Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Raphael by D.B. Reynolds
Powerful and charismatic, Raphael is a Vampire Lord, one of the few who hold the power of life and death over every vampire in existence. Thousands call him Master and have pledged absolute loyalty on their very lives. But when, in a brazen and deadly daylight attack, a gang of human killers kidnaps the one female vampire he'd give his life for, Raphael turns to a human investigator to find his enemies before it's too late.
Cynthia Leighton is smart, tough and sexy, a private investigator and former cop who's tired of spying on cheating spouses and digging out old bank accounts. When Raphael asks for her help in tracking down the kidnappers, Cyn's happy to accept. But she soon realizes her greatest danger comes not from the humans, but from Raphael himself.
Battling Russian mobsters and treacherous vampires, and betrayed by those they trusted, Cyn and Raphael find themselves fighting for their lives while caught up in a passion of blood and violence that is destined to destroy them both.
Where to Buy
I'd been feeling in need of a good uber powerful alpha vamp story for the last while now, and this story scratched that itch pretty well. Raphael certainly is everything you could ask for with the above named qualities with a strong personality, unbelievable charisma, and more power at his beck and call than can truly be imagined. Still, something in this fell just a little bit flat for me. Perhaps it was just a side effect of having to read the better part of the book in small increments over my lunch hour at work, but I never *quite* found the level of whatever quality it is about a book or its hero/ine or other characters that make you unable to put the book down and holds you in its thrall until you've finished. Yes, there were many times I found it very difficult to stop reading when I had to, but, *shrugs* there was just a little something missing for me.
Cyn is definitely a great heroine to pair with such a strong character as Raphael is. Highly intelligent and knowledgeable, a tough exterior that she uses to mask a soft and vulnerable center, and a dogged determination to see the job done. She doesn't hesitate to admit her attraction to Raphael, to him or to herself, but she doesn't let it stand in her way of doing what needs to be done any more than he lets his attraction to her impede his course. She'll let herself dissolve into a molten mass of desire in his arms, yet she won't let him intimidate her when she's truly determined about something and isn't afraid to call him an asshole to his face, something almost no one else would dare to do. Nearly the whole story is told from her point of view, and I think in part that's the cause of what's missing in the book for me because it means we never get to know Raphael quite as well as I'd like. Even though there are a few scenes that show things from his point of view, we never get to see inside his head really to get a feel for what he's really like and what makes him tick. We pretty much only ever get to see him the way others see him, and while this works to heighten the sense of mystery that surrounds him, it also creates a disconnect with him that left me wanting more.
The story of their romance, if you can call it that, is set against a backdrop of political machinations within the vampire world that has resulted in the kidnapping of someone close to Raphael from the bowels of his own estate. It is this act that brings him and Cyn together, for he hires her to investigate the kidnapping, and throughout the story that investigation, and all of the related events remain the focus of their attention even if they do give into their desires now and then. And desire there certainly is between them, almost from the moment they first meet. The sexual tension between them stretches taut until suddenly exploding in a moment of high adrenaline and emotions. Some may argue that their first "encounter" is rapey, but Cyn herself admits that she was a fully willing participant, however much it was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing and however much he didn't exactly ask if it was OK right then and there. This first tumultuous coming together sets the tone for their ensuing relationship which continues to be characterized by occasional moments of high passion and scorching hot sex in amongst all the rest of the time that they spend almost or definitely at odds with one another. There don't seem to be quite enough of those moments, however, and that's part of what's missing for me here.
For those for whom it matters, be aware that there isn't an HEA to be found here, and not even an HFN. I've seen many advise that you'll want to have book two on hand to read after you finish this one because while the kidnapping and surrounding intrigues plot sees a resolution here, things are left very much unfinished between Raphael and Cyn. The book is definitely worth reading despite that, because it's clear that Raphael and Cyn's story is most likely going to be one of those epic love stories that never quite reaches a point where you can truly say "And they lived happily ever after." I'm told that their story favorably resolved a lot more in the next book, so I'm certainly going to be reading that one as soon as I can to find out.
Despite the things I've picked at in this review, I did very much enjoy this book, and likely would have been just a bit more positive if I'd been able to read more of it in long, uninterrupted stretches. Most likely I'll try to read it again sometime when I can just get lost in it that way, and if so I'll update this review with any further comments I might have then. Until such time though, I'm giving this one 4.25 stars and would very much recommend it to anyone who likes vampire romances or just paranormal romances, particularly those mixed with a suspense plot.