As an Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reader and reviewer, there are authors that I see everywhere; authors that everyone seems to talk about all the time. Each time yet another book release comes and goes from one of these authors I promise myself that before the next release happens I’ll finally read a book or three of the series. One such author is Sherrilyn Kenyon.
So, when I noticed how close I was to the upcoming release of Retribution, the latest addition to her Dark-Hunter series, I downloaded Fantasy Lover, the series prequel, to my ipad and set out to see what all the fuss was about, once and for all.
The prequel Fantasy Lover reads very chick-lit-esque, (a lot of fluff and very little stuff) with the protagonist summoning the hero from an ancient book to be her love slave until the “spell” wears off. Absolutely this book is about a girl and guy and the story about how the two became one, but I can see why the series took off from here. Even though it was a little too sweet at times for my taste, I was surprised with all the history that was provided for both the main characters, especially Julian the enslaved greek god, and the rich mythology throughout.
Night Pleasures still reads a little cutesy for my blood. I mean, the two protagonists meet when they’re handcuffed together, for crying out loud. But the history of the Dark-Hunter world continues to be explained, and many additional characters spark interest enough to make you curious about their stories. Don’t get me wrong, the love story is hot and all, but it was slightly wham-bam-you’remineforevernow-maam.
The slightly heftier page tally of Night Embrace (408 pages compared to the average 300ish) reveals that you’re in store for some major Dark-Hunter back-story and personal character histories, and you won’t be let down.
This is absolutely where the series hits its stride. There are secondary characters galore. There are run-ins with the Gods and the Fates, and there’s an introduction into another class of hunters called Were-Hunters. This book finally captures the enormity of the world that Kenyon carved out for her characters. Of course, there is a love story at the root of the book, but there is enough additional material to capture any reader’s interest in the world around the main characters.
Additionally, I felt like Night Embrace revealed as much about Acheron as it did about the two main characters. The ever-present, all-knowing, totally mysterious leader of the Dark Hunters, Acheron. YUM-O! This is the point in the series where I decided to create my “I <3 Ash” T-shirt and solidified me as an official D-H fan. Not only is he delicious and all mighty powerful, he’s the common thread that unites the series. This book should be labeled as Acheron Series #1
The next three books, Dance with the Devil, Kiss of the Night, and Night Play follow the mold that Kenyon created: A character in her world, whether he/she is a Dark Hunter, Dream Hunter, Were Hunter, God/Goddess, Daimon, or Human, fulfills their destiny of finding their one true love, and discovering their personal worth.
Each book has heartache and dark histories, but also touches on themes of redemption and heavy subjects like revenge and betrayal. It came together to create well-rounded, interesting characters that make mistakes and fumble around just like us… only with immortality and razor-sharp fangs.
Not every single book was a home run for me, but each book was engaging and interesting in it’s own way, and have I mentioned steamy? Some of the romance is a slow burn, while others are hot and heavy from the very beginning, but all of them will capture a reader’s heart. You’ll root for the couple to “make it,” not just because it’s their book or because the sex is electric. After they spill their hearts out to you, you’ll realize that you’ve become attached to them. You’ll only want good things for them.
I knew that it would be impossible to catch up entirely since the series will hit 20 books next month. I flew through the first 6 books quick enough though to encourage me further in my quest. It wet my appetite enough in the world and the characters to know that I want more…. Lots and lots of “more”.
So if you’re like me and think it’s too hard to start this series, let me promise you it’ll be the most exciting and delicious challenge you’ve ever set for yourself. And this summer is the perfect time to start.
Jessica Turner reviews Urban Fantasy, Paranormal and Sc-Fi Romances on her site The Spinecracker and is a trained chef who lives in San Diego with her very Irish husband.