her sweetly, then rested his forehead against hers. “I don’t know. I only know that I’m not ready to say good-bye to you right now.”
I know there was some action in here somewhere, something about Minions, and Ancients (oooh a crazy scene in chapter 17), bad vampires wanting to take over, and some ghosts with warnings…
“Nightmare scenario, my friend. but it could very well be a solid one”.”
…but I’ll be honest, obviously, I was more taken with the love story then anything else.
Book five (next book), on the other hand, was non-stop action and danger, and furthered the over-all storyline of the Breed as a whole. The love story was so-so, but in the grand-scheme of things, the author of the series definitely kicks it up a notch.