Author: Maggie Shayne
Series: TWILIGHT VAMPIRES/WINGS IN THE NIGHT/CHILDREN OF TWILIGHT (SMR)
Ratings: V4, S4, H3
Publishers and Titles in Reading Order:
In Bloodline, Lilith and Ethan have spent their childhoods in an experimental program run by the DPI. DPI operatives kidnap Chosen children and train them to be vampire soldiers, brainwashing them into complete obedience. When Ethan and Lilith (both vampires by now) get together after escaping from the DPI farm, they must decide whether to escape for good or to go back and rescue the other captives. Complicating their efforts is Ethan’s brother, James, who may or may not be working against them.
Getting back to Lucy...The vamps are just as interested in Lucy's translations as the DPI because the tablets contain a prophecy about the possible destruction of the vampire race. As the plot progresses, we learn that the vamps are searching for the location of a centuries-dead Sumerian king so that they can resurrect him and save their race. At first, Lucy isn't really up for this whole vampire thing—as you can well imagine—but when she and James begin to lust after one another, she changes her mind and steps up to the task.
Up until this point, I was fine with the story, but with the introduction of Utanapishtim (aka Ziasudra, aka Noah, aka the first Immortal), the story started to fall apart for me. I can't really go into too much detail without spoiling the suspense, but let's just say that Utanapishtim is quite a character and that there are a number of inconsistencies in the way his character and his intellect are portrayed. It's the usual problem that occurs when an author bestows magical talents on a character and then isn't consistent as to how those talents manifest themselves. If, for example, a character can simply touch a book and immediately commit its entire contents, to memory why does he continue to speak in barely understandable Pidgin English? Why doesn't he pick up on the language just as quickly as he absorbs the contents of a book? Maybe someone should have handed him a grammar book with a pronunciation guide!
The story ends with an HEA for Lucy and James (as we knew it would), but there are lots of loose ends regarding Utanapishtim and the prophecy, all of which will be dealt with in the next book. Also left hanging is the situation with the vigilante mortals who are burning down houses left and right in the belief that vampires are real and must be destroyed. In Twilight Fulfillment, Brigit, the destroyer, will be going after Utanapishtim (now nicknamed Utana) and meeting her true love along the way.
Twilight Fulfilled resolves the story arc that began in the previous book and concludes the series. As the book begins, the small group of vampires who have survived both the vigilante attacks and Utana's fatal energy beams have gathered together to mourn their dead and plan Utana's destruction. The world now knows that vampires exist, and Utana is still on their trail so the future doesn't look good. They send Brigit (aka the Destroyer) after Utana when he turns up in Bangor, Maine, and murders a police squad that tries to capture him after he invades a restaurant. A second, related plot thread follows the actions of the dastardly Nash Gravenham-Bail, the evil DPI operative who is gathering up the Chosen—those mortals who have the Belladonna antigen—and imprisoning them in St. Dymphna, a gothic mansion that formerly housed a psychiatric hospital. After Brigit and Utana have their first violent encounter, which results in a draw, Utana meets up with Nash, who offers him a palatial home, gourmet meals, and plenty of dancing girls if Utana will just kill all of the vampires left in the world. Although Utana suspects Nash's motives, he goes along with Nash because they both have the same end goal. What Utana doesn't know is that Nash plans to kill him, too, after he kills the other vamps. As the plot progresses, Brigit masquerades as one of the dancing girls to get inside Utana's luxurious mansion. She plans to take down Utana, but gradually the two begin to—Wait for it!—fall in love. Further action centers on Nash's plan to use the imprisoned Chosen at St. Dymphna as bait to lure the remaining vampires to that remote location. Then, Utana will kill them. Nash sets his plan in motion, and as Brigit and Utana take their own actions to counteract it, Utana reveals some shocking information to Brigit about her magical powers. As is true in many soul-mate romances, one of the lovers must make the ultimate sacrifice to save the life of the other, and in this case, to save the Chosen, as well. The epilogue has the small group of surviving vampires moving to Romania and the people of the U.S. believing that vampires are now extinct.
At the beginning of Twilight Fulfilled, I still didn't much like the character of Utana. After all, he has murdered a lot of innocent humans and vamps since his reawakening. Also, his cutesy grammatical errors continued to be annoying. When Brigit fell in love with him, it took me a few chapters to accept that she could overlook all those deaths and forgive him. But, by the end, the romance seemed right—a perfect way to end this venerable series.
This is a classic SMR series that Shayne has been writing for a long time. Don't be fooled by the publication dates. Many of these books were written in the early-to-mid 1990s and have been reissued in recent years. Shayne has definitely mastered the art of writing top-notch soul-mate romance. The characters have just enough complexity and angst to keep our interest, and the story arc adjusts seamlessly to the various victories and defeats on both sides. If you love sexy paranormal romance, you'll enjoy this series.