Dark Illusion (Dark #29)

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At any other time, Julija Brennan would find solace in the quiet of the Sierra Mountains, but now the mage is in the race of her life. Having broken free from her controlling family, Julija’s attempts to warn the Carpathians of the coming threat has failed and put a target on her back—and those who hunt her are close behind…

After centuries locked away in a monastery in the Carpathian Mountains, Isai Florea can’t believe he’s finally found his lifemate—the missing half of his soul. The second he sees Julija his world blazes with color. But despite their explosive connection Julija rebels against what she sees as Isai’s intent to control her and rejects the bond that would prevent him from becoming a monster.

As their unfulfilled bond continues to call to them both, Julija and Isai aim to complete the task that brought them together. They are used to facing danger alone, but now the mage and the ancient warrior must learn how to rely on each other in order to stop a plot that threatens all Carpathians…

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Dark Illusion is a traditional romance novel that has the slightest elements of BDSM in it. The book is very mainstream, but there are two short spanking scenes in the beginning of the book, while the ancient Carpathian hero and the modern mage heroine are feeling each other out.

One aspect of this romance that I loved is that even though the characters are in insta-lust with each other (destiny and all that), they don’t bond immediately, leading both to feel that the souls were mismatched or damaged. Their hesitancies drew me into the story, made the romance easier to relate to and definitely led to certain humourous moments.

There is quite a bit of conversation regarding lifemates, and whether or not it is fair to expect the women to give up her life when she is claimed, or fair to the Carpathian to allow him to turn vampire or suicide, so that the woman does not need to sacrifice herself. I think this conversation was long overdue and I am glad that Julija had it with several characters, working through her problems with Isai’s expectations. I enjoy a little supernatural romance but for me, it always needs to be grounded with some level of magical realism, and normal human emotions and behaviour.

The remaining sections of the book are devoted to the epic struggle between Carpathian and vampires and evil mages. Battles are fought, betrayals uncovered and through it all Isai and Julija enjoy some sheet-ripping good sex.

I enjoyed the book, although the Carpathian series is the one I like least from this author. Dark Illusion hinted at Elisabeta and Ferro’s upcoming story, and I am very excited to read that one.

Overall, fans of the Carpathian series should enjoy reading Dark Illusion. It should be read in order, as much of the plot will not make sense otherwise.

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Deathless (Anne Malcom)

Deathless is the second book in the Vein Series Chronicles. It is a new vampire romance series with witches, hunters, demons and gods. You can read my review of book one, here.

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My life was never black and white.
Heck, it wasn’t even black, white and gray.
Lines were not drawn between good and evil, and if they were, I would have jumped those suckers for fun.
But now it was simpler. It wasn’t black and white. Or gray. It was only one thing.
Blood.
A crimson-tinted world. That was all I needed.
All I wanted.
Him.
Despite the war raging around us, or the secrets between us, there was nothing simpler than blood.
It didn’t matter that it would be fatal.
After all, it’s the things we’re not undead without that will kill us in the end.

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This is my second attempt at reading this book. It is a fantastic idea but the prose just kills me. The author tends to be wordy at the best of times, IMHO, and her new heroine Isla is rather prone to going off on tangents. She talks and talks and talks.

At times, I actually lost focus on Isla’s original point and felt that it was taking away from the otherwise excellent story. The blurb I posted above is an excellent example of text from the book. I’m sure that there are tons of people who love this style, but it is not for me.

At times I had to force myself to finish reading the book, or at least skim the current section, because I did want to find out what happened. But I will admit that if the author wasn’t someone I usually like, I would have given up before the 50% mark.

In addition to the run-on sentences and overly wordy style, sometimes sentences just didn’t make sense. Ms. Malcom’s editor/betas did not do her any favours in this instance.

For example:

“Well, I need to think of something that your mind wouldn’t conjure me up doing that will make you sure of that fact” – Pg. 18

“No, it was the benevolent power of nature herself that gifted the first of our kind with gifts. Not the powers of gods but the powers of mortals unrealized. Or maybe forgotten powers the gods had left strewn about the leaves which had settled into the soil when they wandered the earth.” – Pg. 139

“He’ll not want to be hoping to run into me” – Pg. 277

The next book in this series is going to be one I wait and borrow from my local library, rather than purchasing. I still want to know where the series goes but if it is written the same way, I won’t be continuing.

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