I was so excited to get Heart of Darkness by Lauren Dane, the first book in her new series titled Bound by Magick. I love her writing style and LOVED her Chase Brothers (contemporary romance) series. Heart of Darkness is listed as a paranormal romance and wow…just wow, was it fantastic. I was hooked beginning to end.
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.
Meriel is the type of heroine I love to read about. She’s strong, confident and doesn’t take anyone’s crap. Meriel has grown up knowing who and what she is and what she is to become. She doesn’t shy away from these expectations nor does she let them totally define her. When her mother, leader of Clan Owen, charges her with investigating suspicions that a new club in town is siphoning magick from the Clan’s font (the collective pool of the clan’s magick), little does Meriel know who waits for her at the club, Heart of Darkness. Meriel meets her match, literally, in Dominic Bright, the owner.
Dominic is almost the complete opposite of Meriel in how he was raised, but is otherwise very similar (in personality) to Meriel. Dominic knows he is a witch, but he is clueless as to his true heritage until he meets Meriel. I loved Dominic. He’s that alpha type male who is cocky and a smartass, but because he is totally adorable and sweet (he is so protective and can’t bear for anyone or anything, including himself, to hurt Meriel or make her sad) once you cut through that, you love him.
Meriel and Dominic are explosive together from the very first meeting. Their magick recognizes each other as bond-mates. Since Dominic is new to all of this as he wasn’t raised in a clan and had no idea of his true power, it takes him some time to come to terms with it all. Meriel is awesome. She gives him the space he needs, confident he’ll accept it all and in turn help both of them come into exactly what they’re meant to be…badass leaders. Also, for the heat factor, if you’ve read a Lauren Dane before, you know she can bring the heat and Heart of Darkness is no exception.
As I mentioned, I was hooked from beginning to end. Ms. Dane’s world building was fantastic. I never felt the pace was too slow, which is a feat when creating a new world. I rarely found myself wanting to skip any pages and when I did, oddly enough it was to skip over the smexy parts to get back to that fabulous world building and action. I know, shocking ;), but her writing is that good and the world building was that fascinating. Of course all world building is significant and important in any PNR/UF but the way Ms. Dane weaved it in was also very integral to the story. From explaining who and what Meriel and Dominic are and are not (how she was raised vs how he was raised) all related to the other events occurring in the storyline. I highly recommend Heart of Darkness and am already eagerly awaiting the next in this fabulous new series, Chaos Burning, due out in June 2012.
Heart of Darkness