Midnight Rising by Lara Adian
Dylan Alexander is a talented journalist who is overseas enjoying a vacation with friends of her mothers. During a walk, she wanders away from the group and encounters a cave with strange markings. She has photographed these and a homeless man she observed in the caves before said homeless man frightens her away.
Rio is hiding in the caves having volunteered for the job of sealing in evidence about his kind – a group of vampires created by an alien race. Rio has been engaged in a battle against the Rogue vampires for much of his life. In book one, Kiss of Midnight, Rio’s mate betrayed him, causing the death of one of his blood brothers and causing irreparable physical and emotional damage to Rio. He takes on the duty of sealing the cave because he sees this opportunity to end his miserable life. But instead of discharging his duties, he’s been wrestling with his decision. Something is preventing him from taking that final step. He’s in stasis, growing half mad.
He felt dizzy with anger, his head spinning so badly it buckled his knees. He went down on the hard ground like his body was made of lead. He heard the detonator skid into the dust somewhere, but he didn’t reach for it. His arms were too heavy and his head was weightless, his consciousness floating, detached from reality, like his mind wanted to separate from the wreck of the body that caged it and fly away to escape.
Dylan’s arrival and subsequent photography of the cave drawings and of him spur him into action. He cannot allow his brothers to suffer yet again at his own hands. He tracks Dylan to her hotel room; threatens her and ultimately kidnaps her to be taken back to headquarters.
This is a captivity story and with these stories, it is always going to be a struggle for me to believe that the heroine actually loves the person who kidnaps her, threatens her, terrorizes her family and friends, destroys her life and leaves her with few options, none of her own making. The first physical encounter between Dylan and Rio exemplifies that challenging nature of this dynamic. Rio is an unwashed mass of a man who breaks into Dylan’s hotel room and then physically subdues her. When he is pressed against her, she can feel his erection. Rather than terrified at the idea of being violated by this scarred, unwashed, crazy man, she’s aroused and responsive. Dylan’s quick assimilation of her situation does her credit but her quick tumble into love was hard to swallow.
Where this book shines is the nuances that are brought to the characterizations of the villians and world building. I was talking to Robin about this book she mentioned that the villians have varying degrees of wrongness. For example, Eva, Rio’s dead wife who betrayed him, was not demonized. I thought it took some deft writing to make me feel for Eva because Rio himself is eaten by her betrayal yet I felt quite a bit of sympathy for her. Rio had battled for so long and was constantly exposed to danger, century after century. Eva’s betrayal was done because she believed that her actions might end the war and end the danger to her beloved. It is Eva, in fact, who brings Dylan to Rio to save Rio. The ultimate act of self sacrifice.
There was another villian who was presented to the readers in a sympathetic light. These nuances add alot of depth to the story and made the book strong emotionally in many places, but not with the main characters. I wasn’t really convinced of the organic evolution of the love or whether Dylan loved Rio because he was the hero and she was the heroine. C+