DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT by Lara Adrian, Midnight Breed Series, book 10
I really liked and enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. Clearly Lara Adrian is doing something right, though: DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT is book 10 in her popular series after all. I understand that the book was meant to be the last in the series, but Adrian was contracted for two more, which may begin a new arc with the younger characters or next generation.
If you like tall warrior-vampires who wear black and live in secret compounds, then this book, and series, is for you. If you’re into vampires shuttered away during daylight hours who protect the fragile peace between humans and the predators who’d like to nibble on them, then you’ll enjoy Adrian’s books.
The issues I had with this book partly stem from the fact that I haven’t read the nine books preceding DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT. It’s tough to write the tenth book in a series about a tight group of people without having a new reader trip over unknown characters left and right. Keeping the warriors and their mates straight almost required post-it notes (especially since they seemed to travel in packs and rarely step out in ones or twos). I was far more interested in the two protagonists, Sterling Chase and Tavia Fairchild, than their friends and family, but I understand that fans of the series want to reconnect with “their” characters.
The two characters that did stand out to me were Rio, because he was physically flawed (no small feat when surrounded by all these awesome males) and Gideon, the geek (I can’t help it, I’m attracted to a man’s mind). I’d love to read Gideon’s story, but I’m afraid he’ll switch into warrior mode and then just become one of the many.
Now there’s a fresh take on vampires I’d love to see developed into a new series: the geek who rescues his damsel from behind a keyboard. Naturally he’ll be tall and handsome, but I’d really rather not have him wear black or combat boots.
One thing that didn’t work for me was the Bloodlust. Throughout the book Chase struggles with his addiction to blood. Bloodlust to a vampire appears to be what binge-eating is to a human. Afraid he won’t be able to stop feeding (and thus killing the blood donor), Chase choses to starve himself instead. This didn’t work for me at all. The willpower versus appetite struggle is a classic, of course; as is the vampire’s fear that he’ll hurt an innocent. This classic trope is sliding into cliché territory. As the majority of dieters know, the easiest way to avoid binging is to have regular snacks.
When Tavia finally convinces Chase that he needs blood, he immediately beats himself up for not stopping after a few swallows. Come on, buddy, you’ve been shot (repeatedly) and knifed and starved and bled, of course, you’re thirsty.
Chase wasn’t the first to almost succumb to Bloodlust, which made me wonder why these guys didn’t have a system to deal with the occasional overwhelming need/want for blood. If you don’t trust yourself to stop feeding before killing the donor, bring a buddy who’ll stop you in time. You’ve been around for a few hundred years, and you know how important it is to not leave corpses in your wake, but you haven’t secured a regular source of food yet?
I had no issues with Dragos, the villain. He was the standard megalomaniac out to rule the world. I skipped a few of his pages. Since DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT is the climactic book in the series, Dragos finally met his match, i.e. he was ashed. The ending worked for me, but I have a feeling regular readers and long-time fans of the series would have liked to see a grander end to Dragos. It was too quick, too easy, too over and done with.
All in all, I did enjoy this book. The writing was flawless. Lara Adrian knows what she’s doing, no doubt about it. It’s difficult to dock her points for world building events that were set in motion many years ago in book 1 of the series when vampire angst over feedings wasn’t cliché yet.