Rating: 3.75 stars
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Benjamin Fuller comes from a long line of vampire hunters. At age eight, his family captured the vampire War King, who in turn killed his family and left Benjamin blind. Now, along with his friends Nix and Akito, Benjamin continues the family tradition of hunting vampires in Boston.
It has been 20 years since vampire Tzadkiel Dragoumanos was attacked and barely escaped with his life. He has been slowly recovering ever since the attack, and he is finally able to return to his clan and resume his leadership role. But things have changed for the vampires as other supernatural factions have gained control in Boston. Yet Tzadkiel is determined to see the vampires regain their territory and to seek revenge on the hunter who is the last of his line. The fact that Benjamin is blind and can’t see Tzadkiel and, in fact, has no idea that the vampire is even still alive, makes it all the easier to get under the man’s defenses.
Tzadkiel is surprised by his attraction to Benjamin, one that Benjamin shares as he has no idea who Tzadkiel really is. Tzadiel is determined to exact his revenge, but he also realizes that he needs Benjamin if there is any hope of restoring the power balance between the warring supernatural factions in the city. Even when the truth of Tzadkiel’s identity is revealed, the men realize they must work together if they have any hope of stopping the dark forces at work. Of course, Tzadkiel makes it clear he plans to kill Benjamin when it is over, but Benjamin is willing to take that chance in order to save his friends and his city. But as the men fall harder for one another, the animosity between them begins to fade. Now they have to figure out if they can save the city, and if there is a chance that they can actually be together.
Surrender the Dark is the first book in a new series by Tibby Armstrong and she sets up a really intense enemies to lovers plot here, with some detailed world building. This is a rare book where the conflict between the men continues almost throughout the story. Even as they grow to understand one another, and even be drawn together, Tzadkiel sees no other choice but to ultimately kill Benjamin. There isn’t quite that crackle of intensity, that pull between love and hate, that is what normally makes this trope so appealing to me. But I think Armstrong does set up the conflict well and carries it through the story nicely.
The world Armstrong creates here is detailed and complex. Aside from the backstory and conflict between the two men, we face the bigger picture of the battle going on among the various supernatural factions in the city. I was impressed with how well developed the world building is here and Armstrong shows a lot of creativity. On the other hand, I’ll admit I found it overwhelming at times. There is so much happening, so many details and so much depth, that a lot of the time I had trouble really understanding all the politics, history, etc. The language is also somewhat heavy, which makes it even harder to follow. So I felt like I was missing a lot, and it was a little hard to work through all the various elements of the supernatural world and figure out exactly what was going on in the story.
This is the first book in a series and while we get a basic resolution here, there is clearly a lot more to come. The next book features new main characters, so Benjamin and Tzadkiel’s story seems to be resolved, but the bigger picture of the battle for the city looks to move forward with the series.
I think for fans of paranormal, especially supernatural worlds where there are a lot of different magical creatures, this story will hold a lot of appeal. Particularly if you are someone who appreciates a lot of world building. And if you are a fan of enemies to lovers, I think there is a also a lot to enjoy here, as there is a strong conflict that carries well throughout the book. So this is definitely an interesting story and one that I think will appeal to many readers.