Bonded by blood and dark secrets, they enter a place of danger and infinite pleasure…
He comes to her more dead than alive, a towering black-clad stranger, riddled with bullets and rapidly losing blood. As she struggles to save him, veterinarian Tess Culver is unaware that the man calling himself Dante is no man at all, but one of the Breed, vampire warriors engaged in a desperate battle. In a single erotically charge moment Tess is plunged into his world-a shifting, shadowed place where bands of Rogue vampires stalk the night, cutting a swath of terror.
Haunted by visions of a dark future, Dante lives and fights like there is no tomorrow. Tess is a complication he does not need-but now, with his brethren under attack, he must shield Tess from a growing threat that includes Dante himself. For with one reckless, irresistible kiss, she has become an inextricable part of his underworld realm… and his touch awakens her to hidden gifts, desires and hungers she never knew she possessed. Bonded by blood, Dante and Tess must work together to thwart deadly enemies, even as they discover a passion that transcends the boundaries of life itself…
Kiss of Crimson is book two in the Midnight Breeds series by Lara Adrian, and our hero is the lovely Dante. I may have mentioned this before, but I feel the need to tell you again: Dante pushes my buttons. He reminded me a little bit of Rhage from BDB, in that while he may act like a devil-may-care playboy, he’s actually a sensitive soul. And what girl can resist that combo? I’ll tell you: none.
Dante has had visions of death since he was a kid, and he knows how he’s going to die. So, he’s been doing all he can to outrun his future by living hard and fast. He fights, he fucks and he doesn’t look back. One night, while he’s engaged in his second favourite activity, Dante is injured by a pack of Rogues, and it looks like Dante’s fate has come to meet him early. And it does, only not in the form of the Grim Reaper. He stumbles into the first available building he comes across, not realising that his life is about to be thrown topsy-turvy. Turns out, the building he’s just broken into is a veterinary clinic run by Tess Culver. Tess has a way with wounded animals, and her life revolves around her clinic. She’s got a Dark Past, so she avoids commitment like the plague. No romance for Tess; her first and only love is her clinic. Thus, like any self-respecting workaholic, Tess often works late. So you can imagine her surprise when she finds a humongous, bleeding, leather clad guy in her storeroom. Like, what the hell?
I liked that Tess was sensible about the whole situation. She wasn’t all, “Ooooh, you’re sexy, so therefore you can’t possibly hurt me!” She knows that sexy doesn’t mean jack-squat in the grand scheme of things, and she wants to call the police. But, like I said, Tess has a bit of a soft spot for wounded animals and Dante manages to convince her to keep mum about the whole incident. Sadly, though, that is where things start going downhill. Dante isn’t only in need of stitches at this point; he also needs blood. Badly. In his desperation, Dante bites the only human available. This wouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances but, as luck would have it, Tess is a Breedmate and Dante has inadvertently claimed her as his mate. Given that the war between the Order and the Rogues is heating up, this is so not what Dante needs right now. I mean, he’s got Rogues to kill and he’s expecting death to crash into him any day now. A long-term relationship with a woman like Tess is the last thing on his mind.
While there was quite a bit of angst and romancing going on between Tess and Dante, the Order at large had their hands full with this creepy new drug called Crimson. It’s being sold to young vampires in clubs and, while it’s effect on humans are totally benign, it causes vampires who consume the drug to experience episodes of Bloodlust. This is a huge problem for the Order because it’s virtually impossible to determine which vampires are actually Rogue, and which ones have simply been exposed to Crimson.
What I also liked about Kiss of Crimson is that we meet some very interesting new characters. The first is Special Agent Sterling Chase. He appears to be as straight-laced as they come, but he’s determined to help the Order get Crimson off the streets. The Order guys aren’t too keen on him, but he eventually proves himself by turning out to be a surprisingly vicious fighter. Elise is Chase’s sister-in-law, and he’s got a gigantic torch burning for her. Not that Elise notices. She spends most of her time worrying about her son, Camden, and missing her lost husband (whose name escapes me). It honestly doesn’t occur to her to look at poor Chase as anything more than a brother.
Overall, I enjoyed Kiss of Crimson. Tess wasn’t annoying, Dante was hot, and the story was interesting. But I have two main issues. The first is superficial and relates to me being a wee bit of a fangirl: where the hell were Rio and Nikolai? While I loved Dante, a surplus of him does not mean that a deficit of those two hotties is acceptable. On a serious note, I felt that the ending was a little rushed. It was something that I’d noticed in Kiss of Midnight too, but I assumed it was a once-off. There were unresolved issues by the end both books that had nothing to do with the overall story line, but I still thought that they should have been addressed. Beyond those two complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it to those of you looking for a new paranormal series.