Wow! I really see what all the fuss is about! This series is fantastic, and anyone that is tempted to judge whether to continue with the whole series or not, from the first book, shouldn’t. While I enjoyed the first book, and was happy to see the characters from the first book continue on through the series, the series most definitely took a more serious turn.
I’m not sure how many will agree with my opinion here, but, I think it’s fairly obvious that if you’re looking for a series similar in tone, to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series from J.R. Ward, this is it! The characters are rich, and all are interwoven in some aspect. Each book allows us to experience the connection between an amorous pairing, but better yet, we are offered the intricate stories of the many characters’ pasts that has ultimately lead them to their current situation. The continuous growth and wisdom that develops through the centuries, for each Dark-Hunter, makes for an alliance of members that complete each other.
In this third “chapter” to the saga, I would say that the intention was for the main focus of this story to be about the reclusive Dark-Hunter, Talon, and his encounter with the quirky “Sunshine”.
Talon has lost everyone he has ever loved from his ancient past, due to an unfortunate circumstance that has angered a god, promising Talon a life of torment without love.
Unlike the others, he was cursed by his own gods. It was why he refused to have a Squire. Why he refused to have anyone near him.
In the present time, while Talon is Daimon hunting, he is struck down by a speeding Mardi Gras float. Sunshine (the one he has just saved from some evil Daimons), with the help of a friend, takes this stranger home to care for him.
I had a difficult time liking Sunshine’s “eccentricity” in the beginning of the novel. She is a free-spirited artist that speaks her mind without thinking first, and is prone to forgetfulness, (which would normally induce anyone around her to become annoyed). While this novel is interesting from the start, I found the time she spent “caring” for Talon somewhat creepy. Basically, she brings him home, strips him naked, and all but fondles his nakedness.
I just want one more peek. A woman needed a good ogle every now and again, and how often did a woman get a chance to ogle an unconscious handsome god?
Resisting the urge to fondle her guest, she covered him with a blanket, picked his jacket up from the bed, then left the room.
The ordinarily “womanizing” Talon, wakes up to find himself being ogled by Sunshine and her mother. Astonished at how forthright they are about his appearance and endowment…
“Starla, you’re embarrassing him.”
“Oh believe me, that’s nothing to be embarrassed over. You ought to be proud. Strut it. Trust me, young man, women your age would love to have some of that.”
Talon snapped his gaping jaw shut. These were the strangest women he’d ever had the misfortune of being near.
Gods, get him out of here.
Starla looked up at Sunshine in the window. “What are you doing?”
“He’s allergic to the sun.”
“It’s so cloudy outside, it’s almost dark.”
“I know but he says he can’t be in it.”
“Really? So you brought home a vampire? Cool.”
“I’m not a vampire,” he reiterated.
“‘Not exactly,’ he said earlier,” Sunshine said. “What’s not exactly a vampire?”
“A werewolf,” Starla said. “With his aura, it makes sense. Wow, Sunny, you found yourself a werewolf.”
“I’m not a werewolf.”
… once alone with Sunshine, he quickly comes around (when his libido suddenly kicked into high gear). While this whole section is a little funny (I’ll admit), I did cringe a bit too.
A little excerpt from a funny moment that had me laughing along with the guys, that I MUST include. Basically, since Sunshine has accidentally “trashed” his clothes, he is without keys, phone, and stranded naked in her apartment. He calls Kyrian and asks him to bring him some stuff;
A knock sounded on the door.
Talon set the bowl he was looking at back with the others on the shelf by the door. He stepped to the door and opened it to see Kyrian and Julian standing on the other side.
They both gaped as they caught sight of him standing virtually naked in the loft.
Talon quickly slammed the door shut.
Kyrian roared with laughter. Talon cringed.
Talon eventually finds himself intrigued by this spunky girl, and what was supposed to be an uncomplicated afternoon of sex has them entwined in a complex love story (and what a revelation it is!).
He lay down beside her. Before he could stop himself, he pulled her into his arms, spooning up behind her.
“Mmm,” she breathed sleepily. “I really like it when you do that.”
Pain ripped through him as he closed his eyes and inhaled her unique scent. She felt so incredibly good in his arms.
Nae! his mind roared. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t let himself care for her that way.
There could never be anything between them. Tomorrow he would have to let her go back to her life while he returned to his.
That was the way of things.
Kissing her gently on the back of her head, he sighed and forced himself to sleep. He could never have her; she could never be more than a passing whim for him.
While the beginning of the book felt somewhat unbelievable (perhaps it’s simply because I’ve never known anyone like Sunshine), the saga evolves into a strangely believable, intriguing tale that involves much more than just the main love story.
