Lord of the Vampires (Royal House of Shadows #1)

By Gena Showalter

Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Netgalley

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with a need for vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.

Nicolai the Vampire is renowned for his virility, but in a cruel twist of fate “The Dark Seducer” has become a sex slave in the kingdom of Delfina—stripped of his precious timepiece and his memory. All that remains is a primal need for freedom, revenge—and the only woman who can help him.

When the wanton vampire summons Jane Parker, she is helpless to obey. She’s drawn to his dark sexuality and into his magical realm. But for this human, all is not a fairy tale. For saving Nicolai could mean losing the only man she’s ever craved…

Goodreads Summary

Nicolai is a vampire, chained as a sex slave for the amusements of the sadistic duo Princesses Odette and Laila in a place without time called Delfina. Jane is recovering from an accident that killed her family and left her unable to walk for a year and lives alone in a cabin, isolated from the modern world. The two are linked though, first through dreams of each other and then through a book that appears on Jane’s doorstep beckoning her to come to Nicolai and save him. Already half in his thrall from dreams, she reads the final lines in the book and slips over from her time into his.

In his cell, Nicolai waits for Jane. He’s cloaked her in the body of Princess Odette, who he murdered and now has miraculously returned. He doesn’t expect Jane to be attractive, smart and the urge to claim her as his own is instinctive. When Odette’s family interferes and tries to hurt her before she can rescue him, he goes berserk and destroys a small battalion of men on their way out of the castle.

While his original intent was only to use Jane to free him from the castle, he’s unwilling to let her go now. He has the same burning need for vengeance against some unknown person that drove him to contact her in the first place, but now it’s been joined by an equally strong possessive instinct towards her. He has no memories before being at the slave market when Odette bought him though, no idea how to break the curse keeping him in Delfina, no way of knowing if he’s promised to someone in a home he doesn’t remember and no guarantee that he can keep Jane with him in this time if he does claim her.

This is the first book in four part series, each book to be written by a different author and released the following month. It’s a great line-up of authors too – besides Showalter, there’s Jill Monroe, Jessica Anderson and Nalini Singh. The set up for each book (and the series) is the same – one day The Blood Sorcerer attacked the royal castle in Elden, killing the King and Queen. They hastily cast spells to protect their four children before they died – from the King, a spell to seek vengeance; from the Queen, a spell to send each child to a different kingdom for their protection. Because they were weakened from their injuries, the spells warped and became more than they intended. Each of the children were cast out of the castle, their memories of their lives in Elden and of each other wiped clean – all they know is the deep, powerful need to have vengeance, but they don’t know for what.

Nicolai was really the star of the book – and I’d rather focus on him than on Jane for a while anyway – and I liked him generally in spite of himself. His “past” self, the one from his memories that he was regaining, was the most interesting. He was an impetuous, undisciplined young man and I thought those parts of the book that had him interacting with the father he’d lost were some of the best. I can’t say that the man he was now wasn’t a sexy beast, but he was a little too heavy on the beast. He grunted out things like, “Mine. Don’t touch.” He did it a lot. I expected him to lift up one of his knuckles that were dragging on the ground so he could pick a nit from Jane’s hair.

Half of the time I felt like Jane was used more as a plot device than a character. Her parents and brother had been killed in a car accident and she’d been paralyzed for an entire year. There were mentions made of her scars and the fact that she got tired after a while, but that was sort of it. I didn’t expect it to be a major part of the book, but why give her such a traumatic back story if there was no point to it? It only ended up bugging me that it was ignored. Even before being contacted in her dreams by Nicolai, she knew of the existence of vampires. Why, you ask? Because she works in quantum physics and in a little hush-hush side project, a group of them have captured some. She just seemed very Superwoman, especially when she had Nicolai reduced to grunting “mine,” at her all the time.

By now it seems like I didn’t like the book much. That’s not completely true and it’s really because of Showalter’s writing talent. She knows how to build drama, how to write a sensual scene and how to write action. She’s written really good paranormal romance for a while and it shows. There were intricacies here that built a vivid world full of nasty witches, evil princesses, ogres, vampires and sorcerers.

My Summary: I ended up reading this twice and at the end realized the overriding thought I had was that this felt like a smaller category-sized book bursting at the seams wanting to be a longer novel. Each time I thought the story was heading for a long emotional rollercoaster there was a sort of deflating quick resolution to the problem. I still enjoyed the ride (even though a caveman was in my car), thanks to the skill of the author and look forward to the next installment.

My Rating: B-

Barbara

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