This is the 5th book in the Dark-Hunter series and the 1st official book of the Were-Hunter series. I am re-reading the series and enjoying the books just as much the second time around as I did the first.
I’ve included some terms and definitions at the bottom of this review.
Once again, Sherrilyn Kenyon has outdone herself with her story-building and plot lines. I have a hard time keeping track of it all. I mean, there is a lot to the Dark-Hunter world and there are so many different characters who tie into the ongoing plot in the series, that it is sometimes difficult to keep it all straight. But the one thing I have going for me in my favor this time is that I know what to expect for certain events like when a certain background character is mentioned, I know to pay attention to them because they are probably going to be important to the plot in later books…or not…but they mostly likely will be important. (I’m pretty sure that was the worst run-on sentence ever)
We briefly met Vane Kattalakis in book #2, Night Embrace, when Talon asked him if he would be Sunshine’s bodyguard for the day while she worked at her booth selling her artwork. He was bored out of his gourd and didn’t pay much attention to anyone who interacted with Sunshine unless they seemed like a threat until Bride McTierney came up and asked if Sunshine had any new painting for her shop. I could tell Vane was interested in her because he asked Sunshine about her.
Vane is a Were-Hunter wolf. His family is beyond dysfunctional. Four hundred and sixty years ago, his father’s Katagaria pack kidnapped his Arcadian Sentinel mother and took turns raping her. His father, Markus, turned out to be her mate. He kept her for weeks, trying to force her to accept him as her mate but she refused. She escaped but gave birth to six children. Three were Katagaria pups and three were Arcadian human babies. She kept the human babies and gave the Katagaria puppies to Markus. Vane was one of the puppies. His father raised them and although he seemed to love Anya, he hated Vane and his brother Fang for some reason and was less than kind to them.
At the beginning of this book, Vane and Fang are hanging from branches of a tree above the swamp. Because they had helped the Dark-Hunters, Daimons came and attacked their pack, killing his sister and her unborn pups. Markus used this tragedy as an excuse to get rid of Vane and Fang and called out for a ‘timoria’ which means ‘punishment’ and the pack agreed. Markus put metriazo collars on them and left them to die….but Markus didn’t stop there. Markus has very little magickal powers so in order to keep ahold of his pack as the leader and keep his pack safe, he makes deals with Daimons. When a Daimon kills a Were-Hunter, they get the Were’s powers for a time. Markus sacrifices one of his pack mates from time to time, in the name of ‘timoria’ to cover it up, to the Daimons. In return, the Daimons share the power with Markus and leave his pack alone. So, as Vane and Fang are hanging from the tree, a group of Daimons comes to kill them and take their souls.
Vane’s powers are dampened by the collar but he is able to fight back and actually breaks the collar from his neck but the Daimons nearly kill Fang. He saves Fang but he is in a near comatose state and will not communicate with anyone. Vane takes him to Sanctuary and they agree to let them stay there while Fang heals, if he ever does.
Bride just read a breakup letter sent to her by her boyfriend of five years via her FedEx account. She knew it was coming but it still upset her. Her ex had never really loved her and kept trying to put her on diets because he thought she was too fat. He also used her contacts to get a job at the local television station as an anchorman and now that he got what he wanted, he drops her.
Vane had thought he would never see Bride again but he spots her in her clothing shop crying. He goes in to comfort her but has no clue how to comfort a human. He does the sweetest thing ever. He smells her scent all over one of the necklaces in her shop. He can tell that she has tried on the necklace and likes it so he tells her that he wants to buy it for a special person. When Bride asks him if it is for his girlfriend, he says, “I should be so lucky.” He purchases the $623 necklace and then starts to leave without it. Bride says, “Wait! You left your necklace.” And he tells her, “No, I left it with the woman I wanted to have it.”
Then they somehow ended up having sex in one of the dressing rooms. They each think it is a onetime thing but the Fates have other plans. Vane leaves to go see his brother Fang and feels a burning on his hand. When he sees the geometrical design burned into his hand, he realizes he is mated to Bride and he needs to protect her from his enemies. If his enemies learn Bride is his mate, they will use her to get to him.
Bride is out with a few friends when she feels the burning sensation on her hand and sees the strange design on her hand. She has no idea what it is. When she leaves the restaurant, a white wolf befriends her and she takes it home with her. The wolf, of course, is Vane. He couldn’t figure out any other way to protect her without freaking her out.
Vane has to choose between telling Bride about himself or not. If they don’t complete the mating ritual within three weeks, he will be left impotent for as long as she lives and she will be left sterile and not be able to ever have children. But he doesn’t want to bring her into his world with all his enemies yet by her just being his mate, it puts her in danger whether or not they choose to complete the ritual. He will have to guard her for the rest of her life.
One of the things that I liked about this book was how Sherrilyn Kenyon made a full-figured woman a leading lady. A lot of authors make all of their heroines skinny and the truth is…there are a lot of men who just don’t like skinny women. Granted, most of them do but not all of them. Bride was a size 18 and the author made her sound gorgeous and Vane thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Kudos to Sherrilyn Kenyon for having a voluptuous woman as the heroine!
There was so much going on in this book and we learned a lot about Were-Hunters and some of the other characters in the series.
Of course, Acheron was in this book. He has been in all of the books so far as he is the star of the series. He seems to have unlimited powers but we still don’t know a lot about him. He knows the past, the present and the future but never reveals very much because he doesn’t want to mess with free-will and the outcome of anything.
