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Monday, December 12, 2011

Night Reigns by Dianne Duvall

Night Reigns by Dianne Duvall
Publisher: Zebra Books/Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (393 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Ami isn’t much for trusting strangers. She has a hard time trusting anyone. But she’s no coward, and she’s no pushover in the protection department either. So when she comes across a mysterious warrior taking on eight deranged vampires on his own, she doesn’t hesitate to save his bacon. Of course, that was before she realized what one little rescue would get her into…

Marcus Graden has been an Immortal protector of humanity for eight hundred years, and he’s not interested in backup. From the moment Ami arrives in his life, he can’t deny that she’s strong, smart, and extremely skilled at watching his back. But she’s also destroying his protective solitude and stirring desires he can’t bear to awaken. After all, whatever her secrets—how can she defeat death itself?

I enjoy reading about a woman who defies the odds and expectations of others; to not only wow the other characters in a book, but stuns and amazes a reader too. Ms. Duvall does all that and more in the second installment of her hard hitting but cheeky Immortal Guardian series.

Night Reigns gave me not only another great tale but a surprising twist at the three quarters mark that knocked my socks off. Never could I have imagined where the story would take me, certainly not what was revealed! Because of this new slant, Night Reigns ends up being a clever, unique, and brilliantly executed book that readers will appreciate. Paranormal fans are going to be thrilled at the novel direction Ms. Duvall has taken because it breathes new life into what we think we know about vampires and their battles, and their origins.

When I refer to ‘cheeky’, I’m talking about the underlying sense of humor and fun the main characters have with their friends, amongst themselves and with other secondary characters. The author did an amazing job of infusing personality and emotion into the story and her placement of when she has the protagonist’s joking around seemed real, timely and very natural. It made the hero and heroine very likable and insured that I’d be very interested in the secondary characters when their turn to be in the spotlight arrives. Believe me, Ms. Duvall has peppered her tales with secondary characters well-rounded enough to inspire a commitment from me to read about every one of the amazing men who make up the team of Immortal Guardians. There were wonderful hints of conflict, of men who resist love or don’t think it’ll ever happen to them. Not in their line of ‘work’.

My favorite cheekiness is between the hero, Marcus and the heroine, Ami. Their flirting was thoroughly entertaining and the repartee quick and witty. Even when the drama and suspense had me biting my nails, it wasn’t overly dark or depressing. The conflict was solid and well thought out.

Ami was the biggest surprise for me. She had been through so much horror in her life that to find her willing to stand by her man, once she admits he is her man, even though it meant facing a fear that practically crippled her, was an amazing journey of growth. One that completely engaged me. Despite all the reasons she has to mistrust people, she doesn’t shy away from learning all she can to be the best she can be.

Marcus on the other hand, is at first, a jerk. He’s not actually written that way but from what I could tell from the other secondary characters, he had a certain reputation. They respected him, thought fondly of him, when they didn’t want to whap him upside the head, and they feared for him. He was in a dark place in his life when the story opened. His healing journey and his eventual opening up of his heart was wonderfully done. He certainly was and is an effective Guardian, and I’d trust him to guard me anytime, but he had a long way to go to brush up on his ‘people’ skills.

The one person who kept him in line, for the most part, was Seth. He’s sort of a father figure, mentor and boss. He’s also one of those fascinating secondary characters I referred to earlier. There’s something about him that is quite intriguing. He’s a mystery. However, in Night Reigns, the author laid the groundwork for some very thought provoking possibilities that begs further exploration. If the author’s intentions were to hook a reader on future books, she was successful. Add Roland and Chris into the mix and there’s plenty of deliciousness, conflict and interest to go around. On top of that are Darnell and David – more characters that make up the Guardian community. At times, while reading, I felt like I was in a candy store. So many choices to choose from -- who will Ms. Duvall write about next? I can’t wait to find out!

My immediate satisfaction was guaranteed at least with Marcus and Ami. Before the protagonists hit the sheets, Ms. Duvall seduced my brain earlier on with a wonderful sensual buildup. That’s one of the things that were so great about this story. When the heat between the two finally combusted, the author’s use of language made it crystal clear how satisfying the physical relationship was between them. Even the happily ever after was romantic and sentimental. But not too sappy; the other Guardians made sure of that. One of my favorite giggles came from what Marcus imagined to make his point with Seth. I had fun.

Night Reigns is another jewel from the talented Ms. Duvall. This story is action packed with sultry shenanigans and diabolical bad guys, guaranteeing readers a book filled with adventure and romance. Marcus and Ami are a great couple and watching them fall in love was completely entertaining and fun. The ideas are fresh and the story arc more complex than at first believed. I suspect that Ms. Duvall has more surprises up her sleeve for characters and readers alike. I want to be first in line for her next book because this series is just that good.