Content Warning: sex described with more euphemism than descriptive diction, falling in love with the captor, sex in inappropriate places, and tons of lying (if that sort of thing bothers you like it does me).
Oh, Katie. Can I call you Katie? Probably not. Katie MacAlister’s 3rd book in the Dark Ones series is largely a rehash of what was contained in the 2nd book. Well, except the female protagonist has even less personality. Nell Harris is a medieval history professor in the United States. When a woman in Prague calls with the promise of a 14th century artifact, Nell hurries over. Except the woman, Melissande, tricked Nell. Somehow, Melissande knows that one time her in life Nell tried to charm a curse, so, naturally, Nell is the right person to help Melissande track down her nephew, who is missing. Right? Right.
Melissande is a “dark one,” which is Katie MacAlister’s version of a vampire. They don’t do sun, and they have to drink blood, but other than that, these dark ones are described very, very much like humans. They brush their teeth, for goodness sake. Where’s the fun in that? Some dark ones are made, others are born, but for some reason they all stop aging right around the time they hit smoking hotness.
Melissande and Nell go to the castle of Christian Dante, the lead male in book 2 and a medium-sized character in the 1st book. Nell has no idea who Christian is, but readers will get antsy knowing that we’re supposed to love Christian and who is this Melissande trickster!? In the castle, Nell is abducted by our male protagonist for book 3, Adrian, a dark one who kidnaps other dark ones and sends them to a demon god to be tortured and killed. She falls in love with him almost immediately . . . because she’s scared of the dark. That’s all the plot you really need to know, dear reader.
Although we know Nell is a college professor, she has the personality of a 15-year-old high school girl. Her life in the United States is completely ignored, meaning her PhD smarts aren’t even useful to the dark ones. Odd, because they were largely born during the period that Nell studies. She likes to irritate people. Like, purposefully. She calls all dark ones “vamps,” a word that twanged a murder synapse in my brain each time. She — just like the leading lady in book 2! — tries to make up pet names for her dark one lover. And not good ones, friends! Terms like “lambikins.” Every time, Adrian rages that he is the powerful undead, feared because he betrays his own kind, which leads Nell to keep trying out new names. It was an aggravating shtick.
The way Nell shows her affection is repetitive, too, and I would argue babyish. How many times did I need to read that she was “…nuzzling the sweet spot behind his ear.” Friends, go test out your significant other. Does he/she have a “sweet spot” located behind the ear? Is it just hair gel residue and ear funk? I thought so.
She’s also constantly “kissing the tip of his nose.” Have you ever kissed someone’s nostrils? How about the side of the nose, where skin oil collects? No? So the description — tip — is redundant, but I also ask: are such chaste kisses really the vibe readers want in what’s supposed to be a sexy romance novel? This book does get super intimate. At one point, Adrian licks under Nell’s breast and she professes, “Oh, god, this must be illegal!” Errrr . . . in what country? I’m back to the image of the 15-year-old girl. Not a good one. The only time Nell sounds like an adult woman is when she and Adrian walk into a brothel for ghosts. One room has been enchanted to make ghosts feel sexy and want to strip off their clothes (ghosts have clothes, I learned), and Nell actually says, “I want you inside me.” I was impressed! It’s a short-lived scene, though.
Nell never grows up, though. And her inability to mature is compounded by the fact that the leading lady in Book 2 is almost exactly like her. This nondescript woman Katie MacAlister keeps conjuring is the Peter Pan of romance. After another dark one tries to kill her beloved Adrian, Nell calls the thwarted murderer a “poop.” There you have it. A poop. I’ll say no more.