Jonas Forge is a detective with the Flint, Ohio police department. He’s also a centuries old vampire, and he’s soul bonded to fairly new vampire, Blair Turner. Forge’s best friend, Declan, is also the vampire that turned him so long ago, and Declan is soul bonded to werewolf, Lucas Coate. Lucas is also one of Forge’s closest friends, and the medical examiner who works closely with Forge. Both couples live together, along with another bonded vampire/human pair, in Bogg’s Castle. They are content in their lives, happily and deeply in love, and occasionally thwart supernatural badness in their spare time. But they are being watched, and when the time is right, they are recruited.
The Vampire Guard works in secret to bring down evil in all its forms. They have existed for centuries, and Forge and Declan have long been on their radar. Since only bonded pairs can work for the organization, it’s only now that Forge and Declan can be brought in. With mysterious deaths on the rise, Forge, Blair, Declan, and Lucas are recruited and dropped into the case that is local to them.
What they quickly discover is it’s not just going on in the Great Lakes, but has been happening for a decade and is much more sinister than they originally thought. It takes all their skills to uncover the culprit, and even then it’s just the tip of the iceberg. But now the men know exactly what’s out there and what’s going on, they know they need to move into the next stage of their lives and join the Vampire Guard.
I’m going to start by saying this is a paranormal mystery suspense with romantic elements, not a traditional romance by any means. I knew what I was getting into with this book, and it’s clear from the blurb that the romance is not focus. Instead it’s about these four men being recruited and solving a deadly case. And because this isn’t a traditional romance, this review is going to deviate slightly from my norm.
Noble drops us into the world she’s created, one where the paranormal world is hidden from the contemporary one. I found this both worked and didn’t for me. There’s not a lot of background given about how and why and what paranormal creatures are. And I found, at times, that I felt like I was missing key information. However, I really liked that there were no big info dumps or awkward paragraphs or dialogue about the beings in the world. All we learned about vampires was from seeing we them in their everyday. I have to admit, I thought the vampires could use a little more development, as they basically seemed like men. Besides an occasional mention of blood or biting, and one scene where a character uses his abilities, they were portrayed as ordinary men. On the other hand, it worked in that these guys could fully integrate into the world without question. Werewolves were better explained, I think, in what their limitations and abilities were. The author also used comparison between the two species to a great advantage to explain things further. So I definitely enjoyed the unique world Noble created here, thought there were times I could have benefitted from more explanation.
The author used the same technique to give us information about the MCs and I found I had the same likes and dislikes in this regard as well. When the story begins, Forge and Blair, and Declan and Lucas are already bonded and in love. We don’t get much of their back story, either as couples or individuals, and little things just come out while the story progresses. To a degree, I thought this was a lot of fun, and felt organic to the story. When it was relevant, facts about the guys or their relationship were shown and told, and I thought it was clever. However, there were definitely times where I felt I was missing things, information that I should have or know. So as the story progressed and this feeling kept compounding, I will admit to feeling frustrated at times. I just wanted to know more about them, and the info wasn’t to be found.
That being said, the characters are well crafted and distinct. Having four MCs, it is sometimes difficult to create such different personalities. What I really enjoyed were not only those differences, but also where they were the same. Forge and Declan have been together a long time, and were lovers once upon a time, so they interact with each other in a certain way. Their centuries old relationship was clearly portrayed in how well they knew each other. The love the guys have for their bondmates was evident as well, in all the little things. They acted with and reacted to each other differently depending on the relationship, and I thought it was really nicely done. We got a good sense of all of the men this way. It made a really nice backdrop and served to flesh out the great story arc.
The biggest part of the story was the mystery. It centered around some mysterious deaths, and nefarious characters masquerading as someone else. I thought this part was particularly clever and well done. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m not going to go too in depth. I will say the clues are all there, but it’s not too easy to put them all together, until they all makes sense. And that’s how I like my mysteries. Everything has a reason for being there, even if we don’t know it at the time of reading it. While I figured out one aspect of it easily (and that’s just due to my personal geekiness) the rest was rather clever and surprising in the good way. And definitely sets up for more of the series.
So I really liked the story. Yes, I definitely had a few small issues with what felt like missing info to me. But overall, the paranormal and mystery aspects were clever and well done. This was a great introduction to a new series, and sets up the next book nicely while also wrapping up the plot lines introduced. Definitely recommended to anyone who likes paranormal mystery with a side of lovely romance.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.