For the last three months, something has been off for Michael Blakeley. His electronics keep shorting out, his libido is crazy, and he keeps seeing a strange shadowy figure that disappears when he tries to confront it. When Michael meets a giant, leather-bound, Viking looking guy at a bar, his first thought is the man is hitting on him. But when Michael finds himself under attack, Gabriel Flanagan comes to his rescue, promising to keep Michael safe and reveal all the answers if he will come with Flanagan and his team.
Flanagan reveals to Michael a supernatural world he never knew existed. Flanagan is a leader of the Guardians, a group who helps train and police members of the supernatural world. Unbeknownst to Michael, he is one of the Flame-born, those with the ability to use supernatural energy. Michael has just come into his abilities, but unlike most who grow up in the supernatural community, Michael grew up in foster care and never knew about his lineage. The new knowledge is overwhelming, particularly as Michael’s lack of control over his power has made him dangerous to the Guardians. Even worse, Michael has gained the attention of Alexei Vasiliev, a fae/vampire prince who wants to claim Michael for his own, and whose power compels Michael to obey.
Part of Michael wants nothing more than to leave the Guardian compound. He doesn’t liked being locked up, even if it is for his own protection. And the drive to go to Alexei, to be with the prince and give in to his commands is incredibly strong. But Michael also finds himself drawn to Flanagan, despite the fact that he has never been interested in men. With the flame burning through him causing his libido to go crazy, Michael wants Flanagan desperately. The man has become a place of safety and comfort to Michael amidst this crazy new world. But Alexei is not content to leave Michael alone. He wants Michael and his new powers and he will do whatever it takes to bring Michael under his control.
Dark Flame is the first book in Kat Silver’s Flame Born urban fantasy series and it is off to a great start. It appears to be the author’s debut work and I am really impressed with the detailed, creative world building and engaging characters. Michael is new to this supernatural world and we discover things along with him. Flanagan is Michael’s guide and he helps him both to understand and use his new abilities, as well as to learn more about the larger Flame-born world. Part of the fun here is discovering along with Michael just what is involved in this world and how it all works, but I will say that this is a world with vampires, fae, shifters, and other paranormal creatures who wield the flame, a sort of supernatural energy. The conflicts here are two-fold, as Michael first has to learn more about what he is and get his abilities under control, and at the same time deal with the threats from Alexei. It turns out that there is a lot more to Michael than a basic channeler, and his background makes him a desirable target to Alexei. On top of all of that, there are some factions within the Guardians that are distrustful of Michael for his abilities, which leads to some serious internal strife within the group. I enjoyed both the internal and external conflicts and the way they tangle together. There is a lot of excitement and suspense, and some great action sequences. And I am really only touching the tip of the iceberg here on all the layers to be discovered. There are so many interesting angles and nuances that are revealed. The world building is really well done and I loved the unique universe Silver has created.
The romance here is both hot and intense, as well as a slow burn between Michael and Flanagan. The heat comes from the fact that the flame makes Michael’s libido rage and he is near constantly hot and horny. He finds himself incredibly attracted to Flanagan, despite never having had an interest in men before, and there is an intense simmering heat between them. Michael also feels a sexual pull to Alexei due to their supernatural bonds, so again, lots of lust going on, even as Michael tries to ignore his pull to the prince. The slow burn side comes from the fact that there is a large part of Michael still fighting Flanagan as he tries to get himself oriented to all these new revelations, as well as to his sudden attraction to a man. Flanagan also doesn’t want to take advantage of Michael’s flame-fueled lust, as he is not always in his right mind when these spells hit him. So both the emotional and the sexual connection grows slowly over the course of the book, and we leave these men in a nice HFN situation that is clearly leading to more. I think this works well given the sort of “out of his head” sense that the flame gives Michael (they call it a “Haze”), since it is not always clear he has control over his sex drive. While we do get a couple of sexy hand job scenes where Flanagan is trying to help Michael slake his lust, Flanagan keeps himself at a distance sexually except when necessary. So I think Silver handles this dynamic nicely given the story set up. And if you still want sexy fun, there is a bonus chapter that serves as an epilogue of sorts where we see these guys get together when Michael isn’t affected by the Haze, as well as super erotic free short I describe below.
This book ends on what I’d call a soft cliffhanger. Things wrap up a bit, but there are a lot of open elements that I presume will continue into future books and many issues unresolved. I felt like there is enough closure here to leave me satisfied, but also quite eager for more. I think Dark Flame is a great debut from Kat Silver and I am really excited to see where the author takes this series.
Note: Please be aware of a trigger warning for an intense attempted rape scene.
Two Nights and a Day
Two Nights and a Day is a free short story that covers a pivotal time between Michael and Flanagan. Emotionally, Michael is still resisting both what he is learning about himself, as well as his relationship with Flanagan. But physically, his body is craving Flanagan, both through his own natural need he doesn’t want to admit, along with a heavy dose of Haze lust. Michael is incredibly needy and so Flanagan is caring for him sexually, but also struggling with his own desire and making sure not to unduly take advantage of Michael, who is being driven by need and won’t remember much of what happens during this lust-filled period.
This time is referenced in the book and we see the aftermath, but it is not detailed in the story itself. As I mentioned, the book is careful not to get into too much sex while Michael is not able to be fully in control of his desires. So this story gives us those missed events in full on, sexy, dirty detail. This is a fairly lengthy short story (novella?) and it is full on erotica, with all the yummy bits that are alluded to in the book, but not shown. So be prepared that this is super sexy and more about the heat than about a story.
While the timeline of this short is within the book itself, you are going to want to have read Dark Flame before starting this one. Aside from needing the context of the larger story to fully follow what is happening here, there are also elements that are small spoilers for things we learn in the book. You could also easily skip this and not lose any of the novel’s plot if you are not into erotica. But I think this adds such a nice note to the main story. This is partly because this is super hot, but also because there is a bittersweet element here as Flanagan fears Michael will forget this connection and the bond they are building will be gone. So knowing what happens in the book really pulls this story together well. You can grab it here for free on the author’s web site.