Hearts in Darkness (Nikki & Michael #2)
Author: Keri Arthur
Publisher: Random House/Bantam Dell
Date of Publication: August 27, 2013
Private Investigator Nikki James has a lot to contend with. Her lover, Michael Kelly, walked out without so much as a goodbye, and what seemed like a simple case of stopping a runaway teen brought her face-to-face with another clutch of deadly vampires. But if that seemed bad, it is about to get a lot worse, because when Michael returns, it is not for her, but for the case.
Wealthy men are starting to vanish from a resort in Jackson Hole—which is exactly where Nikki’s runaway teen seems to be as well. Something nefarious is going on at the luxury spa, but what? The last thing Michael needs is a confrontation with Nikki—especially when his control over his bloodlust is still so tenuous. But posing as a newlywed couple at the swanky resort may be the best way for both of them to solve their respective cases. This time, Nikki is determined to make Michael see that life apart is worse than death. Yet before she can make him see the light, a specter from Michael’s past rises that could destroy any hope she has of a future with him. Because this time the threat isn’t physical. It’s a matter of the heart.
This slowly developing romance between Nikki and Michael is definitely an awesome way to move through the series. It ties the two together even as Michael is trying so very, very hard to keep them apart.
Once again, Michael is sent to Nikki by the mysterious Seline because if he doesn’t go to her and she continues on with her current investigation (one which had already landed her partner/employer in the hospital in critical condition), she’ll end up dead. If he goes with her/works with her, she has a chance to survive.
We got further introduced to the paranormal world in this book, meeting Fire Imps of a sort, capable of being bound to a human body, though it doesn’t turn out well for the human body involved (there were multiple meltings, which I have to say played out most awesomely!).
Michael’s sire, Elizabeth, makes an appearance and I was pleased to see how he ultimately dealt with her. I like the complexity he had to face, trying to deal with the woman he truly loves (now) versus the one he turned to vampirism/eternal life for (who he thought he loved at one time). While Elizabeth was definitely not an innocent by any stretch of the imagination, she certainly got a raw deal when dealing with the uber-villain of the book, a recently-turned (within a couple of years) vampire/mage. One thing bugged me about Elizabeth though, and that was the continuity about her character. At one point, Ms. Arthur comments that Elizabeth was familiar with Roman gladiators and the like, yet it was repeated many times that Elizabeth was only (only…hmmm, I’d like to only be 900 if I could still look 30) about 900 years old, well after the period of Roman gladiators. Minor, but it stuck out to me.
The fire beings were a lovely addition, and they were being horrendously mistreated. I’m glad how things worked out for them.
Nikki of course was strong-willed and utterly unwilling to let Michael protect her or shelter her in any way. When he tries to go all alpha-protector on her, she smacks him right back down and reminds him she’s her own person and she’ll go on with or without him. Wisely, he chooses to stay with her rather than trying to force her to go home and leave the Las Vegas investigation to him.
Nikki’s powers continue to develop, thanks it seems in part to the lifeforce bond Michael pushed on her in the first book. We got a further look into the vampire master/thrall connection in this book, and I’m looking forward to continuing on learning more about them.
Things wrapped up well and I’m happy to see Ms. Arthur isn’t totally torturing the pair/dragging out the relationship moving forward further than she has to. I’m sure she’ll have new curve balls to throw at these two in the next book (or two), and I’m eager to get to them on my Kindle.
Thank you so much for letting me read this. I totally give this a 5-star rating!
Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.