Elle Jasper
The Dark Chronicles, Book # 1

Review brought to you by OBS staff member Heidi

If it was something bad, then Riley Poe was into it when she was a teenager.  She hung out in the dark clubs doing whatever and whoever she had to for her next fix.  Until her at the time boyfriend killed her mother as a warning not to leave him.

Her adopted grandfather (as she calls him) and Gullah herbalist, Preacher, helped her turn her life around.  He got her clean and helped her open her own business, a tattoo shop called Inksomina, right next door to his home and store.  And Riley has been raising her little brother, Seth, ever since.

The advantage of getting into as much trouble as she did as a teen is that she can’t be fooled by normal teen antics.  So when Seth, now 15 years old, tries to pull something by telling her he’s staying at a friend’s house, she’s on to him and goes to check it out.  She finds Seth and his friends have broken into the cemetery and into the one crypt that even she would never enter; the one Preacher calls “Da Hell Stone”.  She scares the boys out of it by pretending to be a police officer and takes Seth home.

Riley soon starts to realize that there is something different about Seth.  It starts out with him wanting to sleep all day long, but slowly progresses to a major bad attitude and the dog goes ballistic every time Seth is near.  But when Riley and her best friend, Nyx, find him floating above his bed in his sleep Riley calls Preacher in for help.

Preacher takes her to the historic House of Dupré where she meets a family of the afterlight aka vampires.  She learns that the crypt that Seth and his friends broke into housed an evil set of vampire brothers, Victorian and Valerian Arcos, that were imprisoned there by Gullah magic.  When the boys entered the crypt, they broke the magic and released the brothers, who in turn bit them causing them to begin the quickening process of turning into vampires themselves.  The process won’t be completed until a full moon cycle has passed and then the boys will be strong enough for their first kill.  Riley, the Duprés, and the Gullahs must wait until  the end of the quickening is near and  kill the Arcos brothers before Seth has his first kill in order to bring him back to humanity.  In the meantime, Eli Dupré is to go with Riley at all times to keep her safe in case Seth returns.  Riley has a rare blood type that is appealing to vampires and the only thing that has kept her safe this long is the herbs Preacher and his wife have been putting in her morning tea that mask her blood.  If the newlings smell it, they will kill her.

Eli stays with Riley and they have to revisit her past in the seedy night clubs to keep an eye on the boys and try to find out where the Arcoses are staying so that when the time is right they can take them out.  And Eli and Riley give in to their desires for one another in the process.

But as the end of the quickening approaches Riley starts having erotic dreams of herself with a beautiful man she has never seen before.  Once Eli learns about them he’s concerned as the man sounds very much like Victorian Arcos.  And in one of the dreams Victorian makes Riley an offer; he will release Seth from the curse in exchange for her.  Now, she must decide to stick to the plan and risk the Duprés’ and the Gullahs’ lives or surrender herself in exchange for Seth.

This is the first book in the Dark Chronicles series and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical after reading the preface which ended with Riley saying that vampires are real and she was “utterly, irrevocably in love with one”.  I inwardly groaned on that one as I instantly thought the author was trying to make this book like Twilight. But I’m happy to report that this book tells a story all its own and I was pleasantly surprised that I ended up loving it!

My only other complaint was that I’m really tired with all the vampires in books claiming their love interest as “Mine”, but that truly is a small complaint in the grand scheme of things.

Also the cover looks awesome and they had Riley perfectly pegged down to her dragon tattoos and the fuchsia streaks in her hair.

I loved that Riley was a well-developed character.  She had a painful past that makes her tough and she can take care of herself.  She made you really respect her strength and her determination to keep her past in the past and to do whatever it takes to keep her brother safe.

Eli was a great love interest for her as he is tough and stubborn as well, but Riley eventually brings out his softer side once he learns how to be close to her without making her into a snack that is.  And there were some nice saucy sex scenes once they finally give in to one another.

Preacher and the Dupré family are fun and likable and makes you wish you had a family just like them.

The book was well paced and kept me interested to the very end. I found the story to be engaging and never boring.   Just a sister doing whatever she can to bring her brother back home safely and finding love in the process.  The villain showing up in Riley’s dreams was a fun addition, although I knew who the mystery man was as soon as he appeared…or at least I knew it was one of the brothers.  And the ending left a great opening for the next book in the series, Everdark, which I’m fixing to dive into right now!