Have you ever wanted to know what it's like to be immortal? To journey through the night stalking the evil that preys on humans? To have unlimited wealth, unlimited power? That is my existence, and it is dark and dangerous. I play hero to thousands, but am known to none. And I love every minutes of it.
Or so I thought until one night when I woke up handcuffed to my worst nightmare: a conservative woman in a button-down shirt. Or in Amanda's case, one buttoned all the way up to her chin. She's smart, sexy, witty, and wants nothing to do with the paranormal--in other words, me.
My attraction to Amanda Devereaux goes against everything I stand for. Not to mention the last time I fell in love it cost me not only my human life, but also my very soul. Yet every time I look at her, I find myself wanting to try again. Wanting to believe that love and loyalty do exist.
Even more disturbing, I find myself wondering if there's any way a woman like Amanda can love a man whose battle scars run deep, and whose heart was damaged by a betrayal so savage that he's not sure it will ever beat again.
"Kyrian of Thrace"
This is the first "official" Dark Hunters story, and where I first discovered that vampires could avoid sunlight and have fangs, but not look like an emaciated Pillsbury Doughboy. Oh no, that was not the case with these bad boys. (They ARE mad, bad, and immortal, after all).
While reading this book, I had to smile because while there are memories of great violence and death, there are also many light-hearted and cheesy moments as well. We see more earthly involvement with the Greek gods and goddesses here, and this is the book where we first meet Acheron, or aka Ash.
The gist of the story is that Kyrian was betrayed thousands of years ago by someone he loved, and his cry of anguish was heard by the goddess Artemis, who had created this band of hunters - led by Acheron - to battle the Apollites who turned daimon. A Dark Hunter relinquishes his soul to Artemis, and they are fated to walk the world alone. Apollites, also known as the descendants of the god Apollo, were cursed to live no more than 27 years before they crumbled to dust and died. Those desperate enough not to die become daimons, blood suckers, and require the souls of humans to sustain their existence. Dark Hunters do not require blood to survive, nor do they kill humans for their souls. However they cannot be out in sunlight, unlike daimons, and while immortal, they can die. A Dark Hunter who dies becomes a Shade, doomed to walk the earth always hungering, longing, but never being satisified. It is an existence beyond cruelty.
So Kyrian is hunting daimons, most especially Desiderius, who seems to have powers unlike any daimon he's known. Desiderius handcuffs Kyrian to Amanda Deveraux, a human with extraordinary powers of her own, coming from a magical family. But while Amanda loves her family, she denies her roots, preferring to live in the "normal" world. She doesn't know it, but has incredible power, and Desiderius is fully aware of this. He uses his human minions to carefully nurture Amanda's gifts without her knowing.
While together, Amanda and Kyrian begin to fall in love, although because of his tortured past and the incredible betrayal he suffered, Kyrian is convinced no woman can ever love him. He continues to push her away. But it's no use. He finds her extraordinary, and is constantly surprised at her bravery and fearlessness. So while he finds himself wishing for a life other than that of a Dark Hunter, a life filled with love and family, he knows the chances of that are near impossible of surviving. Only a handful of Dark Hunters have ever successfully gotten their souls back, and the price is one that may just be too steep to pay....
Yeah the book is a little cheesy it some ways, but in others quite enjoyable. As I mentioned, I have a special fondness for the Dark Hunters series because I never knew vampires could be so delicious until I read "Night Pleasures". I continue to like the Greek mythology references, although we're all over the map here with them, but that's okay. It's all part of the fun. I don't recall ever reading anything where Ms. Kenyon goes out of her way to apologize for creating such a lovable mess, and I can appreciate that. It is what it is. Some things you just enjoy, even if they're not the greatest. And tastes change over time, so a book you once loved 5 years ago may not be the same book you love today. I was aware of all of this when I started to re-read NP, and so I let go of any expectations and just enjoyed the ride.
Of course I have to mention, again, this is when we first meet Acheron, leader of the Dark Hunters and a being who's walked the earth for over 11,000 years. He's got a "partnership" with Artemis since he's in charge of the group but Artemis still owns their souls. What do we know about him? He's very tall, been around almost forever, looks young, has long hair that he changes the color with his moods (it's green when he first comes on the scene). And the dude's got powers. Amazing powers. And then there's that whole deal with Artie....
But moving on. I liked that while Kyrian is a dangerous hunter, he also retains some of his humanity. He can be quite funny and blase' about what he does. After all, he's been alive a looong time (though not even close to as how long Acheron's been walking the earth) so there's not much he hasn't seen or done. He now has a purpose - to kill daimons - and he does it very well. Amanda has him thinking of things he hasn't thought of since he was human - a home, family - and part of him longs for it, while another part believes deep down it can never be. All he can do is keep her safe.
I liked Amanda right from the start. Even though she's conservative and resistant to her true nature, she's not going around with a stick up her ass. She's a very warm, caring person, and while initially she is distrustful of Kyrian, she soon is fighting there right alongside him. And once Amanda commits to something, she's in it with her whole heart. At one point, the climax of the story, she has to be braver than she's ever been, and despite her incredible fear, she pulls it off. It's a crucial moment and she doesn't even waver. I remember the first time I read that scene, and I was on pins and needles. It wasn't quite as gripping this time around, but I was still drawn into it.
So yeah, this series isn't perfect by any means, but it's like a comfortable old chair you just can't get rid of. I decided not to read all the books right in a row, so it may be a little bit before I go onto the next one, but I'll get there. Eventually.
Rating: **** out of *****
Labels: quickie reviews, Sherrilyn Kenyon