This is Book 7 in this author’s “Blood” series. This is a historical paranormal romance with strong gothic elements. Lady Ophelia has been kept in seclusion – even hidden from her family – by the enigmatic Mrs. Darkwell. She has been confined this way in order to protect the unsuspecting populous. Through no fault of her own, her touch is deadly. She sublimates her sexual urges by pursuing her appreciation of statues capturing the male form and ogling, and even caressing them when possible. It’s on one of these museum trips that she makes the acquaintance of the darkly handsome Mr. Ravenhunt. She is unaware that he is actually a vampire. She is also unaware that their frequent meetings are by design and are part of a plot to kidnap her. Ravenhunt is paid by some shady character to collect Lady Ophelia. He initially refused until his client revealed Ophelia’s curse in all its awfulness. However, after actually meeting her, he decides to pull a double-cross and keep her. Most of the obstacles in this romance are caused by external factors. There are more people after Ophelia than Ravenhunt’s mysterious client. The list of people after Ophelia and her power include Queen Jade – the powerful vampire who formerly controlled Ravenhunt, some evil-minded band of anti-vampire men are interested in experimenting on her, and miscellaneous paranormal types want the power. Despite the many times throughout the book when Ophelia doubts him, Ravenhunt always tries to prevent her from being hurt – even if it means his death. Our vampire hero finds out that undoing Ophelia’s curse involves some sex magic with the end goal being that they would fall in love with each other. I thought this was a little goofy, but toward the end of the book I was convinced that they were in love. Ravenhunt agonizes over the caveat that says they have to fall in love and is so earnest in trying to do anything to lift the curse, never realizing until later on, that he fell before he even realized it. The story itself really pulled me in and I loved the fast-paced action. The sex was kind of kinky with some bondage. This is nothing new for this author’s erotica. While I might not have found all of the sex acts in this book appealing – it was not so much a comment on the author’s writing, but rather just personal preference. What I did like about the sex scenes in this book is that it was consensual, the people involved enjoyed themselves, and it was never done for the wrong reasons – out of anger or some twisted pathology. I was happy to find that there was no third party involved romantically with the hero & heroine. The characters and story made this book for me. I found that I like Ravenhunt more as the book progressed. He has a lot of pressure put on him, including threats made against his sister by an evil vampire Queen, but never really breaks.
As a reader who has followed this series in previous books, I was happy to see a resolution in the Guidon/Mrs. Darkwell storyline. I look forward to reading more by this author.