I found this series a few years ago and I was able to read the first 5 books in five consecutive days. I was hooked after the first section of the first book. This book is the 5th book and it is recommended to read the books in order. I think you would be fine, but it is a fuller read. This book of the series I found particularly intense.
Conrad Wroth is a Fallen, vampire, one whose red eyes are an outward representation to his downward slide into evil and insanity. He is currently being chased by a dream demon (Tarut) that taunts Conrad with “You have to have a dream to lose it”. Now Conrad must finish his goal of revenge against his brothers. Captured by his brothers (Nikolai, Murdoch, Sebastian), they try to redeem and “detoxify” him. They confined him into a remote house to do this and it just happens to be haunted, by Noemi. Noemi Laress is trapped in her house, 80 years after her murder. Now there is a violent interloper who both compels and repels her.
Details can be found about the world on the landing page.
Neomi Laress is a ghost, having spent 80 years trapped within her house reliving her death monthly. We get an understanding of how lonely she has been the only encounters with humans comes by these who live there. But by her making that contact drives them away in fear. What I like about her character is her acceptance of her needs as a woman and her understanding if the good male without the damaged outer shell of Conrad. Her love and devotion was so honest, yet not too lovey-dovey that makes you sick. She is courageous and logical as well, which I always find admirable:
“People think happiness will simply fall into their laps. You have to aspire to it. And sometimes you have to seize it when it’s kicking and screaming.”
This is a rather a good theme for this book. You are not stuck in how you start in life. It is never too late.
Conrad Wroth was turned against his will into a vampire. His bitterness against his brothers has tainted his view on all things. Now he is captured as his brothers try to rehabilitate him. A vampire must have blood to survive. Not all vampires are evil; it is how a vampire feeds that determines it. If he drinks straight from the vein (live blood) it allows the vampire to take their memories and through that their power. As we can imagine, this can drive anyone crazy, century and century of drinking.
Forebearers on the other hand, drink from the bag rather than the vein. One can tell the difference because their eyes are not red as well as other psychological symptoms like overly aggressive behaviors. The Wroth brothers have learned that the only other drive that can compete against their thirst is the need to protect their Bride.
A Bride is a vampire’s mate. They will know that by being “blooded” aka their heart is started again and it now beats for her. In fact, drinking from your mate might help alleviate his madness. But first he has to get sane enough to understand the problem. A quote from beginning in the bar to illustrate his mindset when we first meet him:
Stay sane…need to dull the rage. Until the endtime.
Inside. “Whiskey.” His voice is low, rough from disuse.
The bartender’s face falls. Like last night. Others grow skittish. Can they sense that I ache to kill? The whispers around him are like metal on slate to his ragged nerves.
The beginning of the book does an excellent job of setting the scene of his impending insanity (or even him in the midst). After his kidnapping and housing in Neomi’s haunted house, Conrad begins to suspect that she is his Bride. But how does he mate with a ghost? He cannot touch her, certainly not feed from her.
To me, there are two: redemption and rebirth. Both Neomi and Conrad are in search of a rebirth into one loves, so that they can be whole enough to be with each other. For Conrad, he must overcome his bloodlust to become sane enough to be good enough for Neomi. He must also come to terms with his brothers and what they did years ago. Neomi on the other hand, must become corporal before she can be “whole” for Conrad. She is tortured with reliving her death every month and this is draining to her. She cannot live like this forever.
I would say that for me, the personality, and relationship development is unique in this book. I love the character of Conrad, perhaps my second favorite behind Lothaire. I love the complex male character. Noemi is sassy and gentle, however, I would not consider her “typical”.
What could be better?
One of the “tricks” of this series is how things look hopeless and it usually has a “Romeo and Juliet” trope, where one will try to sacrifice. It is both strength and a weakness. The strength is how Ms. Cole imbues the story with emotions. The weakness is in the same type of conflict in each book. Boy meets girl, girl begins to trust boy, bad circumstances happen and girl/boy must sacrifice for the other. If you read all of these books you get to expect something horrible will happen.
What I like about this book is that it is mostly a relationship / character development novel. Ms. Cole is amazing at how she portrays the emotions of both without touching. I specifically loved the sweetness of their first physical sex scene. It was one of the most emotionally charged scenes that I have ever read and it was nice to see an Alpha male that did not just do the “I am stud, hear my roar” when they first have sex.
Overall, a good book, not my favorite, but a solid read.