Talon and Sunshine’s love story is somewhat overshadowed by the underlying story of certain gods partnering to destroy the world as we know it. That, and some of the other developing Dark-Hunter characters really stole the show for me!
Acheron is the devastatingly beautiful Dark-Hunter leader who is the eldest (but looks the youngest), most powerful and last known Atlantean in existence. He appears to be personally tied to Artemis, and I’m certain his story is going to blow me away! With his calm demeanor, oracle-like powers, and his adorable politeness to his “elders” (cute section with Nick’s human mom, who has no idea who Ash really is), I know everyone is meant to absolutely love him – and I’m already there!
Then she looked Ash up and down, opened his coat and sighed in concern. “I swear you’re even thinner than you were the last time I saw you.” She motioned the bartender over and ordered red beans and rice for Ash. “You want anything else?” she asked him.
“No, thank you.”
She wagged her finger at Ash. “You’re going to eat it all, right?”
Nick pressed his lips together to keep from laughing at Ash’s Eddie Haskell impersonation and his mom trying to mother an eleven-thousand-year-old warrior.
Then, there is Zarek from Alaska (I liken him to “Zsadist” of the BDB series – and I think he will be my favorite, as Zsadist was). Always dressed in black, with his long black hair, he is steamy but downright scary looking. His demeanor is one of ferociousness, with a venomous attitude towards anyone he encounters. He doesn’t think twice about feeding off of humans, (even though it is against Dark-Hunter law). He is deeply tormented, and epitomizes a savageness from having suffered a brutal childhood as a Roman slave. Never having experienced love, he has had to adapt (for his own emotional survival), by hardening his heart. He seemingly oozes hatred from every pore. However, there is *something* about him, a hint at a vulnerability that is sure to crumble his wrathful exterior.
The air between them warmed up considerably. Hell, Zarek even looked almost…tolerable.
“Am I staying with you and Kyrian, or Nick?” Zarek asked.
Acheron fell quiet while he fished a key out of his jacket pocket. “We thought it best that you have your own place. I had Nick rent a townhouse for you over on Dauphin Street. He painted the windows black and made sure they were blocked from daylight.”
Zarek’s face returned to stone and his black eyes blazed. For some reason, the man was furious as he snatched the key from Acheron’s hand and turned to leave.
“I’ll have Nick show you where it is,” Acheron said.
“I don’t need anyone to show me a damn thing,” Zarek snarled. “I’ll find it on my own.”
awww….Zarek! I get you, I do! Stupid Dark-Hunters, they’re all friends and stuff, and you’re the scary new guy that nobody wants to take a chance on.
Valerius (the grandson of THE evil Valerius that tortured Kyrian), now also a Dark-Hunter and sent to aid them in their quest to combat the newest evil plot that plagues them. He is resentful at being on their team, seemingly as horrible, and pompous as his grandfather, yet does he carry a secret that will prove him a better man?
And finally, Nick (a “Squire” – the human helper). He is a regular character in all the books so far, and while he is hot-tempered, and frequently irritated by his charges, he is often the source of comic relief in this series.
“Oh man,” Nick snapped. “I hate that poofing shit. You scared me so bad, Ash, you made me eat this crappy cheese.” He looked back at Talon. “What is this stuff anyway?”
The group dynamic is amazing, and I actually found myself anxious to get back to their stories, when, on occasion, the “onslaught” of romantic interludes (lots of repetitive touching, feeling, admiring, adoring) became too much. While I do usually love deep romantic interludes, in this one, it was either a bit too much at times, or perhaps I was simply more interested in the developing tale.
While the first book was more of a sweet paranormal love story, and the second was an initiation into this new world, this third one boldly throws us right in! The characters feel real, and the progression is consistent. The author has an amazing imagination, to have created such an interesting, solid and multidimensional story. Containing both past stories from ancient times and the resulting consequences on earth today (and within the gods realm), everyone is intriguing and equally important to the development of the story. It seems that each book gives you just a little bit more about how this world came to be (and each Dark-Hunter has his own little “twist” that makes his book, even better than the last).
And on a final note, another favorite “Nick” moment. I know I already quoted a bunch of stuff, but all the while, never giving the story away, right? So it’s ok! And honestly, it was so hard picking and choosing my favorite excerpts to display here. I could have quoted twice this much! These are the moments, that make the characters real to me.
As Ash left the house, the back door slammed shut, catching the tail end of his long black coat.
Ash jerked to a stop and cursed.
Nick howled with laughter at the site of Acheron trapped. “Don’t it take the bad-ass right out of you?”
Ash arched a brow.
The door opened by itself, freeing his coat, then it slammed shut again.
Nick sobered instantly. “And that puts it right back in you.”
Check out the entire series reading order guide right here ——>Sherrilyn Kenyon – Dark-Hunter & Dream-Hunter Reading Order