Lord of the Vampires
August 23, 2011, Harlequin Nocturne. $5.50
Nicolai the Vampire was renowned for his virility, but in a twist of fate “The Dark Seducer” had become a sex slave in the kingdom of Delfina—stripped of his precious timepiece and his memory. All that remained was a primal need for freedom, revenge—and the only woman who could help him.
In her dreams, a wanton vampire called to Jane Parker, drawing her to his dark sexuality and his magical realm. But for a human, all was not a fairy tale in Delfina. Jane was the key to Nicolai’s memory…but exploiting her meant dooming the only mortal he craved…
Gena Showalter will need no introduction to readers here, but the new Royal House of Shadows quartet, forthcoming from Harlequin Nocturne, might. In this intriguing new series, Showalter and her Steam Dream Team, consisting of authors Jill Monroe, Jessica Andersen, and Nalini Singh, re-imagine beloved fairy tales within a decidedly grown-up context as they relate the efforts of four royal siblings to reunite and defeat the evil sorcerer who killed their parents and usurped their throne. Along the way, they make time for a lot of the kind of action you probably won’t encounter in the pages of the Brothers Grimm. These are certainly not the fairy tales your grandmother told you.
Lord of the Vampires is the first book in the series, and per Showalter herself the inspiration for this one came from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of Alice as a fairy tale…but I can sort of roll with it in this case. Here’s why.
First, like all good fairy tales, it begins with “Once upon a time”:
Once upon a time, in a land of vampires, shape-shifters and witches, the Blood Sorcerer coveted the only power denied him: the power to rule. He and his monstrous army attacked the royal palace, slaughtered the beloved king and queen of Elden and sought to do the same to Nicolai, the crown prince, as well as his three siblings, Breena, Dayn and Micah.
Fortunately, the Blood Sorcerer doesn’t quite manage to kill the princes and princess:
Just before expelling his final breath, the king used his power to fill his offspring with an unbreakable need for vengeance, ensuring they would fight for eternity to claim their due. At the same time, the queen used her power to send them away, saving them. For the time being…
In fact, Nicolai is caught with his pants down when the dual spells strike, and because “desires…mingled with the magic” he’s transported directly to the Sex Market, where—being a strapping sort—he’s quickly snapped up by a Princess of nearby Delfina, who wipes his memory and sexually enslaves him…for twenty long years.
Meanwhile, quantum physicist Jane Parker has recently left her top-secret government job studying vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night after experiencing a terrible personal tragedy. One day, a mysterious book appears on her doorstep. It tells the story of a tormented, enslaved, and very magnetic vampire, and it definitely—shall we say—captures her attention:
Raw images tore through her. This man—this vampire—bound, helpless. Hungry. His lush lips were pulled taut, his teeth sharp, white. He was surprisingly tanned, temptingly muscled, with dark, mussed hair and a face so eerily beautiful he would haunt her nighttime fantasies for years to come.
The book exerts a mysterious pull on her, and before she knows it, Jane is transported “down the rabbit hole” to Delfina, where Crown Prince Nicolai remains the prisoner of the evil princess. When they meet, their attraction is immediate, and before long Jane is involved in activities that young Alice never even considered:
“He. Is. Mine. Nothing more needs to be said.”
Wrong words. The claim—he is mine—affected him, giving birth to a savage animal inside him. Hers, he was hers, and he would have her before he left her, no matter the consequences. Over and over again. In every way imaginable. He would drink her, possess her body.
…And believe me, things only get hotter from there.
When Nicolai and Jane aren’t doing things that would make Grandma blush, they deal with an evil queen and her equally dastardly daughter, a cadre of ogres, a potent vampire curse, a rather convoluted system of magic, and their own tragic pasts. But in the end, magic makes everything better, and a Happily Ever After is assured:
“I don’t want to lose you. I can’t lose you. I want to wed you. To be with you always. I choose you, Jane. Over my crown, my people and my vengeance.”
… “Just as I choose you,” she said brokenly.
Awwww. But wait! This isn’t really the end. Breena, Dayn, and Micah—remember them?—are still out there, and the Blood Sorcerer (whom we don’t even meet in this volume, to my most bitter disappointment) still occupies the throne in Elden. (What do you want to bet that Nicolai gets to keep his woman AND his crown?) The action will pick up in September with Volume 2, Jill Monroe’s Lord of Rage, which will be Breena’s story, based on—wait for it—“Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
Kate Nagy is Editor at Large of Geek Speak Magazine.