I should tell you this right off the bat: I found this book disturbing. I did not like the hero. I did not want him to end up with the heroine. I did not like the world in which it was set. And I almost did not finish it. The writing was good. The author definitely drew me in and made me feel things. They were just things I'd rather not feel when I'm reading a book.
The heroine is Quinn. For a while now, she has been plagued with visions of a shimmer in the atmosphere and glimpses of a dark world that mirrors her own. Through a series of events, she and her brother Zack are pulled into that alternate world and what they find there is horrifying. It's a city designed to be a vampire haven. The vamps run the show, keeping humans as slaves. Quinn and Zack are separated almost immediately and Quinn spends the rest of the book fixated on how she will rescue her brother.
The vampire who captures Quinn is Arturo. His vampire species feeds on emotion as well as blood. Arturo's delicacy is fear, though others feed on pain or other emotions. Right away, Arturo realizes there is something different about Quinn. She is immune to his mind control, which makes her interesting. We learn Arturo is planning to make her into one of his blood and sex slaves, using her once every four days to slake his desires. Obviously, Quinn's not on board with the plan --and frankly, this was point I started to worry about whether I could get behind Arturo as a hero. (After all, he'll be using his other slaves for the same purposes on the other days of the week.)
There are times he is less of a turn-off than others. That is to say, he is sexy and seductive and he doesn't seek to hurt his slaves. But if that's the best thing you can say about your hero, there's a problem. I can just imagine the internal monologue: He's not as bad as the other vamps. You know, like that Christoff guy who puts a spiked sleeve on his dick before he rapes his slaves. The guy who gets off on their pain while he, er, gets off. Yeah, Arturo would never do that. Quinn should totally fall in love with him.
Arturo wants her to be his property. That never changes at any time. His allegiance is --and will always be-- to his sire, Christoff (see spiked dick sleeve story above.) And he is willing to put Quinn in that monster's hands. He is willing to lie to her, to betray her. But he won't rape her. Wow. There's a ringing endorsement. He doesn't beat her, but he'll stand by while others do. He is simply less horrible than the other horrible characters. That is just not a good enough reason for her to have any tender feelings for him, nor any loyalty, and certainly not any sexual interest.
The entire vamp culture was for me, in a word, irredeemable. And just when I thought there was a shred of something decent in Arturo at the very end... there wasn't. He wants Quinn. He doesn't love her. He doesn't put her before the monsters all around him. He unabashedly does what serves himself and his master. I am baffled how anyone could root for a relationship to develop between him and Quinn in this book or any other to come.
The constant abuse of the humans in this world included rape, beatings, forced feedings, burning, draining, slave auctions and gladiator games. And it's completely unapologetic. I just... didn't enjoy it. But if you like the idea of a dark world like this one, the book may suit you better.*ARC Provided by Avon