Author ~ Paul Comeau
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 30th December 2016
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance
When young Danny Crawford’s father and a priest conspire to subject him to conversion therapy, Danny only sees one way out. But little does Danny know he’ll soon have a sentinel watching from the darkness, a guardian angel in the most unlikely form imaginable.
Damien, a vampire, is inexplicably moved by Danny’s plight. He takes it upon himself to make sure Danny’s father and the priest can never hurt him again, giving Danny a chance at a normal life. As Danny grows up, Damien struggles to keep the boy—and later the young man—from harm. He does not dare go any further, no matter how much he wants to. To do so would ruin everything he’s tried to do for Danny. He doesn’t realize that as Danny embarks on a successful modeling career and begins dating, Danny feels empty, longing for something—or someone—just beyond his reach: a shadow, a presence he despairingly believes forever lost to him.
When brutality and violence threaten Danny again, Damien must make a decision—risk revealing himself to Danny, or leave Danny to his fate.
There are so many things to say about this book. The first is that I absolutely loved it. I suppose it should be classed as horror because it is bloodthirsty in places, but it is also a sweet, if somewhat creepy, love story. (No, I’m not talking about Twilight, this one is so much better).
I suppose I should mention that the book is chock-full of triggers. If you have a trigger, you’ll probably find it in this book – physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, religious intolerance, religious dogma, anti-religion…and that’s just off the top of my head. Is it gratuitous? Hell no. In my opinion, nothing is said that didn’t need to be said.
I have to admit that I wasn’t too fond of Damien at the start. As a human, he was arrogant, egocentric, selfish, thoughtless, uncaring, cold and thoroughly unpleasant. As a vampire, he was arrogant egocentric, selfish…powerful, merciless and a cold-hearted killer. He was so cold hearted he trawled the palliative care wards of hospitals and hospices, posing as a priest to dispense his own particular kind of mercy to the dying.
All that changes when he meets Danny, a scared, abused teen in the hospital after a suicide attempt, in the palliative care ward because there was nowhere else to put him. After experiencing an instant connection, Damien becomes a confessor then friend to Danny, taking him in when all anyone else wanted was to pack him off to a clinic for conversion therapy.
One thing I particularly liked about the book was the way we got a peek inside the heads of not only the two main characters, but the main supporting characters, too. We get brief histories and an increasingly complex web of how they all came to be where they are and how their pasts are woven together. This made the story so much richer and filled in significant little details without the need for info dumps. On the down side, some people will undoubtedly get snippy about the amount of head-hopping that goes on. Personally, I think this is one of the “rules” of writing that should be broken more often; at least enough to make purist sit up and take notice of the fact that, when done well, head-hopping improves not detracts from a story.
The editing was pretty good with only one or two small mistakes, and all the technical boxes (except maybe the head-hopping) are ticked. Nothing pulled me out of the story and, trust me, I was in deep. This is one of the few books I’ve read recently that have stolen much-needed beauty sleep.
After meeting Danny, Damien changes, but not too much; too fast. Although he warms considerably and becomes far more likeable, he remains true to his nature. One by one, the people who made Danny’s life a misery, or who threaten his new-found happiness, are dispatched in an entirely cold-blooded way. I won’t put in too many spoilers but OMG the death of the priest was AMAZING.
Either the author has personal experience of Catholicism or did some pretty extensive research. The book is filled with beautiful little details which had me looking up things like, who was St Sebastian, and The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962 – 1965) which promoted the use of the vernacular in mass rather than Latin. See, I learned something! That’s not to say that it necessitates you looking up anything. My interest in the Vatican Council came from a throwaway comment about the positioning of the Vatican II altar. I wanted to know what a Vatican II altar was, so I looked it up. It was just my curiosity leading me to find out more. The point is that the book is full of rich little details that I found fascinating.
My favourite part of the entire book was the school play. Oh my, did it have some amazing description and so many layers of meaning!
All in all, I thoroughly recommend this book. A bloodthirsty, cold hearted vampire, who starts off apparently irredeemable, gradually redeems himself – while not changing his bloodthirsty nature one bit – through his endearing devotion to a wounded young man who slowly heals under the vampire’s tender care. It is after a shocking incident when Danny is hurt, that we really get to see Damien’s “humanity” reasserting itself, even as he rips the head off a hairy biker.
If I have any complaints at all they would be that Danny accepts, and becomes comfortable with, Damien’s vampiric nature just a little too easily, and that there could have been a little more examination of what Damien was actually feeling. That’s not to say the book has no emotional depth. Anyone who follows my reviews will know full well that I have no patience with books that have no depth and that is certainly not the case here.
If you like paranormal romance bordering on graphic horror this is definitely your book. If you’re looking for sweet romance with sanitized, sparkling vampires you’d better stay away.
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