Series: Royal House of Shadows, Book 1; Harlequin Nocturne
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 288 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Harlequin via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Multi-Author Series Debut
The king and queen of Elden were brutally slaughtered by a power-hungry Blood Sorcerer, their dying breaths given over to the spells that would save their four children and secure their kingdom. It didn't quite work out that way, though, and their eldest son, crown prince Nicolai, was cast into a slave market and sold as a sex slave, his memory stripped from him by a vicious master. The only connection he had to who he was, to his younger brothers and sister, was a timepiece that was stolen from him.
Nicolai isn't a normal prince. His queen mother was a witch, and his father an intensely powerful vampire. Nicolai is both. He casts a spell for help, reaching across dimensions to another world and bringing quantum physicist Jane Parker into his realm. She's been dreaming of vampires for months - one vampire in particular, actually - so when she receives an odd package containing a peculiar book, and reads from it's pages a story of a vampire that is as familiar to her, she's not sure what to think.
When she passes out and wakes up in another realm, however, then comes face to face with a stunning specimen of masculinity locked in a cage, Jane knows exactly what to think. Come to mama. She knows what he is, has seen others of his kind in her own world... experimented on them...but this one, Nicolai, stirs things in her soul. Freeing him from slavery is hard enough, dangerous enough, but what Nicolai needs is his memory back. She has to help him before she slips back to her own world and loses him forever.
I'm a Showalter fan from way back. I love the humor that she threads into her stories, the sizzling sensuality, and the lovable characters. And all those things shine brightly in her newest book, Lord of the Vampires. Jane and Nicolai were a lot of fun to read. The chemistry between them was smoking and I loved how Nicolai got all überalpha when Jane was threatened.
Their story was enjoyable, the external conflict well-executed, and the romance arc rather typical for the genre, but entertaining. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series by the other authors.
Where this story started to falter for me was with Jane's shaky backstory. The science stuff was very sparse and ill-defined, her history a quagmire of half-explained comments and alluded to events. It's never quite clear just what she does in the human world beyond being a scientist of some kind, and how that relates to her being able to move between realms is a mystery that's never suitably solved.
My issue with that aspect of the story led me to notice other holes in the plot, or developments that were a stretch to believe. I was never sure how Nicolai got the book to Jane, not once but twice, and never clear on why his spell would cross realms and work on Jane but the witch's magic didn't. And I have no clue why Jane was able to do what she could do by - seemingly - force of will alone. I had issues with other aspects of the plot, and the ubiquitous relationship conflict fell completely flat when Jane's presence in Nicolai's world was at risk for an event that took place in her very shaky backstory that was never suitably fleshed out.
This is a book that had fully entertaining highs and some pretty big lows. Showalter fans should enjoy Jane and Nicolai, but the plot holes and ill-defined gaps in world building and backstory kept me from enjoying the book as much as I'd hoped. It's a series I look forward to continuing, though, because one of the aspects that did appeal was the glimpse Showalter gave at Nicolai's siblings' and their history before everything went so horrifyingly wrong in Elden. It'll be interesting to see what the collaborating authors do with their tales.
Royal House of Shadows:
And the final installment by Nalini Singh: Lord of the Abyss