I was not expecting this book to be so good. I had set my expectations low because I had just re-read my favorite series and thought that any new book I read afterwards could not compare but I was wrong. I’ve read so many vampire books and series now that it is rare to find an original concept but this author found a way to make it more interesting.
About five years ago, after a worldwide pandemic where many humans died, scientist came up with a vaccine for it. Unfortunately for vampires, the vaccine made human blood poison to them. Now, vampires are starving and desperate to find humans who have not been vaccinated to feed them and still keep humans unaware of them.
Aidan Murphy is a four hundred year old vampire who has taken an old ghost town and made it thrive. He and some other vampires loyal to him have found unvaccinated humans and bonded them to themselves. Most of the humans were from troubled backgrounds and had nowhere else to turn. Aidan and his scathe, a group of vampires who are bound to each other, have taken these humans and given them a better life in exchange for blood. Aidan believes in treating humans as equals and not just food and the town is working well.
Matthias Ludlum is a rich vampire living in New York. He is on the Vampire Tribunal which makes and enforces vampire law. He is also the head of the Tribunal Justice Council. Matthias wants Aidan Murphy’s town of Penton, Alabama shut down…not only because he thinks having such a large scathe of vampires could dangerous to the power of the Tribunal but because his son William has joined Aidan’s scathe and is loyal to him and not his father. Matthias wants his son back and will do anything to get him back.
Matthias uses his power as the head of the Justice Tribunal to release Aidan’s brother from prison where he is to be executed for killing humans and carelessly leaving them on the streets of Dublin where the authorities could find them. Dublin’s newspapers were calling the deaths the Vampire Murders so the Justice Tribunal caught Owen Murphy and scheduled him to be put to death. Owen is a psycho who has made Aidan’s life miserable whenever he could. Matthias makes a deal with Owen. If he kills Aidan and breaks up his scathe, he’ll let him live.
Aidan knows his brother is out and after him when the town’s doctor turns up dead with the word “food” carved into his chest in Gaelic. He also believes Matthias is behind his brother’s sudden release from prison because his son refuses to have anything to do with him and is loyal to Aidan instead. Aidan has to figure out how many people Owen has and where they are hiding and if any other Tribunal members are behind it. He has to be careful how he handles the situation and he also needs a new doctor.
Krystal Harris has worked hard to become a doctor. She left home when she was seventeen and never looked back except to go to her mother’s funeral. Her father was a controlling and abusive man and her mother allowed the abuse because she was too frightened of him to do anything about it. Krys is now fresh out of medical school and has a boatload of debt to pay back. She has been offered a ton of money to head a rural clinic in Penton, Alabama and is on her way to an evening interview. She is just entering the town when someone steps out in front of her car and flags her down. She steps on her brakes and stops right before she hits the man.
The man turns out to be the man she was going to interview with, Aidan Murphy. He asks her to help a friend who has been stabbed and has something carved into his chest. She gets the feeling Aidan knows what the letters mean but he says he does not. She tells him to call an ambulance but he tells her there is no time. Another huge man pulls up in an SUV and they throw the victim in the back. She rides with them to the clinic to save the man who Aidan says is his business manager.
After helping the man, she has her interview and is offered the job but she is getting a weird feeling about these people so she tells them she will think about it. The next thing she knows she comes out of a fog and Aidan is drawing blood from her arm. He looks surprised that she is cognizant and his eyes change to an eerie light blue almost silver and he says something to her. She wakes up in a nice room with a fuzzy memory but knows she has been kidnapped.
Aidan feels really bad for kidnapping Krystal but he explains to her that his town really needs her and gets her to agree to stay for one month and then she can leave if she is not happy after that. She still doesn’t know that Aidan is a vampire but she is starting to figure it out.
Krystal gets a crash course in Vampire 101 when Owen attacks Aidan and his right hand man Mirren Kincaid. Owen’s lackey shot Mirren in the back with buckshot covered in vaccinated pandemic blood and Krystal has to remove the buckshot as fast as she can before it gets into Mirren’s system. Aidan tells Krystal what they are and why his wounds are closing up and healing so fast. She is freaked out but keeps calm to save Mirren. She learns about the town and its secrets. She keeps thinking that she really needs to get out of there.
Aidan and Krystal have an intense attraction towards each other which scares them both. Krystal thinks she has Stockholm’s Syndrome and Aidan just doesn’t want to have a relationship because of what happened to his wife four hundred years ago….something bad which involved Owen.
Aidan and his town have a lot to overcome. There is the immediate threat of Owen and then there is Matthias who is super powerful and resourceful. There is also the Tribunal to worry about. If they feel that Aidan and his scathe are a threat to their power, they could find a reason to shut them down. Aidan does have a few friends on the Tribunal but none that would openly back him. No other vampires can feed from the humans in his town because they are each bonded to a member of his scathe so they are safe there but not from outright being killed.
I immediately liked this book. The characters are solid and the author has made them complex enough to peek my interest and want to know more about them. The one thing I don’t like is that her characters are straight up evil or straight up good…too black and white…and I like characters who have some grey in their personalities. There is one character who may struggle with his morality and that is Mirren. I believe he is the subject of the next book which I am getting ready to read now.