Title: Heart of Darkness
Author: Lauren Dane
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Bound by Magick (Book 1)
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
ISBN-10: 0425244512 (Penguin/Berkley)
ISBN-13: 978-0425244517 (Penguin/Berkley)
Reviewed by: Kristie
From national bestselling author Lauren Dane comes a white-hot new series of a dangerous family legacy, and sensual paranormal passions played to the death on the knife-edge of darkness…
Meriel Owen, next in line to control the largest organization of witches in the country, is asked to investigate the owner of a notorious club reportedly siphoning magic from the font of the Clan. It’s a direct violation of the Clan Code of Conduct, but one look at Dominic Bright and Meriel’s willing to make a deal. One taste of the sexually feral outlaw witch, and she’s eager to go further: he’s her bond mate, a legal conduit into the world of Clan witches and their magic.
Playing by the rules isn’t Dominic’s style, but bonding with Meriel—night after explosive night—is. However, Meriel has unwittingly invited someone else into her world: Dominic’s mother, a dangerous and poisonously influential magic addict whose lust for death and power corrupts all she touches. Now her shadow is closing in on Meriel, her Clan, and the man Meriel loves, and it’s casting them all into the inescapable heart of darkness.
Quick & Dirty: Sexy, sweet and steamy paranormal romance with two very lovable characters, great start up to a new world of witches, but confusing dialogue and a slow start to the real action may turn some readers away.
Opening Sentence: Meriel sat, taking notes as her mother spoke from the head of the table.
Meriel Owen is a powerful witch but she has the potential to have a lot more power after she meets her bond-mate. Meriel has no idea that she will find that mate in Dominic Bright. Mr. Bright is also a witch and he has no idea how powerful he can be. He has been stealing power from Meriel’s “clan” of witches to protect his nightclub, Heart of Darkness. Their first meeting together is filled with sexual tension and their chemistry just drips off the page.
True witches are being hunted by mages and turned witches for their magick. Witches are being attacked and are disappearing across the country. Meriel and the other witches from Owen have taken it upon themselves to find out who is behind the stealing of magick. They team up with other groups to consolidate their power and learn new spells and wards to protect everyone better. Unfortunately all roads lead to Dominic’s mother being behind the attacks, she has set her eyes on Meriel and Dominic’s power, to take as her own.
The first half of Heart of Darkness is all about the relationship between Meriel and Dominic. Meriel is headstrong, knows what she wants and she will fight for it so she believes in taking it slow between her and Dominic. He needs to get used to what it means to be a bond-mate to someone like Meriel. Their relationship is hot and steamy. Their love for each other really carried throughout the book and kept me hooked to what would happen to them next. The second half of the book is all about fighting off the mages and how it affects Meriel and Dominic’s relationship. Even though attacks are discussed from the beginning of the novel, they don’t really start effecting the plot and action until the second half.
The secondary characters in Nell, Gage and Simon were very entertaining themselves. Nell and Gage are Hunters for the Owen. They protect the witches. Although, Nell has recently been married, I liked her so much I’d like to know what her story is. (Has there already been a short story or novella about Nell and William? I am a new reader to Lauren Dane.) Simon is a sexy werewolf, from the Fae world of Tir Na Nog, thankfully I will get to read more about him in Chaos Burning. I like the attention to these characters and Meriel’s relationship with her mother. Meriel is so intimidated by her mother in the beginning but even their relationship grows by the end of the novel.
The world building is a little confusing in the beginning. Especially learning why some witches are attacking other witches, the differences between magic and magick. Learning about the different groups of witches and why they hate or like each other. As the novel progressed, it became easier to understand this world. I do like the prospect that there are other dimensions to this world but there was no visiting them in this novel.
My only real complaint with the writing is that I had a hard time with the dialogue. I couldn’t follow who was talking in quite a few of the conversations. For me, it wasn’t obvious who was speaking at all times, this could be just a problem I had, but it made me go back and re-read conversations again to try to figure out who said what. It was even more confusing when three or more people were talking. People would jump into the conversation and you could tell it wasn’t who was originally talking but there was nothing saying who the line belonged to or if it did it was acknowledged several lines later, hence the re-reading.
Overall, I like the way Lauren Dane builds up the relationships in this novel and her characters. Heart of Darkness is a beautifully thought out story and I can’t wait to see what is next for this world.
“She can’t get in again.” Meriel got in his face, his shirt gripped in her hand. “Listen to me, Dominic. She can’t. Nothing and no one else can. I’m there now. I cut off that bond to her. I cut it off and cauterized it and then I put my own energy there. She can’t get in. You’re not going to go anywhere but home with me.”
“How do you know?” God, he couldn’t bear it, couldn’t bear to think on hurting her. How could she ever trust him again? Would she be scared of him forever?
“Because it’s my spell and your mother is a punk-ass bitch in the magick department. Oh, that’s right.” Meriel was pissed off, he realized. Not upset with him, not afraid of him at all. But murderously pissed off at Gloria Ochoa.
Simon eased back and sat on the corner of the desk as they settled in to watch Meriel.
“I got her number. She’s a fucking amateur wearing a costume of a powerful witch. She will not get in because you are mine and that is that. She can’t best me. Not ever. I am badass, Dominic. I know most people don’t know it, but you better believe it. I will tear her apart when I find her. You can’t bet on that. I. Am. Not. Having. This.”
The Bound by Magick:
3. Going Under (February 5, 2013)
FTC Advisory: Penguin/Berkley provided me with a copy of Heart of Darkness. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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