Simi has become a lovable but strange character. She’s a demon who lives part of her life as a tattoo on Acheron’s torso. She dresses kind of between Goth and punk and has a child-like sing-songy voice and loves to eat and put barbecue sauce on everything. She usually wants to kill things and devour them but Acheron doesn’t let her unless they are an enemy.
We get a closer look at the Peltier family who own the Sanctuary bar. There are Mama and Papa Peltier and their twelve children, eleven males and one female. Mama Peltier or Nicolette explains to Bride that she and her husband opened Sanctuary after two of her cubs were killed by Arcadian Sentinel warriors as a safe place for all who enter. Four of her children are quadruplets who looks completely alike. Aimee is the only female and she seems to be the only one who is getting through to Fang. There could be a possible love story going on there but I don’t think any of the Peltiers will be happy about it.
We get a closer look at Valerius. Because so many of the other characters in the series hate him, I just assumed that he was a bad guy. Valerius is the grandson of the Roman general who tortured and killed Kyrian who we met in the first book. His grandfather was also the enemy of Julian who is Kyrian’s best friend and who was featured in the prequel to the series. I didn’t understand why Kyrian and Julian would hate the grandson but I guess Romans and Greeks are just enemies as a rule.
Also, in the third book about Zarek, we learned that Zarek was the whipping boy for Valerius and his brothers. Any time they did something wrong, Zarek would be whipped. Zarek happened to be Valerius’ brother but Valerius never knew this until Zarek revealed it to them in New Orleans about a year or so ago. Zarek was born to a slave and Valerius’ father. It seemed like Valerius had a soft heart compared to the rest of his family which they scorned him for. Whenever Valerius tried to help Zarek, it made it worse for Zarek and once, his father made Valerius whip Zarek. Because he didn’t know how to control the whip, it landed on Zarek’s face and blinded one of his eyes. Zarek still hates him.
Nobody seems to like Valerius because of his arrogant attitude but I think he is like that to guard himself from being hurt by others. Even his Squire, Otto, who is usually quiet and one of the best Squires, lives to get a rise out of Valerius because he thinks Valerius is a pompous ass. But Valerius was very nice and polite to Bride. I think there is more to Valerius than meets the eye.
And let’s not forget Fury. He starts off in this book as part of Vane and Fang’s pack. He warns Vane that his father has sent out wolves to kill him and Fang but then he goes to Stefan, one of the wolves who are after them, and tells him that he is just messing with Vane’s head before he kills him.
There were a lot more characters in the book who may or may not have an impact on the future story but I think I touched on the most important ones…for now.
Were-Hunter – A long time ago, a king with the help of a god did magickal experiments on animals of prey and Apollites to save his sons from the Apollite curse of dying when they reach the age of 27 which resulted in humans and animals to shift into each form. There are two kinds of Were-Hunters, Arcadian and Katagaria. The gods cursed them to hate each other so they always fight between the two races.
Arcadian – Were-Hunters who are born human but can shift into animal form when they reach puberty and unlock their magickal powers. Arcadians believe they are superior to Katagaria because they are more human. When they sleep, they retain the natural form of a human.
Arcadian Sentinel – soldiers, chosen by the Fates, who hunt down Slayers. Only a few are born to each patria. A Sentinel knows he or she has been chosen because when they reach maturity, geometrical shapes appear and cover one side of their face. Many choose to use their magick to hide the markings to blend in with humans and so other Weres don’t know what they are.
Aristos – the rarest of Arcadians. An Aristos is the most powerful of their breed and can wield magick effortlessly. They are considered the gods of their kind and are usually guarded and revered. Unlike any other Were-Hunter, Aristos can time-travel any time even when the moon is not full.
Katagaria – are animal hearted Were-Hunters who are born in animal form and able to transform into human form when they reach puberty and unlock their magickal powers. When they sleep, they retain their natural form of an animal.
Slayer – Katagaria who are lost to their animal impulses and attack Arcadians. More violent and vicious Slayers are referred to as True Slayers. Slayers and True Slayers are hunted down by Sentinels. Even other Katagaria look down upon Slayers.
Note: When Were-Hunters have mixed parentage, an Arcadian mother and a Katagaria father or vice-versa, they can be born either as Arcadian or Katagaria. It is rare but a Katagaria can be born in human form so they are thought to be Arcadian but when they reach puberty, their true or natural form will turn out to be their animal and the same goes for if a Were-Hunter is born as a pup, his or her true form as a teenager could reveal him or her to be an Arcadian.
Metriazo Collar – a collar that Were-Hunter, usually Arcadians, use to dampen the magickal powers of a Were-Hunter. Electrical pulses are sent from the collar into the body of the wearer which keep them from shifting shapes and keeps them in a weakened state. The collar can only we taken off by magick or extreme strength.
Mating – Were-Hunters do not get to choose their own mates. The Fates choose them and the Fates often seem to be cruel about it. Were-Hunters have to have sex in order to find their mate and when they are assigned their mate, matching tribal or geometrical designs are burned into their skin (usually on the palms of their hands but not always). Once the mark appears, the couple has three weeks to complete a mating ritual or the male is rendered impotent for as long as the female is alive. The female can have sex with others but will never have children. Even if they complete the ritual, the male can only have sex with his mate.
Bonded Mates – a mated couple can choose to complete a binding ritual which will tie them together forever. If one dies, the other one dies.