Title: Breathe Me In
Author: Lex Valentine
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Length: 40K words approximately
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
This review contains what could be considered spoilers
Summary Review: An intense mating leads to heartbreak, but the vampire and the magia realize just in time that without each other they might as well be in the Afterworld.
Life is good for vampire Wilson North. His family left him well off. His job as an estate attorney is prestigious, well paying, and non-demanding. He’s gay and out and never had any issues being either. In fact, until the day he ended up beneath his car, bleeding out and only a few pints of blood from a sure trip to the Afterworld, life had never been a challenge.
When Will meets his destiny in the form of an enigmatic Magia named Garrick Forrester he finds the challenge of his life. Garrick’s gay but doesn’t live an openly gay life. Instead, he hides his nature behind his ownership of a BDSM club. The two men instantly know they are mates, but that doesn’t smooth the path to their bonding. Garrick wants Will but threats from his past convince him that the only way to protect his lover is to leave him. Shocked by Garrick’s ability to walk away, Will struggles to understand why his mate doesn’t want him. For the first time in Will’s life, something isn’t easy and he must fight for what he needs or give up his chance for happiness.
Drawn together by destiny. Torn apart by self-doubts and fear. Two men on the cusp of a dream must set aside the lives they’ve always lived for a chance at a new and brilliant future.
Breathe Me In is the third book that I have read in the Tales of the Darkworld series by Lex Valentine. There are 7 books released in this series to date, and according to the author’s website she plans on writing 10 books before wrapping it up. My favourite is still Fire Season reviewed here but Sunstroked was a wonderful story and I have linked it here in case you’re interested in visiting the Darkworld. The other books are het so they have not been reviewed.
In Breathe Me In Will, a vampire, who I met and loved in Sunstroked, is in despair about ever finding his mate. He had just attended the wedding of two of his best friends who had been his former lovers before they mated, and seeing their happiness brought home to Will how empty his life was. He was jealous of their relationship and the love they shared and he wanted what they had, a mate. His recent brush with death made him realize how very fragile the immortal life of a vampire was. He had never thought about the Afterlife and the things that could kill a vampire, however when he found himself bleeding out, crushed beneath his car on the side of a freeway, he realized he had lived his life all wrong and that it might be over before he had achieved his greatest wish. As he drove away from his friends’ happy event he visited his parents’ mausoleum in the cemetery grounds where the wedding was held and sat down to ease the excruciating pain in his body that was the result of his accident.
Garrick Forrester, a magia, had woken up that morning with the persistent sense that he should visit the cemetery and meet a man, so he drove from California to Granville Cemetery and he knew as soon as he saw Will that he was his destiny. But having a bloodmate was not part of his plans even if it was his destiny, because the consequences would be too horrible to imagine, based on the curse placed on his family by his enemy Stefan Guerlain. However, he wanted Will with a passion he had never felt before. When Will heard the wizard approach he smelled his blood and knew then who he was, his bloodmate. They realized that they could not escape what was written in the stars for them and rather than fight, Garrick gave in to the need to be with Will, even if it could only be for a short time. Their mating was intense and emotional:
Lips parted, both his own and Will’s. They both sighed, breaths mingling as their hearts thudded in tandem, and they slowly, with absolute irrevocability, breathed each other in. The slightly muddied thoughts Garrick had gotten from Will only moments before shifted to an ice sharp clarity that stabbed his psyche, piercing it with the revelation that he would never be the same again. He belonged to Will. Will belonged to him. They were one whether they completed their mating or not. Destiny could be ignored, but never denied.
Tasting Will had all the qualities of sipping the finest Cabernet Sauvignon. Will’s flavor burst onto Garrick’s tongue in the same way that the wine’s tannins did, the tartness providing an edge of danger to the elegance.
Garrick, a Dom, owned an exclusive BDSM club in Paris which catered to both sexes and every sexual orientation although he kept his sexual orientation under wraps. At the moment he had some deadly issues to deal with and not even an impending bonding could change the fact that he could never take a mate, especially with his coming ascendancy to Mage which would trigger a course of action on the part of his enemies that might unleash a bloodbath. But Will had waited his entire life to find his mate and he wasn’t going to let Garrick go without a fight.
“In your heart you understand that this moment has been in the making for the whole of our lives, Garrick. We are meant to know and understand one another on a level that others do not. It’s meant to be deep and lasting and in our case at least, it’s been instantaneous.” Will drew a deep breath and let it out. “I am not going to question this. You are mine and I defy anyone to take what is rightfully mine, you included.”
I love this author because she writes with such feeling and intensity and her characters come alive on the page. Her dialogue moves me and here’s another example
“I’m going to teach you what a joy your body is to me. I love its taste and texture not just with my hands but with my mouth, my tongue. Your scent is an aphrodisiac. Breathe me in, Will. Breathe me in as I breathe in you. Want me as I want you.”
“My attraction to you is like a color photograph and all the other encounters in my life are black and white, with all the color leeched from them.”
However, as much as Will wanted his mate to acknowledge him and complete the mating, Garrick left him after a week. Will was devastated that the one person in his life that he needed above all else was not prepared to be his and despite his tendencies as a submissive he was not going to let Garrick ignore what they meant to each other. He would fight whatever Garrick was afraid would harm him even if he died in the process. However he had no idea of the powerful beings who were his mate’s enemies. Would he be able to defeat those who were determined to kill Garrick and everyone he cared about?
Once again Lex Valentine has written a story with characters who are flawed, but at the core they are wonderfully drawn to appeal to the readers’ emotions. I was sucked into Will’s and Garrick’s world as soon as their mating ritual began.
The supporting characters were just as vibrant and I admired Garrick’s brother Dave as well as Emily Carrington, a dragon, who had been Stefan’s slave years ago. Stefan owned a BDSM club called Perdition (aptly named) which was very different from Garrick’s. His methods were inhuman and consistent with the fact that he had no morals and had sold his soul. He was happiest when he was inflicting pain and mental and physical torture and all of his sycophants were of the same ilk.
The demons and other rogue beings who posed the threats in the book made the story more than the usual run of the mill paranormal adventure. Everyone was bigger than life, and then some. The final scene which was a fight to the finish between vampires, demons, dragons and other paranormal creatures was splendid in terms of its range, intensity, violence and impact and I have to say that Lex Valentine sure knows how to make her books go up in flames. If I had one concern it was about Garrick, but perhaps others needed to be forefront in the firefight and bloodbath.
If you want an adventure of the paranormal kind I don’t think you have far to go. One last point – in all the books in this series that I have read the protagonists are bonded mates, so there is the element of instant lust throughout. If that bothers you this might not be the book for you. Just saying. 🙂
Although Breathe Me In is part of a series it can be read as a standalone.