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Private Demon is the second book in Lynn Viehl's "paranormal romance" Darkyn series. Back in February I read the first book and hated it but I was so curious to see what was going to happen next (and had already bought the entire series) that I decided to at least give the next book a try.
This book is set seven months after If Angel's Burn and the plot continues from that book, so unfortunately if you want to read this one you'll probably need to read the first one before doing so.
Alexandra Keller, newly turned vampire and doctor, is still researching the cause of vampirism in an attempt to find a cure. Her partner and leader of all the American vampires, Michael is being targetted by an assassin and has to track down old friend turned crazy vampire, Thierry.
In If Angel's Burn Thierry's wife Angelica betrayed them all, handing Thierry and their son to the Brethren (evil ex-priests who hunt the vampires). The Brethren tortured them, leaving Thierry insane and his son Jamys mute. Thierry ran away from his fellow Darkyn when he discovered that a woman, Luisa, had been attacked and her attackers had never been captured. Intent on finding her attackers Thierry sets off on a hunt which leads him to Jema, a rich woman who is dying of diabetes and previously who had worked with Luisa.
John Keller also features heavily in this book. He has now left both the Brethren and the priesthood and is trying to find his way.
This series of books has been marketed as paranormal romance and if you read the back of the book you could be forgiven for thinking that the book will be about Thierry and Jema. You would be wrong though.
As a paranormal romance story this book sucks. The hero and heroine barely interact with each other and when they do it's mostly through dreams. I got to the last couple of chapters and thought surely the book isn't over already, Thiery and Jema have only interacted once outside of her dreams. This book is very short (less than 300) pages and most of it doesn't focus on either Jema or Thierry. There is so much going on in the book that the romantic story line seems more like sub plot and a poorly done one at that. It feels almost as though the romance hasn't started, like the background for the romance has now been set and I'm ready to read the actual romance story.
However, as a paranormal book it was fantastic and I really enjoyed reading it.
When I first started reading the book I found it very difficult to get into. Within the first chapter Viehl had told four seeminly unrelated stories. Later in the book you do see the way that these stories link but at the beginning of the book it makes it hard to follow. Not necessarily because it's complicated but because you just start to get into one of the stories and then she moves onto another one. Mini-cliffhangers within a book aren't necessarily a bad thing, but I think the problem with the start of this book was that there were too many different storylines too soon and that she didn't spend enough time on each one. It would feel like you were only just getting into a storyline and starting to enjoy it and then she would switch to another one and then another, so that by the time you get back around to the storyline that you were interested in you've lost interest.
However, when I got into the book I really enjoyed it. As I said in my review of If Angel's Burn I love that Viehl has a new spin on the vampire myth and that she's made it more realistic by using science and incorporating historical facts. This series always seemed to me to have so much potential and in this book Viehl realises that potential and actually writes something worthy of the world that she's created.
One of the things that I really liked in this book was that she gave such a realistic, although very dark, view of the world. She doesn't shy away from showing things as they are, she doesn't glamourise life on the streets, she doesn't pretend the world is a nice place. She shows things exactly as they are and I liked that. In this book we encounter teen prostitutes, gang violence and racism and I felt that she wrote them all so well. They were shown as just being a part of life for the young people who featured in the background of this book but they were written in a way that portrayed them as horrific. This is by far one of the darkest books in this genre that I've read.
There were some great twists in this book that will surprise you, there are others that are a little bit more predictable but I consider that to be a good thing because I like being able to guess some of what is going to happen while being surprised by others.
I enjoyed the overall plot to the book, which was complex enough to keep my interest but not so complicated that it confused me. I liked the way that everything fell into place the more that you read but did feel that perhaps there were a few too many threads to pull together.
Due to the length of this book (it's a very short book, less than 300 pages) I did sometimes feel that things weren't explored in enough depth. This book is part of a series and unlike many other books in this genre each book doesn't seem to have a distinct plot of it's own, excluding the romantic plot which is almost non-existant. If it wasn't for the fact that the plot has continued on from the first book and presumably will continue in the next book it just wouldn't work.
Although I did actually like some of the characters in this book I felt that they weren't very well developed. Alexandra and Michael, who were the focal characters of the first book, were further developed in this novel and by the end I felt like I knew them, a feeling I hadn't experienced while reading their book but Thierry and Jema weren't very well developed at all. It seems strange that Viehl would write a book that is supposed to focus on certain characters (or at least that's the impression given by the plot summary on the back cover) and then not write much about those characters. I wonder if perhaps she will develop them further in her next book as she did with Alexandra and Michael.
Thiery is such a complex character and there was so much that she could have done with him but it seems like she barely skimmed the surface. She doesn't spend much time exploring the characters emotions and I felt like she didn't really resolve the problems that he had.
There also seemed to be a time inconsistency. It has been seven months since the end of the first book. Viehl explains what has happened to John during that time but it seems like no time has passed for Thierry and the other darkyn. It is possible, but unlikely, that Thierry has taken seven months to find Luisa's attackers but that doesn't explain why Thierry's son suddenly decides to find his father. Thierry ran away at the end of If Angel's Burn, surely it wouldn't take seven months for his son to want to look for him.
I think my review makes it sound like I didn't like this book because there were so many flaws and things that I think could be improved but as I've said I did really enjoy reading this book. It constantly left me wondering what was going to happen next, was very thought provoking and most importantly it was just a very entertaining read.
If you are looking for a paranormal romance novel, with all the romance, eroticism and emotions that come with it don't bother with this book. But if you want an interesting story, with a lot of action and an ending that will leave you wanting more then I would recommend this book.