Alec is a Detective with the NYPD and he is having one hell of a day. He just went on a wild, high-speed chase on foot through the city, watched a man turn to dust, and found out that vampires exist. He is used to unexplainable events occurring all around him, but now he has found out that he is also the fated mate to a 1300-year-old vampire.
Cronin has spent his entire vampire existence waiting for his mate. He didn’t expect him to be a detective and he certainly didn’t expect him to be human. The fated pull is strong however, and Cronin instantly wants Alec by his side.
Alec feels the pull to be with Cronin, but doesn’t take well to having his choice taken from him and has to wrap his head around the hand of fate. He barely has time to process any of it when the vampire world is thrown into turmoil. Not only are covens fleeing and being killed in large numbers, but a vampire in Egypt has a dark plan to wipe out the human race and she needs the key for the last piece of her plan to come together.
Alec has to get a crash course in history the way Cronin has lived it and it’s not at all what he has learned in the history books. This is all while trying to resist the pull of his fate with the vampire, which is inevitable. From NYC to Egypt and back again, Alec and Cronin find a new discovery at each and every turn with many designed to keep them apart.
Both Alec and Cronin are well written characters and we are given access to both of their viewpoints. Alec has moved up the ranks faster than his co-workers and added to the strange happenings that continually plague him, it makes him odd man out within the department. He takes the news of the existence of vampires well, but it’s being a fated mate that is really messing with him.
Cronin is a respected vampire elder. Although he has had close friends near him for hundreds of years, he is exceptionally lonely waiting for his mate to appear. He feels the strong pull toward Alec, but Alec talks over him, is sarcastic, and tries to infuse a sense of humor into Cronin. For all of the years that Cronin has behind him, his old world sensibilities are still intact, which makes for some playful banter.
For the most part, Cronin and his followers are the good guys and are fairly civilized for being vampires. They do have to kill to feed, but they attempt to put a moralistic spin on their choices. Each vampire also acquires a special skill when they are turned and the skills added to the intrigue of being a vampire, although I would have liked more page time to explore some of them further.
There is a slow burn to getting the men together as Alec does try to wrap his head around what he knows is inevitable and the intense feelings can work here because they are fated mates. There is then not a lot of time devoted to the development of their relationship. There is a lot at stake and also a lot of action that continually interrupts their personal interactions as they race to stop a vampire set on absolute power. The battle scenes are fairly tame and not overly gory. Alec also manages to take everything thrown his way and remains calm as he does battle with vampires that he only just learned existed.
As far as the key itself that is listed in the title, it was clear from the first chapter what the key was. I was not sure if it was supposed to be that obvious, but it was. There were repetitive actions that continually caught my eye, such as Alec constantly putting a finger under Cronin’s chin or then frequently touching his face in the same manner. It allowed for me to become focused on their movements and began to lose the desired intimate effect. The vampires have exceptional hearing and the joke of them being able to hear Alec and Cronin did become old for me by the end of the book.
This story is less about the nature of everyday vampire life and more about where vampires fit into the history books. It’s a vampire and a human facing danger while trying to find time for romance. It’s fated mates coupled with a slow burn. It’s action, intrigue, and a touch of history rewritten vampire style.