Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
I am not a fan of paranormal romances or paranormal mysteries or paranormal anything. I have had it up to HERE with vampires and werewolves and shapeshifters. I don't care about otherworldly critters or entities. I have enough trouble trying to exist on earth without worrying about those things.
So no one is more surprised than I am that I really, really enjoyed Dark Kiss.
Please do not judge this book by its incredibly lame cover. What the hell is that? A Chris Isaak / Elvis / Robert Pattinson mash up? And the wings? This book is so much better than that cover. Just forget about that rather odd - if nor injurious - marketing decision and crack this sucker (no pun intended - and you will know what I mean when you read it) open and start reading.
Samantha is seventeen and seemingly mired in mediocrity. She has a best friend, Carly, and she might have the teensiest crush on Carly's ex-boyfriend. But for the most part, Samantha feels like life sort of happens to her, rather than her happening to life. It is an unsatisfactory existence.
But then one night, she and Carly go to a teen club, and Samantha is kissed. Oh, boy, is she kissed. Not only that, but she's kissed by Stephen, Hottie McHot, the boy she has fantasized about kissing for a long time. And it's a good kiss. So good that Stephen's warning to her, that the kiss would be "very dangerous" and change her life forever, means nothing to her. He tells her she's delicious, and she feels dizzy. But cold. Very cold. And then he releasees her and says, "Sorry, kid. Really."
Not exactly the stuff of romance.
A few days later, she stumbles across an apparently homeless boy, and the two have an instant connection.
I felt uneasy now that he was towering over me rather than sprawled on the sidewalk, and yet I didn't turn away from him. Those eyes - they seemed to hold me in place. And he smelled so incredible - spicy and sweet - I couldn't even describe it properly. His very presence seemed to sink into my senses.
He tells her she is beautiful. He tells her his name is Bishop and he needs help finding the others. He touches her, and she has a vision of people being sucked into a giant back vortex, with Bishop just beyond her reach to rescue her.
What in the world is happening to Samantha?
There are many zigs and zags to this story. Bishop is an angel, sent here to combat demons. Some of "the others" are angels, some are demons themselves. But Bishop and his merry band of saviors all want to ensure the same thing: that the soulless demons - the "grays" - not succeed in whatever nefarious plan they are scheming.
Samantha, meanwhile, is special. There is something about her that is different from other angels, demons and humans. She can read minds, for one thing, and she can zap people. Those particular skills didn't come to her until after Stephen's kiss. Ah, yes, the kiss. It turns out that Stephen is a "gray," and he sucks out people's souls by kissing them.
Just as Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, so do the grays betray humans with an act of intimacy and love.
A lot goes on in this story, most of which I can't really discuss for fear of giving away too much. Suffice it to say that Samantha and Bishop sort of team up together, all the while fighting a fierce attraction to each other, not to mention all those grays. Bishop wants to find The Source, a mysterious woman who started this whole "I'm going to kiss your soul right out of you" business. The Source, Samantha discovers, has a connection to her.
Like I said, I am not typically a fan of paranormal stories, but this one is so good. The characters are interesting, the pacing is fantastic, and the story sucks you in. There I go again with the whole "sucking" thing.
Be warned, though: this book ends on a cliffhanger, which is NOT NICE. Now I have to find out what happens to Samantha. And I'm probably going to have to wait a while.
This isn't perfect - there are some easy coincidences and conveniences of plot that sort of cheapen the story at times. But it's good, and Michelle Rowen's story and characters will keep you turning those pages.