A hem. Well, it's not exactly hard to figure out that this blog is about vampires and vampire-related stories (hence the name, Vamps R Us). But, as the realm of paranormal romance and urban fiction grows ever larger and more popular, so too does the range of creatures inhabiting that realm. This next review is certainly a paranormal romance, but there is not a vampire to be found. So I'm breaking one of the rules here, or perhaps just expanding the range of our dear ole blog sweet blog, to include some of the other paranormal creatures and specially-abled humans who round out the paranormal worlds we all love so well.
Lisa Child's Damned is the first Harlequin (in this case under the Silhouette Nocturne line) that I have ever read. I realize many romance fans get their start with Harlequin, but it's taken me a while to finally hit the world's leading romance juggernaut. My first impression is favorable.
"Police officer Ty McIntyre was cursed to find a girl no one had seen in twenty years. And it was his job to save her from the dark forces swirling around her. He found her locked away in a psychiatric hospital, where she thought she was losing her mind. Born a witch, Irina Cooper was able to read other people's thoughts. She had never known the source of her power, or her true heritage--until now.
Irina could read Ty's true intentions and sense his deepest desires. But with a witch killer seeking to destroy the Cooper legacy, could these ill-fated souls embrace Irina's gift and end her family's curse? And beyond that, would they be able to save each other"
Damned is the third (and so far final) book in the Witch Hunt trilogy, a series that follows the lives of three sister witches who were separated as children and must, as adults, find one another in order to stop a centuries old witch hunt from ending their lives. I have not yet read either of the first two stories in this trilogy (Haunted or Persecuted). Even so, I had no issue reading Damned. The story, though building on it's predecessors, functions well individually, explaining reoccurring characters from the first two books and the importance of those characters when necessary. I never once felt lost or as if I was missing out on something by reading this book out of order. I also liked knowing the resolution of the trilogy, even though this book does end in a way that allows for future books should Childs decide to write them.
Like all Harlequin/Silhouette novels, Damned is short in length, only 272 pages, making it a very fast read. This length doesn't allow for a great deal of backstory or for many secondary characters; the hero and heroine have to live in the moment and the past is something that influences their decisions while remaining largely a mystery. That being understood, Damned presents a cohesive story that is interesting as well as enticing. Personally, I would like to know more about the hero, heroine, and villain. I want to get inside their heads and their memories, knowing exactly what causes them to think, act, and speak as they do. But then, I tend to be a fan of the 500+ page works of single title authors. For the length allotted, Childs is able to build a compelling story with likeable characters and a villain who is frighteningly psychotic.
The negatives? I thought there was a too much repetition of certain themes and plot elements (we get it already, the heroine's missing some memories due to substance abuse, move on!). The insecurities that primarily define the heroine (Irina) and influence her actions stem from her fear of abandonment and poor self image. I think they could have been more compelling and realistic if they were rooted in her telepathic abilities. Yes, her telepathy allowed her heightened awareness of the disapproval others felt for her and urged her into decisions that further lowered her self image, but it could have been further explained and investigated. I feel as though Childs missed an opportunity by not doing so. Also, the HEA is wrapped up too neatly, losing realism. I like a good HEA as much as the next romance reader (or I'd pick another genre), but I want it to be in line with the characters' actions. I want the HEA to ring true. This one was too sudden and forced. The timing was right, but everything else about the scene was not. The hero lost his believability, and that damaged my overall impression of the story.
Regardless, I enjoyed Damned and will happily read the first two books in the series as soon as I have the opportunity.