Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beyond the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy

Salvatore Giuliani is the King of the Werewolves, and he's on the trail of a set of weres who don't want to bend under his rule. But while he is chasing them, he discovers the scent of a strange, purebred female running with the Curs. Not just any purebred female, but one of a special set of four he had specially bred to save the Werewolves, which are dying out. The Purebred females can no longer control their shifting during the nights of the full moon, which leads to them spontaneously aborting their pups.

While the purebreds reproduce by breeding, curs are formed when a Were bites a human and infects them with the Werewolf virus. But even the bites of the Curs seem to be losing potency at passing on the virus, and no one seems to be able to find out or figure out why. So Salvatore's scientists worked on the blood of purebred females to create four female babies who were purebreds, but were unable to shift with the moon, enabling them to be the salvation of the Weres, the purebloods at the very least.

Unfortunately, two of the girl babies have been found, but one of them married the Anasso of the Vampires, Styx, and the second, Regan, married Jagr, another vampire. And Regan was sterile, which meant that her loss didn't affect the fate of the Weres. But Salvatore finds himself unconsciously attracted to the female on his radar, Harley.

But Harley, who lived for almost her entire life being tortured by the Imp Curley, has absorbed everything she knows about Werewolf society and its King from Caine, the leader of the curs- and he's convinced her that Salvatore hates her so much that he will kill her on sight. And Salvatore, who tends to be rather arrogant and dictatorial anyhow, finds Harley alternately attracted to him and pulling away when he pisses her off, which is seemingly every five minutes. But as his attraction grows to his destined mate, can he convince Haley that he is on her side and gain her regard and love while tracking down the curs who raised her, and their leader, who apparently also holds her remaining missing sister? And can she find happiness and even love with Salvatore, and will her sisters be able to ease her mind regarding the King of the Werewolves, or will their words and help merely drive them further apart?

I haven't read any of Alexandra Ivy's books before, to my memory, but the cover of "Beyond the Darkness", which is the sixth book in the "Guardians of Eternity" series, did look interesting, so I picked it up. However, there is a lot going on in the book, which made me feel like I had missed out on a great deal by not reading the books that had come before. And despite there being enough information to understand most of the gist of the story, I still often felt I wasn't really behind the eight ball when it came to understanding the bigger picture.

I have to say that I wasn't really attracted to Salvatore, though. He wants Harley as his own, but he often got on my nerves when it came to how he treated her, I felt that he was sometimes an "Alpha male" in all the worst ways. Not enough to be labelled an "Alphole" as some have labelled the trope, but sometimes he skirted close to that edge, which was a turn-off for me. And yes, he rather redeemed himself in the end, but I still felt ambivalent to his character even at the end. The best romance writers can make the reader fall in love with the hero themselves, but I just wasn't feeling the character of Salvatore as someone I would even really be attracted to.

In the end, this book was not quite a success for me. It was a nice read, but the hero didn't attract me, and I felt that his arrogance and need to be in command often triumphed over the building of his character as a figure I was supposed to be attracted to, and for a romance, that's a failure. On the other hand, i did enjoy the way that Alexandra Ivy wrote the story and her storytelling, which means I'd still pick up another book by her in the future. In fact, I might decide to pick up the first book in the series and read this one again after reading the others to see if that improved my perception of the characters and story. Right now, not recommended, but I am willing to change my mind on this.

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