Book Review – Love is Darkness by Caroline Hanson

by Maryse on April 8, 2012 · 12 comments

in Urban Fantasy

Love is Darkness (A Valerie Dearborn Novel)
I finished this one with a smile on my face. LOVED every minute of it. Never got bored, and never put it down. Nope. Start to finish I devoured it. AND!! I felt all of the emotion and turmoil and apprehension and… *ahem* other stuff  ;) as the story progressed. The connections intensified, the course of events were realistic (well.. hehe. As realistic as a world with vampires can be…), and ummm.. you know. There’s plenty of steamy in here. This is NOT YA. BUT!! The “steamy scenes” teased!! BIG TIME. Quite detailed… and yet… left you wanting more. Another series where the reader is tantalized plenty, and things are not just “we’re-already-in-love” handed to you.

When the author first contacted (and sent me this novel), I immediately recognized the title as one that was so frequently recommended.

Sandra emailed me saying:

“It includes  the scary but way cool vampires, hunters and Valerie who really just wants to be normal.  Plus it was underpriced as an ebook.  Love it  ….couldn’t put it down and now waiting, waiting for the second novel to be released in December.    You have to read it .. Look forward to  hearing what you think.”

Desiree emailed me saying:


You MUST read LOVE IS DARKNESS & LOVE IS PAIN by Caroline Hanson…alpha male x2 .. vampire. Can’t believe you do not have it on your site!! You will LOVE LOVE LOVE


and then the numerous Facebook and blog comment recommendations cinched it for me!

Kristina: Maryse I highly recommend A Valerie Dearborn Novel by Caroline Hanson (Love is Darkness & Love is Fear).. I read these 2 books in 1 day because they were THAT GOOD. Mega Alpha Vampire.. check.. average girl.. check.. average girl in love with a tortured badboy, CHECK, Mega Alpha Vamp interested in average girl & tortured boy getting pissed CHECK.. this is a different look @ the vamp world. The sex scenes are amazing & there is defintely HOLY SH*T moments.. I am desperately waiting for book 3 to come out. I have not been this excited since Fifty series & Effortless.. Especially for a paranormal romance. … if you want some hot vamps, hot humans, hot elves, etc.. then read these books asap!!

Yanira: ‎@Kristina thx for the recom, I had looked at these books, but now will read for sure!

Patricia: I know Yanira, Kristina has peaked my curiosity, .,….I think I need a vampire change of pace

Kristy: Valerie Dearborn series for sure! I flew through them so frantically my kids had to eat pb&j sandwiches for diner cause I refused to stop reading to cook

Maryse’s Book Blog: … you guys telling me about the Valerie Dearborn series – I’m DYING to read this now. Anything that has you all ignoring your real lives MUST be good!

Carrie: I finished Love is Darkness about 4 am earlier this week.  Once I started I couldn’t put it down!  … Considering the cliffhanger moment at the end of Darkness, if Fear leaves off the same way I’m going to be DYING for 3.

Dara: @Carrie…prepare gets down right unfair…lol..but ohh you gotta read it!!

Tasha: I just found these books on Amazon and I LOVE THEM!! I am so mad the next one does not come out till May the cliffhanger was fantastic. I was mad at everyone but her in the end and excited to read what is going to happen next. I love when you can find a book that brings out all your emotion…that is the difference between a good author and a great author.

See? Over and over again, this many people just couldn’t be wrong. And you know what, after book #1, I wholeheartedly agree. Another fantastic read!! (I’ve been having a really good book week!!)

But here’s an admission. At first I found myself just a tad… meh about the subject matter. I thought to myself, ahhhh another kick-butt vampire hunter female. I don’t want them to hunt vampires!! I want them to cuddle vampires!! Yes, yes, I know. It usually always ends up that way anyway, so what was I worried about? I usually end up liking ‘em just fine (even loving them – Cat and Bones anyone?). My apprehension of the “kick-butt” heroine is that I find I tend to connect more when the heroine is more “human” than super-human, ya know? Yeahhhh, you know. I’ve said that before. Some like ‘em tough and already powerful, I tend to like ‘em quirky and perfectly imperfect.

And books like these that remind me of why I was such a vampire-addict when I first started reading again. It had everything I love in an urban fantasy. Valerie, a human female, (and okay, yes… she has a little something *special* to her). She is part “empath”, meaning… I dunno. In this one, nothing to humans, no distinguishable powers at all, but when she is around the paranormal… ahhh the powers kick in, on an emotional level. See!? Totally relatable to us human readers. For all we know, at least as per Caroline Hanson’s human/vampire world, we could be EMPATHS!! Uh huh!!! We so could. I mean, who knows?! Maybe it’s ’cause we just haven’t met a vampire yet! Even if we didn’t have any recognizable powers in our past and amongst our human entourage… *nods emphatically*

No? ahhhh never mind. Tee hee!!! *blush*. Well… so? Still…. totally relatable now, when I put it that way, right?

