In the first of a dazzling new romantic trilogy, one woman’s courageous search plunges her into a millennia-old supernatural war–and an irresistible passion. . .
Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies. . .and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally-sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.
As an avid sci-fi/paranormal fan, I knew when I began reading Hearts of Darkness that I was in for a wild ride. Set in present-day Seattle, the story opens from first hero Hart’s POV and then heroine Kayla’s POV. Werewolf Hart has only one thing on his mind and that’s finding the key to the Gate so he can get out from under his blood-debt to his boss. The only thing on Kayla’s mind? Identifying her murdered sister’s body.
Kayla Friday is a unique character in a book filled with incredibly unique characters. On the surface, she is simply a human woman filled with grief and determined to find out who killed her sister and why. Underneath that, we find that she is a strong-willed, compassionate woman who trusts too easily. When she is first given a glimpse into the supernatural world all around her, she is struck with disbelief. She powers through that disbelief, knowing that the secret to her sister Desi’s demise came at the hands of someone in this newly revealed world that is invisible to humans. Hart tells her to run as far and as fast as possible, but true to her character, Kayla stays, desperate to know what happened to her sister. She’s attacked, drugged, taken against her will, and betrayed, but still she finds the strength to keep going.
Hart is a werewolf. There are several groups of shifters, including the new-to-me Thunderbirds (think human-sized black birds). An outcast, Hart has a chip on his shoulder the size of California and is only doing what he has to do to free his soul. Blood-bound to Norgard, a dragon shifter and all-around bad-guy, Hart must complete tasks in order to free his soul and escape. Complex on a hundred different levels, Hart is a mercenary that thought he needed no one but himself. A classic look-out-for-number-one sort of man, he finds himself surprised at Kayla’s ability to trust in him and just how much he likes her faith. Hart was a sexy, likeable, frustrating character. At times I wanted to both hug him and strangle him.
At war in this world are the Kevarti and the Drekar. The Drekar have vowed to help humanity, the Kevarti just want to rule the world. Shifters abound, both in the furry and feathered form, and in the dragon form as well. In the world that Kira created, the humans are unbelievably obtuse to everything supernatural that is happening around them, explaining away things they don’t understand. I really, really enjoyed the world because she turned everyday things into supernatural occurrences. The need for gaslights? It’s because the aether (which is a supernatural thing) causes the lights to go out. Cars won’t start? Ghosts. It was clever and added a touch of realism to a completely unrealistic world, which is just exactly what a paranormal book needs to be plausible.
I love mythology. As a teen I devoured books about ancient Greece and the gods and goddesses. Hearts of Darkness treads heavily in the world of ancient beings, and in some ways it bogged the book down for me. So many names and histories and words that needed explanations. It felt at times that I should be taking notes so I would remember the players’ names and connections. Ancient history lessons abound as Kayla is let into the world by slow degrees, learning about curses, other realms, possessions, ghosts and what happened to her sister, Desi. And in a world where even the good guys do bad things, it was hard to know just whose side who was on.
I’ll be blunt: the book is complicated. But it’s also wonderfully written, engaging, and sexy. This isn’t a book you can flip through casually, because it’s enchanting and complex and worth every minute that you’ll spend devouring it. As a lover of all things paranormal, I felt right at home in Seattle with Kayla and Hart as they tried to reconcile their growing attraction and face an uncertain future where life hangs in the balance. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series.