Jet is out at a goth club — alone — to celebrate his 18th birthday. He’s not a loner, but Jet has terrible relationships with selfish people, including his family. Club Nox seems like a place he could meet new friends, and maybe find the companionship for which he hungers. He’s immediately charmed when a slightly older man approaches him, offering a drink and a semi-private rendezvous deeper into the club. Darken, as he’s called, is playful and flirty, offering Jet his anatomically correct, heart-shaped pendant as a birthday gift. However, Jet’s more interested in a kiss, and all that comes after.
Waking alone in his bed the next day, Jet’s startled to wonder how he got home, why he’s so wiped out, and why he’s wearing that mysterious stranger’s pendant necklace. Jet’s anxious that Darken may have drugged him, but he’s even more alarmed that he can’t remove the necklace, even to shower. He’s exhausted all the time, and the heart pendant seems to beat in time with Jet’s own heart. Darken must have answers, if Jet can find him again.
As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to find Darken, who’s actually fairly forthcoming about Jet’s new situation. Darken lives in an apartment above Club Nox, which used to be an old theatre. In the upper level of the building “resides” Mr. Older, who was maybe a warlock or sorcerer. Mr. Older is ancient, existing because the heart pendant siphons life energy from its wearer. He’s a generous parasite, though, providing living space, vehicles, and a significant allowance to his “host.” Jet is frustrated that he’s been tricked, and wants Darken to take the heart back, but the magic doesn’t work that way. Once the heart finds someone to which there is an affinity, it makes the transfer happen. Darken’s sincere attraction for Jet, and his desire to be a better person than the guy who held the heart before him, causes Darken to offer mentoring advice to Jet about his predicament. Darken knows it’s not exactly dire, and there are perks.
This is a short and sweet forced-proximity paranormal romance, with two characters that have little in common except the magic that connects them. Darken could run off to enjoy his own life, now that he’s not tied to the Club Nox building any longer, but he lingers. He likes living and working at the club, as it was his own inspiration to turn the failing theatre into an alt-goth hangout. And, Jet’s so young and sexy. It’s no hardship to teach him all the finer points of physical relations. From his own experience, Darken knows that the heart only keeps a host for two or three years, and he believes that he could help shepherd Jet through it. If Jet wants the help, that is.
I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d like this one, because of the magical trickery and life-force leaching. Jet is a teen with low self-esteem. He’s mystified that Darken, and the heart, chose him for anything, because he’s felt rather discardable his entire life. I liked how sincere Darken was, and how the magic gave Jet some much-needed confidence, even as it sapped his strength. It’s kind of an awkward meet-cute, what with the magical binding and all, but Jet is honestly grateful for Darken’s compassion, and let’s face it, he’s super attracted to him, too. Their connection grows more intense by the day, and Darken’s offers of living in the building and accepting the monetary perks of being Mr. Older’s host are too tempting for Jet to ignore. Darken’s original plans to travel could be paused, if Jet really wants him to stay.
The story is mostly told from Jet’s point of view, which is rather naïve and uninformed. However, his growth is only exceeded by his happiness at finding a partner and some community to support him. I loved that Jet was no longer so miserably solitary, and I did like Darken, too. He’s not a bad guy, just a guy in a bad spot. And, both of these characters find love—albeit quickly—together. Expect less steam and more brooding; they are written to be goth characters, after all. If you are into paranormal romances, this one might be worth a second look.