Anyhoooo…. so she’s been in training to be a vampire hunter all of her life, as her mother was viciously murdered by one, and her father is on a path of vengeance. Along the way, a teenage boy (Jack) joined their cause of vengeance, as he too, lost his parents the same way. She crushed on him throughout her teenage life, and now that they’re adults, Jack is hotter then ever. But… still rebuffing her. Well. Sorta.

“This has always been here Val. We know it and we avoid it because it doesn’t change anything. All it will do is tear us apart.”

His motivation in life is focused on one thing. The extermination of vampires, and Valerie just doesn’t really have it in her, nor does she want to be a vampire hunter. See!! I LOVED her!! Totally relatable ’cause I don’t think I’d wanna be one either.

But there’s a vampire that has taken a keen interest in her.

And then he remembered the dead empath had a daughter.


Lucas is the oldest, most powerful, most gorgeous, most amazing, king of vampires. Except he is so ancient that his feelings, his empathy, his motivation is waning. Old vampires can’t feel. And to feel, or have a semblance of feeling, they must do outrageous things. Like murder, pillage… world domination. You know, stuff like that.

But when Lucas happens upon her bloodline, he secretly watches over her throughout her life. While Valerie does not know of her own powers and her effect on the paranormal world (especially vampires), she is a target. And on her first “stakeout” (hehe) with her father as a teenager, she is attacked, and Lucas secretly makes himself known to her, and teaches her a few things, himself.

“Kill him, Valerie. He attacked you.”

Huh. That’s a twist. She shook her head and dropped the stake, hands nerveless in fear. “No. I don’t want to.”

“Worse will come for you. You must learn to protect yourself. I cannot be here at all times. Do it now and with my protection. No harm shall come to you by my hand.

And Lucas begins to gain her trust (of course, only while her father and Jack are looking the other way).

Did she fear Lucas? Hell, yeah! But would he hurt her?


Her mind and body knew it, the answer resonating through her like the vibrations of a bell.

And now that she is an adult, trying to live a “normal” life as a college student, trying to get passed her feelings for “Jack”, Lucas comes back in her life with a proposal. Now she has to decide who she can trust, and who’s telling the truth. The fate of humanity (and the paranormal world) is at stake, the balance is off, and with her assistance, his plans can possibly take fruition.

“There was a time when things were different. There was a balance in the world. There were Others. Not only vampires, but werewolves, Fey, witches, empaths – they were all real. All powerful. If one group became too bloodthirsty or powerful, the others could unite long enough to restore a balance.” A long moment passed.

“What happened?”

“Only vampires remain and I rule them all.”

Except that his opponents have something different in mind, and now her whole “normal” life has just taken a paranormal dive. The very thing she resisted all of her teenage life, is now front row and center, and she can’t ignore it anymore.

Oh and… she can’t ignore her extreme attraction to Lucas, either.

And yet, he’d been so compelling and fascinating, looked like some sort of medieval champion in Gucci, that if he was the face of evil, what the hell did good look like?

Not only had Lucas saved her life, he’d helped her – been patient with her, taken away her fear, gone on to star in some of her better fantasies.

And of course, there’s Jack. He may be human, but he is no less steamy, I can promise you that. Yep.

He was her childhood love. Even though she was grown up, he was still around and in her life. He’d show up, be all alpha male say something about how important she was to him and she just… couldn’t quite get over him.

He was the fantasy.

And I always hesitate when publicly comparing books to other books or series, but just to give you an idea, of the *feel* of it, at least for me, I want to say… and I will only say it in terms of the potential “love triangle” and not all of the other crazy stuff, but this one has that “Jean Claude/Richard/Anita” feel to it (pre-Anita’s ardor and multi-animal stuff that happened to her).

However Lucas is just… bigger, more masculine… seemingly much more powerful, and even sexier, to me. But If you’ve read Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, you’ll know what I’m referring to. You know… when the books were great in the first half of the series? Of course Jack is not a were (at least not as far as I know), but it has that awesome delicious energy, and just… the *feel* of them, to me, is like that. Not that I’m complaining, because I’ve been dying to read another series in that vein. Heh. I said vein! No pun intended, but it turned out pretty good, didnt it?

Now… it’s not perfect. Some words missing here or there, and I found myself (at least in the beginning) wondering if I had just “missed” something, in the way some scenes changed, or some conversations occurred. It was rare, but I remember backtracking at a couple of times, checking to see if I had skipped a page. But this was only in the beginning, and didn’t confuse me enough to be lost. And there are a few questions that I still have, such as… do all humans know that vampire exist in this series? Or is it just those that have been “attacked” or those that are in blood-relationships with them? Because there are plenty of human/vampire interactions throughout, so… maybe I missed that part?

