A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This has to be one of the most impressive indie books I've read. On story alone, I'd give this 5 stars. The only reason I'm holding to 4 (or 4.5) is because there are about 30 typos sprinkled throughout and I have to keep myself honest on my criteria. This is damned close to perfect though.
I am absolutely enamoured of the entire vampire mythology presented here and it drew me right in. There are plenty of vampire books around but this didn't feel like one of those "so inspired by something else that it was distracting". This felt like its own story. The elements being an aspect of the vampire characteristics was fascinating, as well. I was completely caught up in the research/librarian aspect of the story as I've always had "archivist" as my dream job. I pretty much squeed reading that the second level of Giovanni's manse was a library. I knew Beatrice was a kindred when she told him that given the choice between the company of the hot PhD & the library, the library wins. Every time. *sigh* The mystery of the papers, books & where Stephen was just made for a great read & smoothly propelled the story along.
The characters are great and I must admit that as much as I think Lorenzo is a vile, twisted little blood-sucker, I love him! He's a worthy adversary for Giovanni. And Giovanni is a great main male character. His whole dark & brooding didn't go overboard and neither did his alpha male (re: general jerkdom). He was very easy for me to like even when I didn't like what he was doing. Beatrice is a fantastic heroine with wit, strength and sensibility. I was very happy that she came across as a grown woman who didn't just lose her ability to reason because Giovanni was the hot, wealthy, worldy PhD. It was refreshing. This also made the relationship between the two feel organic and on pace. There's no insta-love for no tangible reason or declarations of eternal love out of nowhere and for that I was grateful. They had normal conversations about things and got to know one another as the reader gets to know them. They spoke and reacted as normally as I could imagine people would given the circumstances. I also enjoyed that Giovanni (who literally has nothing but time) was keenly aware of how young Beatrice was. I liked that he had respect for her living her own life and didn't take any action to subsume hers into his just to have her. And Beatrice kept her senses about her and beyond her feelings for Giovanni, she never forgot her grandmother or her PhD program. She never forgot her dreams & plans. I liked the maturity both displayed. It made for a bittersweet romance. It felt honest and not just like they were props for the plot. I loved their attraction and of course, am pulling for them but I like where this installment ends for them. The remainder of the characters, Carwyn, Isadora, Tenzin & even Doyle, the cat, were extremely enjoyable & very well drawn. I can't wait to get back to them all.
I already have the second book on my Kindle, so I need to get on to reading that. Like, now.
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