Near Death - Nancy Kilpatrick

(Power of the Blood, #2)
Paranormal Romance

The second book in Kilpatrick's Power of the Blood World, NEAR DEATH is the story of the vampire David Lyle Hardwick - a poet who for over a centruy has lived in the unholy world of the undead, resiting his thirst for blood. Zero, a beautiful, wounded mortal, is sent to destroy him but falls for his seductive power and together they set out in search of his enemies. As their torrid love affair grows, so too does David's unspeakable tormented desire. He is becoming Nosferatu, and when his fury is unleashed who will be safe, not even his own kind...

Before I begin my usual rambling, here’s a needed forewarning:

***This vampire novel is one where the vampires can be the good guys (the ones we’re rooting for anyway), with a romantic sub-plot. I include this warning due to the fact many don’t care for this type of sub-genre. If you do enjoy it, read on.***

This novel isn’t straight horror. It almost reads like a paranormal romance would, except it classifies more under the horror label because of some of the horrid situations, the bizarre violence, and the ‘war against vampires.’ ­ things you don’t see in paranormal romance. One of the more violent scenes involve the sexual house dungeon with the sadist that uses both his fists and ‘snakes.’

The plot itself looks light and easy on the top, but really has some jarring twists thrown in constantly. The main female lead, Zero, has a job to do: Stake the vampire David via a sloppily written note. Not knowing what she’s gotten herself into, she begins the job while high as a kite, obviously not succeeding. From there, her and vampire David return to the city, to lay low in her apartment and discover who has kidnapper her younger ‘brother’, and who wants to kill him ­ presumably the same person. Throughout it all, more revelations are uncovered about Zero herself, David’s past life and enemies, the meaning of everything, and their evolving relationship.

Many of the sex scenes were more detailed and harsh than one would see in a romance type, another reason it dons the horror tag. Again, the surprises, when revealed, were biggies. This is what kept me glued to the book. Although there are faults, I kept reading to figure out what’s next after being stunned yet again by another thing I never thought would be true. That’s not to say everything unpredictable, though ­ I saw the end villain coming from a mile away.

Where the novel did fail, though, was that it was a bit cliché in terms of the romance relationship. It also had some characters that grated on my nerves a bit, and there was a sense of predictability toward the end. This is the type of formula these novels go by, though, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If this type of novel is what you dig, and erotic horror is your love, I think you’ll enjoy it.

The main characters were easily latched on to. They seemed realistic and although they pity themselves a bit too much at times, their personalities are both amusing and deep. I especially enjoyed the POV through the vampire, David, who came across both strong and competent, while still retaining some of his old human side. The main female lead, Zero, is definitely not the classic protagonist. With a horrendous past of abuse, then drug addiction, living in the crums of the city and supporting herself through prostitution, she’s an interesting breed indeed. With a IQ that’s not that sharp and an education that disappeared a long while back, she lends to the story child-like insight, amazing courage, loyalty to those she loves, and honest to God realistic human traits and vulnerabilities.

It starts with an intended execution and ends in a giant supernatural war. The pace was strong, consistent, with no scenes where the two just sat there ‘twiddled their thumbs’ for the heck of it. All scenes meant something and kept the novel moving at a steady rate toward the intended resolution. Goals were consistently changed to keep up with the new discoveries, and all actions on the part of the characters were logical, rang true, and didn’t seem ‘forced’.

Kilpatrick writes with a light hand, using mucho comedy in her piece, while also getting the point across in as little words as possible. She doesn’t rely heavily on cliché romantic ‘feelings’, such as the ‘lightning bolt sensation when her hand brushes his.’ She also avoids making either of the protagonists life too nice and clean - I applaud her on those two techniques.

Overall, the thing that wins this novel over from stale to something- you - cant -put -down- to- save- your- life is that there are surprises along the way that jarred me to the floor. Things about one of the protagonists I would have never imagined. Some of it was predictable, sure, but for the most part: complete disbelief.

I’d recommend this novel for some entertaining reading, but nothing I’d pay much money on.

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