But overall, I was so thrilled with the story, that when I was done I just had that need to email the author and express my gratitude:

“Just to let you know I just finished “Love is Darkness” and loved it! Reminiscent of the vampire books I used to read and love when I first started in the genre. All that delicious tension! And scary, more traditional vampires. I’ve been needing something like this.
*sigh* so much fun!  And what an ending. I swear I’m crushing on Jack and Lucas equally.”

And all I can say now is wooooohooooo YAY because right after I’m done this review, I get to start book #2. And as they said up there, book #1 ends on a delicious little cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to get back to into it.

4.5 stars! Interested in the series? Check out the reading order guide here: Caroline Hanson – Valerie Dearborn Series Reading Order

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

patricia April 8, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Squeeeeeeeee I knew I knew it, sighing with relief I am not alone. I felt alone reading this series…..squeeeeeee hurry up and read book 2 not sure I can keep my trap closed with all my excitement……..

Dara April 8, 2012 at 8:01 PM

“For all we know, at least as per Caroline Hanson’s human/vampire world, we could be EMPATHS!! Uh huh!!! We so could. I mean, who knows?! Maybe it’s ’cause we just haven’t met a vampire yet! Even if we didn’t have any recognizable powers in our past and amongst our human entourage… *nods emphatically* ”

….omg i giggled out loud reading this!! i promise this is how i feel when i read urban fantasy!! And why when you look through OMG THE BOAT (what i named my when i hook it up it says OMG THE BOAT IS SYNCING..hehe) you find NOTHING BUT!! Glad you enjoyed the read too!! Can’t wait to see where the 3rd one takes us!! Maybe she’ll title it Love is Long?

Dara April 8, 2012 at 8:02 PM

Btw how HAWT is that cover???

Maryse April 8, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Hehe!! Dara, I do it a lll the time. I think to myself… “Hey… that could be me!!”


Yep. Love is long. TOO LONG in this case (December for #3)


Caroline Hanson April 8, 2012 at 8:11 PM

I have been DYING for Maryse to read the book and she liked it! I am so happy and your review has totally made my day and made me blush. As a mild aside, the books are going to be getting another edit in the next few weeks. Thank you! And the comparison to Hamilton pre-bestiality? Hellooo compliment! She’s my hero. Again thank you!

Maryse April 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM

So glad Caroline!! I wonder, sometimes, if my occasional comparisons to other series/authors are a good thing to do, but it was the closest thing for me to that, and I LOVED that series once upon a time… I MISS the dynamic between JC, Anita and Richard, and while JC was my favorite, I swooned a million times with Richard, and then growled in anger at him, too.

This, feels right for me. This series has that special touch that confuses my heart and I love it.

Caroline Hanson April 8, 2012 at 8:36 PM

I loved JC and of course Anita was her frustrating self, but what I connected with was that he was trying to be the best he could for HER and that didn’t make him good, but considering the life she lived, if made him good for her.

And dude, those guys were tortured! I loved their emotional baggage. I’d never read anything like that. It was like she took Anne Rice’s model and made it her own.

Richard always pissed me off, though. I’m not a werewolf fan. And their sex always seemed so…rough and fraternity like if that makes sense. Maybe it just seemed more about his desire and his big dong whereas JC was always trying to make it about Anita. I also didn’t like the idea of him wearing looney tunes ties. That weirded me out. Lol.

Anyway, the comparison is super flattering.

Maryse April 8, 2012 at 8:54 PM

LOL!! Looney tunes ties. I forgot about those!!!

Sheila April 8, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Hurry up with book #2!!!!! It’s even better!!!! Can’t wait for the 3rd one…xD

Shannon April 9, 2012 at 11:48 AM

I have to say, I’m soooo glad I found this website! After reading your reviews, I have at least… Oh.. Probably 50 books in queue to be read. ;) I’m looking at a summer full of paranormal love, and would have it no other way! But these books, because of these reviews, are jumping to the top of my to-read list! Oh, say, tonight? ;D Thanks Maryse!!

tanya May 9, 2012 at 11:29 PM

Nice review..I tried to read just the necessary info just in case I decide to pick up the series. I thought it was interesting that it was under the urban fantasy category…is that something new? If so i’ll be coming by more often ;) . I thought you were a PNR kind of gal. I tried to be open minded so I tried BDB and thought it was cheesy, kenyon seemed old and boring so I gave up on PNR. Ever sine I read the fever series every book after has not measured up. A few have come close but i’m still searching and not giving up. I hope that you give us more urban fantasy and contemporary reviews soon since you do have fans that like those as well ;) Have a good night!

Maryse May 11, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Hi Tanya!

I read (or I used to read) a lot of Urban Fantasy… I have a link direct to many of the urban fantasy series and reviews I’ve tagged as such:

Here it is:

I would highly recommend the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost:

I hope that helps!

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