A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Beautiful vampire romance, where the characters carried the book for me.
Roman centurion Dominic drew his last human breath during the time of Hadrian. In the centuries since, he’s seen much of the world change around him, but the vampire finds himself held captive in Melbourne, Australia, by his fascination with young, passionate, fun-loving, and alive tattoo artist Michael Chapman. Unable to resist the lure of Michael’s beauty, Dominic finds himself entering the parlor to get a tattoo he knows will fade.
The attraction he feels only grows, and despite Dominic’s extreme reluctance to get involved with a human, he and Michael form a bond—a connection that all too soon attracts the attention of a dark specter from Dominic’s bloody past. Soon, a dangerous game of cat and mouse threatens not only the budding romance, but also their humanity.
This is an expanded novel based on the novella Ink originally published in the Desire Beyond Death anthology by Dreamspinner Press.
There are some writers in this genre who have written brilliant books which stand on the list of my favorites, but unfortunately seem to disappear. Of course there are gazillions of reasons why a writer may not continue with their craft, and I respect that, but I feel sad anyway. I was so worried that Isabelle Rowan was one of these authors to completely disappear as well. Her A Note in the Margin proudly occupies its place amongst my most beloved paperbacks in this genre and ever since I read that book, I wanted more and more and more. I do remember reading one short story by her, but I could not find anything else and I gave up. Needless to say that when I saw that this book was out I grabbed it up; heck if she would have written a cook book, I would have grabbed it!
I may have mentioned in the past that I am in a stage of being tired of vampires, but as I said above, I would have probably read any book by this writer, so vampires it is. I did overall like this book very much, but unfortunately, while there are some aspects of freshness with the trope, I am afraid I did not find the descriptions of the vamps in this book to be very original.
But, I did feel that the originality was in the way the characters’ human qualities were portrayed, how they were compared and contrasted with their vampire qualities, and ultimately the characters made the story. Dominic and Michael were interesting characters because of their humanity, and as “human beings” they were appealing. While Dominic was not a unique description of an old vampire, who had been lonely for ages, I found his conflicting desires to have something with Michael and protect Michael from himself to be so beautifully done and just so believable. I also enjoyed that the author seemed to remember that her characters, who had lived for ages, would most likely not be prone to quick bursts of temper, at least maybe not as often as younger ones. 🙂 Dominic saw a lot, lived through a lot and it left an imprint on his personality. How could it not?
Michael was a breath of fresh air and my favorite character in this book (even among the secondary characters I liked as well). I really liked how he took the challenges the life threw on him head on. I loved that once he made a decision he stood by the decision, did not put a blame on anybody else, and while admitting that he could not foresee all the consequences, he was determined to make the best of it. I loved his optimism, I even loved him making rush and wrong decisions sometimes.
The tension of the first part of the story is mostly within Dominic, and Michael trying to convince him that they should be together. I thought they had great chemistry right from the beginning, and the tattoo-making scene was one of the most erotic I have ever read about, even though it was just a tattoo-making scene.
I am sorry to say that the second part of the story did not work for me as well as the first part; the pacing felt a bit off and it overall confused me somewhat. On an intellectual level I realized that the visitor from Daniel’s past that is mentioned in the blurb was needed to further examine Michael and Dominic — how much they know about each other and how much they are ready and able to stand against the darkness within themselves and outside themselves. The issue I had was that the visitor himself did not work for me because he just did not feel like a threat despite him being dark and violent. It is very hard to explain without spoilers, but I just felt that their love was strong and Michael was strong, so the challenges presented felt meaningless and useless.
Recommended despite my niggles.