by Keri Arthur
Series: Nikki & Michael #2
Published on August 27, 2013 by Dell
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Life has never been so insane for Nikki James. There's another teenager missing. She has another vampire to contend with. Her partner and best friend Jake is in the hospital dying. And a madman is kidnapping the wealthy. Just when it seems nothing else could possibly go wrong, Michael returns-but not for her. This time, however, Nikki has no intention of running from either the case or from what still lies between her and Michael. And she isn't going to let him run, either. The last thing Michael Kelly needs is a confrontation with Nikki-especially when his control over his bloodlust is still so tenuous. But when a kidnapper steps up his agenda to murder, he's forced into a partnership with Nikki to keep her safe. Soon Michael discovers the biggest danger he faces may not be from his need to "taste" her, but from his desire to make her a permanent part of his life-a life that is sure to get her killed. Nikki is determined to make Michael see that life apart is worse than death. But before she can make him see the light, a specter from Michael's past rises that could destroy any hope she has of a future with him. Because this time the threat isn't physical. It's a matter of the heart.Nikki must compete with the woman-the vampire-for whom Michael gave up life.
Nikki and Michael are on the hunt again. What begins as two separate jobs turns into yet another dive into the supernatural world. Hearts in Darkness begins about six months after Dancing with the Devil ended, with the duo separated because Michael thought it was best–not that he consulted Nikki on that decision. The flow from one book to the next is seamless, so the time gap didn’t cause a disconnect with the first book. I think Hearts in Darkness was a vast improvement on book 1. With the stage set in Dancing with the Devil, Arthur went right into the thick of things, sending the pair into an even more dark and dangerous setting.
I’m not sure what changed between the two books but I didn’t find Nikki’s character nearly as annoying as before. She grew on me near the end of book 1 and continued to do so in this book. I continued to like Michael as well, but the two of them as a couple just wasn’t as good. Don’t get me wrong, it worked and the romance was decent but I preferred the other action-y adventure parts of the book over the two of them getting it on. We do get a little more background on Michael and his whole protective streak around Nikki becomes clearer. Both main characters definitely improved from Dancing with the Devil where they had several teen moments. Now they’re adults and while their relationship is still a little high school/YA for me for an adult book, it was still enjoyable and I never put it down.
As for the story itself, it was well paced and flowed smoothly. The action kept it going while the romance slowed it down at just the right times. I felt like Arthur could’ve been a little more creative in her descriptions as there were several phrases that continuously popped up, which became more than annoying by the end. For the most part, I was able to overlook those as the action captured my attention. Hearts in Darkness contains a combination of murder mystery and paranormal romance that will excite fans of both genres.
This book was a definite improvement on the first one. Hearts in Darkness followed up on all the background you get in Dancing with the Devil and gives the characters life. I flew through this novel in half the time it took me for book one so don’t let Dancing keep you from continuing the series. It’s worth it, especially for fans of action and romance of the paranormal variety. If you liked the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris or the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward, you’ll enjoy this series.