This last week I delved into Sarah Piper's Dark Deception, her new (ish) vampire romance series. Like me, she's a bit of a vampire fan, so this was a passion project that really shined through.
This book starts off with our two main characters, Charlotte D'Amico and Dorian Redthorne, attending a private art auction. Dorian, a royal vampire, is there to purchase a piece of art he's particularly fond of, but Charlotte, on the other hand, is there to case out the place for her uncle, a renown art thief. Straight off the bat, we have the potential for an awesome, unique story. An art thief and a mysterious royal vampire? Not a pairing I've seen before. Heck, I've never even read a book that features art the way this one does. It was refreshing, to say the least.
Charlotte and Dorian, not knowing who each other is, take a sexy shine to each other and have more than a little fun at the venue. But as Charlotte's uncle tricks her into attending another event she's to case out, this one run by the royal vampire himself, she's thrust into a sticky situation where she's forced to choose between her family and her heart. Cue angst.
For me, their steamy relationship, mixed with neither of them telling the truth to each other about who they really are, created the perfect mixture of tension, steam, romantic build, and angst. This was almost perfect for me. I cannot wait to see where their romance goes next.
The female main character, Charlotte, is one of my favourite. She's somehow a badass and emotional. It's usually one or the other in these books, so it's amazing to see something more realistic. She has an emotional goal for the reasons why she does what she does: to protect her sister. But she also doesn't take shit from Dorian, which is awesome. She's fierce, she's afraid, she fights back, she steps up, but she also knows when to step down. She's not so badass that she goes and gets herself into trouble she needs saving from (which is trope that can just die, in my opinion). I loved seeing her with her sister, too. It's always great when the female main character has more relationships than just with the guy. I hope she makes some friends in the next few books. Dorian is a caring vampire with a dominant streak, which, again, is a realistic character. He's not so dominant that he doesn't care, but he's also not so emotional that he's a wreck. He's strong yet caring. And I'm loving this dual dynamic Sarah has created for them both. He also has relationships with others, which is nice to see, but especially his relationship with his best friend. My weird and twisted brain was hoping for an MMF with this, but it's just a regular MF, I think. Sigh. Oh well, it's still a brilliant book. Dorian is going through some serious internal shit in this book, but it never ruins things with Charlotte or gets in the way. He stands up to his brothers to defend her, a human, but he also takes into account how his relationship is going to affect the vampire community. His is royal, after all.
Set in a big city--New York City, I believe--this is the usual urban fantasy stuff. Vampires are at the forefront, alongside witches (Sarah Piper's specialty) and demons, but there's also mention of werewolves. So this is definitely a fully fledged urban fantasy and not a paranormal romance. Given that Dorian is royal, you get to really see how the vampires are run, which I'm hoping comes more into the light as the series progresses. So you get to see the royal family, how important connections are, the other clans, how they interact, which clans are rivals, etc. You get all of that in this. And I LOVE series that have good world building, which is why this is a category in my reviews, so even worlds based on ours are great to see. Even contemporary needs good world building and use of setting, and this gives you that without drowning the reader in description. I personally would like to see more of the regular world, the werewolves, and how everyone interacts outside of the royal family.
This was beautifully written. A step up from Witch's Rebel, for sure. Not that that series was bad, per se, but it had some errors, and you can definitely see an improvement in Sarah's writing overall, not just in the editing and proofing. There are some beautiful phrases and paragraphs here, and even though it's written in third (I prefer first), I still felt connected to the characters throughout, which is an impressive feat for me. There was a fair amount of information dumping throughout this book that occasionally pulled me out of the action and story, but a lot of it would have been hard to show. They both have backstories, the lore and fantasy elements always need explaining, so I'm not complaining too much. But trimming this would have been nice and kept me engaged more in the slower chapters.
Overall, a brilliant book, and I would highly recommend. Five stars from me. Cannot wait to carve out some time in my insane schedule and binge read the rest of the series.