Vampire hunter and supernatural expert Grady Hunter has spent the last several months tackling an infestation of, well, vampires. But his lover, Ethan, is not at his side. After learning the supernatural nature of his very being, Ethan has spent the last several months traveling as a sandman, one who possess the power to travel the multiverse through the dream realm. In the meantime, Grady is doing what he can to put down numerous rogue vampires with the help of his new partner, Chris, a technomage with a thing for Ethan’s mother.
When Ethan finally awakens, the initial joy at being reunited with his lover is short lived. Despite their love, Ethan cannot help but feel sharp pangs of jealousy at the not-uncommon reminders of Grady’s last relationship. Grady himself has an equally hard time believing he, a mere mortal, would every truly satisfy Ethan. To make matters worse, Grady’s long lost father has appeared and Grady struggles to prioritize his commitment to Ethan with his need for closure from his past.
It takes some deviously underhanded maneuvering by a semi-friendly vampire named Marcus and a few machinations by Death himself before the two star-crossed lovers can set aside their insecurities and talk. Yet just when Grady and Ethan manage to clear the air, they and their rag-tag group of friends are besieged by a secret society bent on using Ethan’s powers to destroy the world.
Initially, I found the scope of this story to feel a bit limiting. Grady is focused on fighting against a recent influx of vampires in his small Texas town. When Ethan wakes up, he funnels his energy into feelings of jealousy regarding Grady’s last sexual partner. And it feels like these two get emotionally manipulated by Marcus. This idea of a mutual sort-of friend pitting Ethan’s naivety against Grady’s refusal to disclose the details about his past has a lot of potential. For me, however, the reality fizzled. I thought Ethan’s reactions often reduced him to petulant, jealous lover. It’s one thing for Ethan to realize Grady had a casual sexual relationship in the past; it’s another for Ethan to feel what seems like pretty intense jealousy when Marcus throws Grady’s former relationship in Ethan’s face. Grady, too, is guilty of burying his emotions. It was just disappointing that these two clearly have so much baggage, but never manage to discuss it; rather, they seem content to be ruled by one-sided assessments of their relationship.
Setting aside my frustration with the Grady/Ethan dynamic, the plot offers a lot of twists and turns. Initially, the action feels rather contained to the city limits of the small Texas town in which Grady and Ethan live. These events culminate in a scene where Grady has caught Ethan in a rather compromising position with Marcus—but before these two can has out their differences, they’re attacked. When Ethan uses his considerable supernatural powers to save them, he gets sucked into a meeting with Death himself. It is here that the plot gets blown wide open as Death explains to Ethan the nature of his powers and the history of their creation. If I’m being honest, it felt like both a blessing and a cop out to have a one-chapter summary of the history of the gods that ultimately culminated in Ethan having the power to walk through dreams and more.
For anyone who is keeping up with this series, I would recommend re-reading the first book before staring Hunter. Events in Roam are a driving force behind characters’ actions in Hunter, especially our MCs. This second installment itself attempts to offer a few sweet scenes between Grady and Ethan, but I felt they were overshadowed by each character’s own inability to just discuss their emotions. Regardless, the plot helped me put aside some of that disappointment as I tried to follow along with a backstory that is directly responsible for and wreaking havoc with the previously peaceful balance of power.