forbidden love coverRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Dr. Benjamin Arleth is a respected vampire scientist, working on promising research into ways for vampires survive exposure to sunlight. Ben knows he is close to a solution, and he spends most of his time and energy in the lab trying to hasten his discovery. However, he has taken a bit of a break to attend the Center City Peace Conference, an event meant to resolve the conflict between vampires and shifters about whether they should reveal their existence to humans. When the conference ends with violence, Ben steps in to help treat the many wounded.

Nathan Cramer is a wolf shifter who is attending the conference with his pack. When things go awry and a friend is attacked and kidnapped, Nathan doesn’t hesitate to help. He ends up with a gunshot wound and finds himself as Ben’s patient. Fortunately, between Ben’s skill, Nathan’s healing abilities, and some vampire blood, Nathan makes a quick recovery. But doctor and patient find themselves drawn to one another and things get flirty between them. They agree to keep seeing one another, even as Ben returns home and Nathan returns to school where he is a graduate student several hours away.

At first things are awkward between the men as they attempt a long-distance relationship. While everything was easy in person, it’s not so simple by phone and things are almost derailed before they start. But eventually, the guys get it together and start dating in earnest. They are both falling hard for one another and are exploring a more serious relationship. But when there is a crisis at the lab, Ben could be in danger. Now they must figure out who is out to harm Ben and stop them before it ruins the future they are building together.

Forbidden Love is the second book in Lee Colgin’s They Bite series. The story overlaps with the end of Forbidden Bond, giving us a look at the explosion, the aftermath, and Nathan’s injury from Ben and Nathan’s POVs. It helps here if you have read the first book, since it does go more into the overall world building, but the relationship and most of the storyline stand alone fine.

The book starts off with a lot of excitement as we see Nathan and Ben caught up in the events of the conference and Sinclair’s rescue, as well as Nathan’s injury. I liked this alternate look at some of the events we had already seen and it gave the story a lot of energy and intensity at the start. Ben and Nathan are immediately drawn to each other and their connection is very sweet and lovey as they talk in the hospital and seem to be well on the way to falling for each other. However, the story then slows down quite a bit as they each go home and both start to second guess every move. They are supposed to call one another and, instead, they each start assuming the other isn’t really interested. So one chickens out, then the other panics when they don’t get a call, and then the other doubts things, and it is a big cycle that seems to go on needlessly. After these guys have such an instant connection at the hospital, watching this back and forth was frustrating and it ultimately doesn’t seem to serve much purpose in advancing the story.

Eventually, the guys get out of their own way and start dating. They are sweet together and there is a nice development of their relationship, though things are still on the slow side for a lot of the story. The great world building that marked the first book is mostly absent here. We learn essentially nothing about the aftermath of the explosion or the fact that humans now know about the supernatural. Since the whole conflict of the first story is whether supernaturals should reveal themselves, I don’t understand how now that it has happened, we don’t hear one word about it. There is a bit here and there about the guys being a vampire and werewolf, but honestly, they could have been regular humans and much of this story would have been the same. So I felt like the world building and the paranormal side of things really wasn’t as developed here.

On the suspense side, we know that Ben’s research is a big secret, but could lead to great things for vampires. When it looks like someone has sabotaged one of his experiments, it means that he is likely in danger. I will say the bad guy wasn’t a big shock (I guessed it early on), though there is some nice excitement to the climax. However, things felt unresolved at the end. We get definite references to there being more to the story behind the sabotage then Ben realizes (and more people involved), but it is dropped and never resolved at the end. Perhaps more is to come in the next book, but this story ties up in the epilogue without ever clarifying what was really going on.

One last note. Ben’s research is on discovering a way to allow vampires exposure to sunlight. When things look promising in a lab setting, he tests his serum on live vampire prisoners who are exposed to sun to see if they will die. It is a pretty horrific death, and one vampire who manages to survive has been basically brutally tortured and viciously injured in the test. Ben expresses remorse that people have to die, but I still found this part pretty disturbing.

Overall, however, I found this story a nice follow up to the first book. I liked Ben and Nathan together and enjoyed the way their story tied into the larger world. However, I did find this story slower, particularly the long period where the guys are dithering about whether to reach out to one another. I did also miss the world building aspect of things that was explored so nicely in the first book. But I am enjoying the series and will be looking forward to what comes next.

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