Author: Lynn Viehl
Series: LORDS OF THE DARKYN TRILOGY
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V4; S4; H2
Publisher and Titles:
Nightbound (5/2013) (FINAL)
Alys Stuart has been hired by Richard Tremayne, High Lord of the Darkyn, to excavate the site of an old Spanish mission near Jayr's jardin in Florida. Richard believes that the magical emeralds that provide immortality are buried there, and he assigns Beau to supervise Alys' work so that he can remove the emeralds as soon as Alys uncovers them. Alys, of course, knows nothing about any emeralds, although she does have a theory that a Templar knight came to Florida centuries ago and hid something important near the mission. The renegade tresori are also still searching for the emeralds, and they are definitely the bad guys in this book as they stake out Alys' campsite and make some attacks on her life.
As part of her contract with Richard, Alys has agreed to remain at the mission site around the clock throughout the period of excavation. For her protection, Beau is assigned to stay with her, and you know what happens next, don't you? Yes, their mutual attraction builds to the usual flaming heights as they fall into lust/love in a very short time. Each night, Alys has mystical and ghostly dreams that are all related to the mysteries surrounding her genetic heritage and her true connection to the emeralds. In the meantime, Beau has some dark secrets that have been haunting him for centuries, and he is afraid that Alys will reject him when she learns the truth about his personal history.
As was the case in the previous book, a lot of critical information is revealed in an info-dump sort of way near the end of the book, and the plot strains somewhat as it stretches to join up the various loose ends that have been dangling since book 1. Like the previous book, the climactic ending has a heavy dose of woo-woo mysticism, but after all, we are talking about magical emeralds, the fountain of youth, and the power of immortality, so I guess the abracadabra element is absolutely appropriate.
The lead couple has great chemistry, and Alys makes a fine heroine—always intelligent and brave, with not a single TSTL moment, thank goodness. Alys is a lot like Temperance Brennan on the TV show, Bones—a straight-talking, brilliant scientist with lots of knowledge, but few social skills. The most interesting and complex character, though, is Devan Leeds, Jayr's new chief tresora. I can't tell you much about his role in the story because that would be a spoiler. Let's just say that he isn't what he seems—not the first time you see him, or the second, or even the third. All in all, this book is a solid finale for this trilogy, with all of the characters going off into the sunset for their HEAs.
Viehl's next series will be DISENCHANTED & CO., an American steampunk series that begins with Her Ladyship's Curse (8/12/13) and His Lordship Possessed (10/14/13).
Eventually, religious zealots calling themselves the Brethren learned of the Darkyn's existence and began to hunt them down. The Brethren masqueraded as priests of the Catholic church. When the Brethren discovered that the Darkyn were immortal, they used the blood of captured Darkyn to begin breeding, raising, and training their own immortal replacements. The secret war between the Brethren and the Darkyn has persisted for six centuries, right up to the present day.
BOOK 1: Nightborn
As the story opens, Richard, the Darkyn king, has sent his chief seneschal, Korval, to retrieve the Scroll of Falkonera. This solid gold scroll supposedly was carved by one of the Knights Templar with a coded message that explains how to create an elixir that will grant immortality to a mortal. The downside is that any mortal who touches the scroll is cursed with imminent death. Korval has appeared in several DARKYN novels. His most prominent role occurred in Night Lost when King Richard imprisoned Alexandra Keller, the doctor who is working on a variety of experiments to better understand the Kyn's genetic make-up. In that book, Richard forces Korval to use his Darkyn skill of sexual attraction to enthrall Alexandra so that she will turn her back on Michael, her bonded mate, and bond with Korval instead. That way, Alexandra will stay in Richard's custody of her own free will and assist him with his own medical problems. Unfortunately for Korval, Alex refuses to bond with him, but he falls for her—hard—and as this book begins, he hasn't yet gotten over her.
When Korval arrives at the French country estate where the scroll has been hidden, he finds the place in flames, the scroll gone, and a young woman on the verge of being raped by some of the thugs who caused the destruction. He rescues the woman, but is badly wounded by a copper blade in the process. The woman is Simone Derien, who has been living in the local convent masquerading as a nun. Simone takes Korval back to the convent and gives him some of her blood, eventually healing him. Both Korval and Simone want the scroll, each for a different reason. As they track it down, they (of course) fall deeply in love. In a separate but related plot thread, Nicola Jefferson and Gabriel Seran (who got together in Night Lost) are sent by King Richard to locate Korval, who has dropped out of sight due to his severe injuries. Nicola is still having trouble making peace with her relatively recent changeover into a Darkyn, so we have a few angst-filled scenes between Nic and Gabriel.
This is a typical DARKYN story, with a relatively complex story line and lots of action. It's good to see Korval finally achieve some happiness after centuries of what was essentially his enslavement to Richard. We learn some information about Korval's mortal life and how he came to serve Richard—not a happy story. Simone is an interesting character, with a complex and tragic past that has ruined her chances for a normal life. One scene that I found absolutely improbable and unbelievable came near the end and involved some vital support that appeared out of nowhere to assist Simone. I can't go into more detail without giving you a spoiler, but, trust me, you'll know it (and reject it) when you see it.
Although you could read this book as a stand-alone, I don't recommend it. To really understand some of the dialogue, you need to have read the DARKYN novels, particularly Night Lost.
BOOK 2: Nightbred
In any case, this story begins when a group of foreign Kyn arrive at Lucan's jardin requesting sanctuary, and trouble starts almost as soon as they arrive. Richard Tremayne, High Lord of the Darkyn, kicks off the plot when he sends out a decree proclaiming that he will grant the title of suzerain and ruler of the territory of Ireland to the person who recovers three magical, missing emeralds that were mentioned in the Scroll of Falkonera (which was the focus of Nightborn). Naturally, lots of people are interested in finding the emeralds—both good guys and bad guys. One of the good guys is Jamys, who believes that the only way to win Christian's heart is to become a suzerain with his own jardin. Unfortunately, Chris also needs to find the emeralds because the only way for her to become a tresora is to find the emeralds and turn them over to the Tresori Council in Italy. Chris is in love with Jamys and believes that since she is human, the only way for her to be with him is to become his servant. One of the bad guys who wants the emeralds is an immortal pirate who is doomed to sail his ship forever, just like the Flying Dutchman legend.
In a second story line, someone is possessing Lucan, turning him into an even more insolent and lethal man than he already is. Lucan begins behaving violently and erratically, calling Sam a slut, Christian a whore, Jamys a traitor, and worse. The emerald-retrieval plot and the possession plot progress separately before clashing together at the end for the huge requisite battle scene.
This is one of Viehl's weakest Kyn stories. It feels strung together, and it is haphazardly plotted. The problem with spotlighting two romantic couples and juggling two story lines in just 300 pages is that the characterization gets neglected, the story line transitions are extremely abrupt, and plot-supporting details get omitted. For example, the whole back story on the pirate and his captive women is not explained until near the end of the book, and then it is presented in an info-dump manner. In another example, Jamys is supposed to be the hero, but his character is not at all well-developed. We do get a scene or two that fills in some background on Chris, but one of those scenes appears to have been thrown in just for its gratuitous sexual content rather than for its enhancement of Chris' personal history. The resolution of their romance is very woo-woo, and it's difficult to make sense of it, except to note that it ends, of course, with the couple's HEA. In the epilogue, the emeralds-related story line is handed off to another set of Kyn characters, who will deal with the ensuing problems in the next book.