Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book review: Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (January 24, 2012)

Blurb: In the dark of night, a blood war escalates within the hidden world of the Breed. After existing in secret for many long centuries, maintaining a fragile peace with the humans who walk beside them unaware, a single act of retaliation has put the entire vampire nation at risk of discovery. It falls to the Order—a cadre of Breed warriors pledged to protect their own and humankind alike—to stop Dragos, the power-mad vampire at the center of the conflict, before his push for domination can explode into catastrophe.

At the center of the Order’s quest is Sterling Chase, once a morally rigid enforcer of Breed law, now a warrior fallen from grace, whose biggest battle is the one he wages against his own savage nature. With addiction beckoning him toward eternal darkness, Chase’s path to redemption has never seemed more out of reach. But when his eyes meet those of Tavia Fairchild, a beautiful witness who identifies him at the scene of a mission gone terribly wrong, Chase finds himself drawn to the woman—and convinced she is something much more than she seems.

Pulled into a vortex of intrigue and danger she can neither resist nor understand, Tavia is uncertain whom to trust. And while everything sane and logical warns her against getting close to Chase, she cannot deny that the handsome, deeply haunted male stirs something primal and ravenous within her. But even as she surrenders to her cravings, nothing can prepare her for the shattering truth of who—and what—she truly is.

As the Order’s enemy mobilizes for the battle of the ages, Dragos and his Minions unleashing a hell on Earth like nothing ever seen before, Chase and Tavia are thrust into the heart of the violence. With time running out and the streets running red with the blood of innocent lives, both Breed and human, together Chase and Tavia must find a way to defeat Dragos once and for all—or die trying.

My review: The Midnight Breed series is one of my favorite adult paranormal reads. I approached this tenth edition with sadness thinking the series would end here, but I have read the author has signed to do two or three more books. After reading this book, I have to wonder, if Dragos is gone, who will the baddie be now?

As usual, Lara Adrian threw us a nice curve ball with the addition of a female Breed. COOL.  A chick with mad fighting skills and glyphs? So cool...and such an intriguing development in a beloved series. It took some time for me to like Tavia. I wasn't believing her I'm-an-adult-still-living-with-and-having-my-aunt-direct-my-life-for-me shtick. I understood about the burn scars on her skin to a degree but I didn't buy it. She was an intelligent career woman, had a good position with a politician, but never looked into having her skin checked by another doctor? As for her falling for Sterling, I felt his connection to her but I never felt hers. What she felt was more like a blood addiction to Sterling than love.

Sterling. I liked Sterling, even in his bloodlust and his entire going downhill suicide run. I was thrilled to see him in his own story and he kept me a fan. Watching his inner struggles with his addiction and his dealings with Tavia truly fleshed him out as a stellar guy. The police station scene was a highlight in this novel and I would be ecstatic if this series was made into a movie franchise or wound up on HBO. One thing that bothered me was the lack of continuity with his bloodlust story angle. His addiction seemed to fall to the wayside after his involvement with Tavia. I know others have commented on the quickness of the main characters falling in love. I've always equated the pairings of Breed men and their mates to the equivalent of a show like "24"--quick. These are supernatural creatures. I don't think they'll do the whole "wooing thing" for six months. Sterling handled his attraction with justification and emotion and in the end let his heart via Breed genetics take control.

 Aside from my difficulty believing certain character traits, I did get involved with Tavia and Sterling's story. The Breed warriors and their mates have a long and elaborate history. By now they seem like a strange paranormal family to me, one I've come to enjoy immensely. I knew Dragos would finally meet his end in this book but when it happened I thought his demise was anti-climatic. His scene lasted a few pages and boom! He's done for.  Really? Honestly, I felt as if from this scene on until the ending was rushed. There has been such a tremendous build-up to the end of the Big Evil Guy and then ithappenedthis fast. As a long time fan I felt letdown. I have read, and for the most part, loved this series and I expected something more, may I dare say, spectacular, to the end (or quasi-end as it now seems).

And one more thing--the Epilogue. Too tidied up for me. I'm not keen on the Breed revealing themselves to the humans (especially the President) and then appearing at the U.N. I always thought the Breed sought secrecy in their role of protecting the humans so this last minute addition seemed too comic book for me (and I like comic books).

Darker After Midnight was a fast paced and exciting read. Did I mention tension? Enticing love scenes? I still have many questions regarding this series and wonder what the author will do next. She certainly has enough characters to pull from, including the teen boys, Kellan and Nathan, the seer, Kira, Jenna and her Ancient Elder blood changing her into I don't know what and all of the Breed babies. Despite my grumblings and concerns, I flew through this book as usual and will read anything Lara Adrian publishes. She's that good and I'm still that loyal.

Rating: I wanted to love it but liked it. 

Favorite excerpt: "He had a hundred reasons to simply turn and walk away as he'd intended all along. A hundred more reasons why a female as rare and unique, as miraculous, as Tavia deserved a better male--hell, any other male--than him. She deserved someone good and true, someone worthy, to usher her into the life that awaited her as one of the Breed.

But God help him, as he looked at her now, as he felt her touch ignite a heat all the way into his marrow, Chase felt a surge of possessiveness so complete and powerful, it left him shaking.

He didn't want to crave her. Not on top of his other, hellish addictions. Blood and violence had nearly destroyed him. Looking at Tavia as she was now, naked and dripping under the shower, so lovely in her transformation from beautiful woman to glorious Breed female, Chase could hardly imagine a more consuming want than what he felt when he was near her.

But as fevered as that need was, he touched her with utmost tenderness. One hand slipping beneath the wet curtain of her hair, he cupped her nape and gently drew her close. He kissed her, only the barest, briefest brushing of his lips against hers."

Cover comment: My biggest gripe with this series of covers is the lack of glyphs. Glyphs, people, glyphs! Photoshop some in, just put some body art on these warriors and then I'll take these covers more seriously. Look at this cover--two people have glyphs, not just the male this time. Where is the ink? Below the bodies, not on them.

Book source: Received from library.

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