Author: Keri Arthur
Series: Nikki & Michael #2
Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Life has never been so insane for Nikki James. There's another teenager missing. She has another vampire to contend with. Her partner and best friend Jake is in the hospital dying. And a madman is kidnapping the wealthy. Just when it seems nothing else could go wrong, Michael returns--but not for her. This time, however, Nikki has no intention of running from either the case or from what still lies between her and Michael. And she isn't going to let him run, either.
The last thing Michael Kelly needs is a confrontation with Nikki--especially when his control over his bloodlust is still so tenuous. But when a kidnapper steps up his agenda to murder, he's forced into a partnership with Nikki to keep her safe. Soon Michael discovers the biggest danger he faces may not be from his need to "taste" her, but from his desire to make her a permanent part of his life--a life that is sure to get her killed.
Nikki is determined to make Michael see that time apart is worse than death. But before she can make him see the light, a specter from Michael's past rises that could destroy any hope she has of a future with him. Because this time the threat isn't physical. It's a matter of the heart. Nikki must compete with the woman--the vampire--for whom Michael gave up life.
I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
In my review of Dancing with the Devil, the first in the Nikki & Michael series, I mentioned that I was disappointed with the lack of romance. It had felt like they were much more focused on the job and the dangers surrounding them then in the budding feelings between them. Well, where Dancing with the Devil lacked, Hearts in Darkness definitely made up for it.
Hearts in Darkness started with Nikki gritting her teeth and diving into her work despite the mournful feelings she has for Michael leaving her. She is following yet another petulant teenager that has unwittingly stumbled into supernatural trouble. Attempting to save the teenager from an internet date that seems terribly foreboding, Nikki crosses paths with a group of vampires bent on taking the young boy, Matthew, and riding themselves of the burden of Nikki and her boss, Jake. Nikki escapes the clutches of the vampire horde by the skin of her teeth but her colleague is mortally wounded.
Despite Nikki's close connection to Jake, she decides to pursue Matthew and the vampires who had him. This predestined decision causes the planets to align and Nikki to once more cross paths with Michael, the man who owns and, subsequently, broke her heart. This time, Nikki's gumption to not let him leave again, spurs her to seduce, distract, and allure Michael into showing his hand and confessing his feelings for her. All the while, Nikki and Michael are hot on the trail of the fiends who have kidnapped not only Matthew, but many wealthy men for unknown reasons.
I was pleasantly surprised by how spunky Nikki had become. She had completely abandoned all the fear that held her fast during the first book. She decided once and for all that she was not going to be afraid of letting someone in and loving someone else who could ultimately destroy her. I did quirk a brow at how fast she changed from skittish, docile kitten to sexy, seductive vixen. But, really, all I could do was smile and acknowledge that Nikki was going after what she wanted and damned the consequences. You have to admire that.
Michael was as frustrating as usual. He is always so determined to keep Nikki safe despite the fact that even when she's not around him she is having brushes with death. What makes him think that having him around to protect her more efficiently would be wrong? Silly boy, your woman has presented a sound case, stop being so stubborn and embrace the fact that she is with you, whether you want her to be or not!
This book was head-and-tails above the first book, as so many series often are. I liked the introduction of other supernatural creatures that weren't vampires, as well as the romantic back and forth between Nikki and Michael. The sex scenes are still a little short and not as detailed as the scenes in the Riley Jensen series. It is almost as if Arthur is a bit uneasy about getting detailed. No worries, Arthur, I've read 50 Shades of Gray... there is very little that can make me faint of heart after that.
Hearts in Darkness is a book that has a dash of romance, a sprig of fantasy, and a whole lot of action. It is the type of book you will be hard-pressed to put down and will ignite the hunger for more and more of Nikki and Michael.