Monday, April 4, 2011

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Dianne Duvall

Darkness Dawns
February 2011

Book Blurb:
Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control . . .

In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible -- when it means forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.

In my last ‘IT’ Factor post, I warned you that vampires were making a big comeback among debut authors lately. Duvall’s DARKNESS DAWNS is another one of them. Funny how both this book and the last one I reviewed have almost identical openings: heroine stumbles upon a wounded vampire out in the middle of nowhere and helps save him from certain death. Each author handled it differently and did a good job with it. I just thought the synchronicity was interesting. Now, if the next book also starts in a similar fashion, I may have to wonder what’s in the water.

Twist on the Vampire Myth
Duvall gets points for taking a different approach to the vampire myth. In her world, there are actually two types, each caused by a mysterious virus. There are the vampires who kill and the immortal guardians who protect the innocent from them. The vampires and immortals are very similar in that they both need blood to survive, have an aversion to sunlight, and are preternaturally strong and fast. Where they differ is the vampires descend into madness rather quickly, the blood lust making them indiscriminate killing machines. The immortals are “humans”’ who had special gifts (telepathy, touch healing, ability to see ghosts, etc.) when they were mortal and the virus mutates inside them, basically making them vampires with a conscience. They also live much longer than the vampires (thousands of years if not more) since the crazies don’t affect them. I put the word “humans” in quotes because it’s hinted that the gifted ones with their freaky DNA may not be human at all. Even they don’t know the truth. Maybe we’ll find out in the next book. *G*

Stumbling Blocks
Organic food overkill – we’re reminded ad nauseam of how healthy everyone eats.
Info Dumping – Quite a bit of it, unfortunately. Usually contained within parentheses.
Parentheses -- It was like hitting a speed bump every time one popped up (usually at least once a page) and often it contained the aforementioned info dump.
Deus ex Machina – SPOILER ALERT!! Throughout the book, it’s explained that all immortals have some sort of ‘gift’ as a human and sport black hair and brown eyes. Sarah has brown hair and hazel eyes and no apparent psychic gifts whatsoever. Which means she can’t be transformed into an immortal and live out eternity with Roland. No HEA for them. But surprise! At the end we find out that the gene pool has been mixing with non-gifted humans so long that there are actually a few gifted ones with brown hair instead of black. OK, I can buy this one. However, we also conveniently discover at the end of the book that Sarah can tell the future with her dreams, she just never realized it. Really? Would have been nice if the author had shown us a few of her dreams so this idea didn’t come totally out of left field. And to top it off, lead immortal (Seth) can sense when a gifted one, human or immortal, is around. So why did he wait until the end of the book to go, “Oh, by the way, you’re gifted and can be transformed into an immortal if you want.”? Too contrived.

The Hot and Steamy
I’m split down the middle on this one. Duvall has a talent for writing a good sex scene, no doubt about it. She proves it several times. My problem is that the one I consider the most important (with the exception of the first love scene, which is always significant) gets short-changed. In the end, when Roland bites Sarah to transform her, all we get in essence is “he took her to bed, gave her the best orgasm of her life, then bit her.” It was quite literally two paragraphs long. I expected much more than that after all the other well-written naked wrestling matches.

The Secondary Characters
The author does a fantastic job of fleshing out the secondary characters. At times, I started to care more for them than I did for Roland and Sarah. Glimpses into Seth and the mysterious Ami’s relationship had me wanting to see more from them. And poor Marcus, who lost the love of his immortal life, so deserves a second chance to get the girl. Great setups on both their parts for future books.

The ‘IT’ Factor
This book is very similar to a lot of other vampire/guardian books out there already. The thing ‘IT’ Factor that sets this one apart is the different take on the vampire myth and who or what the immortal guardians really are. That will be interesting to see unfold in future books in the series.


  1. Lori,
    Thanks for another fine review. Great job pointing out the good and the bad. I really look forward to your posts.


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