Series: CHIMNEY ROCK
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V4; S4; H1
Publisher and Titles: Forever (Grand Central)
Darkness Bound (3/2012)
Sean is second in command of the Hounds, and he spends most of his time bickering with Niles (the Hounds' leader) and keeping secrets from Elin, whom Niles and the other Hounds believe is a fae spy. Years ago, Sean was forcibly changed into a Hound by the villainous Aldo, who turns up as one of the villains of this book.
Summarizing the plot is almost impossible because it rambles all over the place, as was the case in book 1. The book is actually a mishmash of awkward, stilted, disconnected dialogues among cardboard characters; attacks by various villains who fade in and out of the story line; a romance between two individuals who have absolutely no chemistry between them; and a murky, anti-climactic ending that leaves the reader unsatisfied. In other words, it's a train-wreck of a novel from beginning to end.
The main villain is a "living sorcerer vampire" called "the One," and he lives on "the Island." Late in the book, some out-of-town characters give him another name, but that's the extent of the information about his mythology—except for the fact that he wants to control the world (don't they all?). "The One's" minions are "a banished band of Austrian Verbols...members of the renegade Embran tribe...from the center of the earth." (p. 193) So now, we have middle earth creatures added to the supernatural mix, not that they add anything to the plot—except more confusion.
As I read some of the dialogue, I kept feeling that the author had left out whole chunks of conversation because even when I read over them several times, the scenes made absolutely no sense. Characters are aware of information that they couldn't possibly know; make huge leaps of logic—or illogic; and make comments that have absolutely no relation to either past events or the present situation. My one-word mental reaction to most of those scenes was "What?" (To be truthful, but crude, it was actually more like WTF?)
Here are some of the plot and characterization problems: Once again, the author dumps too many supernatural species into the plot—for no apparent reason and with no effort to connect them with her original world-building (which wasn't all that strong to begin with). The main villain's motives and mythology are unclear, as are his connections with the bad-guy vampires and werewolves on the island who appear to be bending to his will. The characters make a series of long and short journeys—again for no apparent reason (e.g., Elin's trip to New Orleans, which comes out of nowhere). The lead couple keeps so many secrets from one another that one can hardly believe that they are true mates. The three main female characters (Elin, Leigh, and Sally) have many cryptic conversations about "the Veil," but the author never explains its purpose or how it connects with the overall story arc. Niles, the hero of book 1, comes off in this book as an arrogant, narrow-minded, bigot. The Hounds are mostly misogynistic in their treatment of the women, although I must say that Elin comes across as kind of air headed, as she gets herself into way too many TSTL situations and for some reason always carries her pet guinea pig, Pokey, in her pocket.
In summary, this book (and the series in general), has no coherent mythology. Its characters suffer from a lack of depth, and the dialogues are so disconnected and perplexing that they frequently make no sense. There is no obvious plot line; instead, the author throws in one villain after another to attack the good guys for whatever reason. Although book 1 had a few strong points, those disappeared in book 2. All in all, a disappointing book.
The vampires and fae show up in the middle of book 1. Most of the vampires are villainous blood-suckers, with the exception of Saul, the town's supernatural doctor, who hates his vampiric nature and tries to help the hounds, even though the leader of the Hounds never really trusts him. The fae take whichever side benefits them the most. No mythologies are given for the various supernaturals; they are presented as separate species with little or no explanation of their abilities or limitations.
The Hounds are in a difficult situation because, decades ago, all of their females died—mostly in childbirth—and they need to find mates who are compatible with their werehound blood. Why don't they mate with human women? That's never really explained. Instead, they search for women called Deseran, who are somehow compatible with werehounds and can presumably reproduce with them. In the first two books, the heroines are both Deseran.
The one part of the Hounds' mythology that is explained in detail is their mating rite. Before sexual union with their mates, Hounds must go through a sealing ceremony that involves imprinting a mark on the palms of each one's hand. This leads to all kinds of love scenes in which the couple metaphorically completes some steamy base hits but never a home run—not until they are sealed. As one character says, "There are many ways to pleasure a man and for him to pleasure you without—being sealed." (Darkness Bred, p. 70)
The hero, Niles Latimer, is a former special ops soldier who leads the local werehound team. The hounds are in a difficult situation because, decades ago, all of their females died—mostly in childbirth—and they need to find mates who are compatible with their werehound blood. Niles has learned about the compatibility of Leigh's blood, and he is determined to seduce her and win her over so that she will become his mate.