Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dancing With the Devil by Keri Arthur

Synopsis: Private Investigator Nikki James grew up on the tough streets of Lyndhurst and believes there's nothing left to surprise her. All that changes the night she follows teenager Monica Trevgard into the shadows-and becomes a pawn caught in a war between two very different men. One fills her mind with his madness, the other pushes his way into her life-and her heart. Nikki knows how dangerous love can be, but if she wants to survive, she must place her trust in a man who could easily destroy her. Michael Kelly has come to Lyndhurst determined to end the war between himself and another brother of the night. For 300 years he has existed in life's shadows, gradually learning to control the life from death cravings of a vampire. Nikki not only breaches his formidable barriers with her psychic abilities, but makes Michael believe he may finally have found a woman strong enough to walk by his side and ease the loneliness in his heart. But will his love be enough to protect her from a madman hell-bent on revenge? Or will it drive her into his enemy's deadly trap? Only together can they overcome the evil threatening to destroy them both. But the secrets they keep from each other might prove to be the greatest threat of all.

My Thoughts: While the concept of this book was actually to my liking, a psychically gifted PI being caught in the sights of an evil vampire and a vampire hero comes to her rescue, I found the execution was a bit off. Finding the positives to point out has been difficult for me because every instance had both pro and con to it.

What Worked: Our heroine, Nikki, is both determined and strong....yet flawed. This will allow for future character development....and believe me, this character needs some because although I've listed Nikki as a plus she was also the biggest disappointment I had in this book. (more on that later)

In addition to the character of Nikki, her boss, Jake, although completely human with no special abilities is actually the glue that holds Nikki together and essentially the book itself. He lent a calmness and logic to the story that it truly needed it as Nikki seemed to go off half cocked most of the time.

What Didn't Work: The World Building. The addition of the Damask Circle was woefully under-explained. If not for Michael mentioning a few times that he worked for them I'd never know it existed. This was just one example of the lack of world building. Arthur has also failed to provide rules to her world. Nikki has telekinesis but apparently also has psychometry and precognitive skills too. I've never read a book where one person had so many different types of psychic skills. Usually a person is only gifted with one. In addition it is mentioned so many times that while battling vampires or the zombies Nikki had depleted her psychic gift yet a moment later she is pooling more energy to attack or defend again. It is not explained where her reserve is coming from two, sometimes three times after it's mentioned she's essentially empty of her gifts. In addition to this it appears Arthur's vampires have even greater psychic gifts than Nikki as they have telepathy and can control anyone with their minds in addition to having telekinesis. They also can raise the dead and become invisible by blending into the shadows. And can someone tell me how a vampire 1/3 of the age of our hero could be continually best our hero? In every vampire romance I've read, the older the vampire the greater the strength and the speed and the everything....not so much in Dancing With the Devil.

The romance between Nikki and Michael didn't work either as it rang false by basing itself on a psychic connection that readers had to believe in without any actual romantic gestures from either character. When all was said and done I was still wondering how the characters fancied themselves in love.

The biggest flaw of the book would have to be Nikki herself. She came across angry with the world and self sacrificing to the point I really was rooting for the bad guy to kill her and get it over with. I have a hard time liking a character who completely ignores all of her own instincts, runs headlong into danger every other page knowing it was probably not a good idea and practically gift wraps herself for the bad guy to kidnap her (after already having been kidnapped by him once.) She was BTSTL (Beyond Too Stupid to Live!)

In a Nutshell: Despite the numerous negatives I did give this book 3 stars because it has potential and room to grow. Jake was a very interesting secondary character and I'm interested in seeing what the Damask Circle is all about.


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