NOVEL 2: Prince of Power
Just as in book 1, this vampire clan is like a soap opera—overflowing with couples in various stages of their romances. Here are the ones that are part of this book:
> Thad and Isabel: She is now pregnant, and he is trying to keep his clan together in the face of a developing rebellion by some of his old-school Council members.
> Leeland (Lee) Goram and Alexia (Lexie): She is Isabel's human BFF; he is a 700-year-old vampire warrior who is Thad's second in command. Their lives are complicated by the fact that his ex-lover (a vampire/succubus) lives on the vampire estate and is the clan's oracle. Lexie has a crush on Lee, but he treats her like a troublesome child. Both have tragic secrets that will be uncovered when their HEA story is told in the third novel, Hunter by Night.
> Alexander (Xander) and Theresa: Both lost their mates in book 1 and are having a tough time dealing with their grief. In book 1, Thad assigned Xander to guard Theresa because she is pregnant with her dead mate's child and has been showing signs that she intends to kill herself. In this book, the child is born, and they begin to have tender feelings for one another.
These romantic story threads are woven through the primary love story and its accompanying action plot, which involves more attempts by the wizards to capture Tyra. They want Tyra because she can absorb powers from other vampires when she takes their blood. In this book, Tyra learns—to her horror—how and why she has this power.
Anton and Tyra travel an extremely bumpy road to their HEA because Tyra can't bring herself to truly trust Anton, even though he keeps saving her lie, killing wizards left and right, and professing his love. Anton describes himself as "a twenty-seven-year-old almost virgin," (p. 67) while Tyra has already gone through two previous lovers, so their bedroom scenes are as interesting as they are sensuous (although Anton seems to have way too much expertise to be as inexperienced as he claims to be). The two have led totally different lives. Anton lived a sparten life under the cruel domination of his father, who frequently beat Anton and forced him to participate in wizard ceremonies that disgusted and frightened him. Although Tyra grew up under her father's loving care, she has always wondered who her mother was and why she abandoned her. These characters have some similarities to the lovers in the first novel: Like Thad, Anton tends to dissolve into tears during emotional moments, and like Isabel, Tyra tends toward TSTL moments, going off into dangerous situations alone and without back-up.
Although Staab has a good tale to tell, she is juggling so many story lines and supporting characters that her story is chopped up into tiny, disjointed bits and pieces, and that destroys the pacing and constantly interrupts the flow. The situation is further eroded in several instances when characters' names are used incorrectly. For example, as Xander is heading off to find Anton, he programs the "address Xander had given him" into the car's GPS. (p. 268) No…Xander didn't give himself the address; someone else did, but a staffer at Sourcebooks let the naming error slip by in the editing/proofing process.
Almost a year has passed since the first novel, and with all the characters and their complicated story lines, I found it hard to remember just what was going on. For example, in the very first scene, Tyra is regaining consciousness from….what, exactly? I couldn't really remember the details of the previous novel well enough to recall what happened to her and how she and Anton got together at the homeless shelter. Unfortunately, Staab doesn't provide even a brief summary of pertinent past events, so the reader is on his or her own. For me, this overload of story lines and lack of recapitulation seriously weakens this series. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
Secondary plot lines are threaded through the romance scenes. First is the action-filled plot that focuses on the wizards and their attempts to capture Tyra, Thad's half-human half-sister. (They share a father.) Second, is Tyra's relationship to Siddoh, one of Thad's top soldiers. (They are former friends with benefits.) Third is Alexia's relationship with Leeland ("Lee"), Thad's second in command. (They are mutually attracted, but don't follow through because of the difference in species.) By the end of the book, Tyra begins a relationship with Anton, the repudiated son of the head wizard, and their story will be told in the next book (which is a year away from being published).
If you are an indiscriminate reader of paranormal romance, you might enjoy this one, but it's definitely not in my top 10. Click HERE to read an excerpt.