Lynn Viehl is, of course, only one of many writers that has dipped her toes in the vampire genre. Her take is that vampires (here called Darkyn) are former Knights Templar that contracted a sort of viral infection that forced them to drink blood, grow fangs, have supernatural gifts and be sensitive to the sun. Oh, yes, and live very long lives. In the first book, we meet the head of the American vampires, Michael, and his lifemate, Alexandra Keller. In their story, Alex becomes a Darkyn, but not quite. She doesn’t feed from any human directly and is devoted to finding a cure for the “disease” of vampirism. Or Darkynism. Whatever. Alex and Michael make more than an appearance in this novel, as they did in Private Demons. I should mention that Alex was the first Darkyn to be made in centuries, but since her change there seem to be more on the way.
Each of the Darkyn novels so far has had an individual plot that feeds into some larger, overarching ones. There is, first of all, the fact that the High Lord of the Darkyn has appointed Michael the seigneur of the United States. Michael’s rule is in its infancy, and so it suffers from all the things that fledgling governments suffer from. Rivals who wish to usurp his power, renegade members who don’t follow rules…and I lost interest in my list already. Also concurrent is Alex’s aforementioned search for a cure. Oh, and I can’t leave out the continuing conflict between the Darkyn and the Brethren (who are basically evil priests). Each novel brings the readers and the characters further into the story. In that way, the Darkyn novels remind me of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.
That said, Viehl is not as talented a storyteller as Singh. She does not quite pull through on the romance front. Her stories are compelling and I enjoy her writing style, but through all three of the Darkyn novels that I’ve read so far, the heroes and heroines have spent more time apart than together. This would be fine except for the fact that I always end up wondering what, exactly, brings them together and keeps them together. Except, of course, for the hot sex. This is one reason why I am glad to see Alex and Michael pop up in each installment. It gives the readers a chance to see their relationship develop in a way that their own story didn’t.
By now you’re probably wondering, what about Dark Need in particular? The hero, if you can call him that, is Lucan. Lucan’s special Darkyn power is an ability to kill by touch. For many years he has acted as assassin for the High Lord, Richard. Lucan has also been the enemy/rival of Michael and was very much put out by Richard’s decision to appoint the latter as seigneur of America. Lucan is a Tragic, Misunderstood hero, who Loved and Lost. Plus, he is also Tormented By The Gift of Death. Samantha, the heroine, is also Tormented. She is an Orphan. She has an Amazing Figure that she downplays. If my random capitalization didn’t do the job for me, I will point out that many of these attributes are Paranormal Romance Standards. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Sam may or may not be a lesbian. Until she meets Lucan, of course. Then there’s no question at all. Finally, Sam has a Special Ability. Since she was shot twelve years ago, she has developed the talent of seeing the last moments of murder victims’ lives. This turns out to be both useful and convenient since Sam is a homicide detective. Sam’s occupation is also the instrument for the meeting between the two. When someone starts killing people and framing Lucan by leaving objects that link him to the crime scene, Sam and her partner get the case. When Lucan first sees Sam, he is struck by her physical resemblance to his lost love—and her ability to withstand the hypnotizing trick that is the specialty of the Darkyn.
I did enjoy reading this story, Paranormal Romance clichés or not. The problem was, I wasn’t satisfied when the book was over. I felt the story was cut off too soon. This may be because Viehl was setting her readers up for the next chapter in the Darkyn universe, but I’m guessing that the next book probably won’t feature much about Lucan and Sam. I base this assumption on the fact that Dark Need does little more than mention the hero and heroine of Private Demons in passing.
The other thing I have to confess is that I skimmed many of the later chapters with Alex’s brother John. I just plain don’t like him. He’s boring, self-righteous and altogether unsympathetic. I stopped caring about his personal journey in the first book. I just hope Viehl is going somewhere with this guy—but I’m having a hard time bringing myself to care.
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