Genre Urban Fantasy Published 30 July 2013 Publisher Random House Series Nikki and Michael book one
Private Investigator Nikki James grew up on the tough streets of Lyndhurst and believes there’s nothing left to surprise her. But all that changes the night she follows a rich man’s daughter into the shadows and finds herself caught in a war between two very different men. One is a madman, intent on destruction. The other has his own heart of darkness.
For three hundred years, Michael Kelly has existed in life’s shadows, gradually learning to control his vampire cravings. He is convinced that no one can breach his formidable barriers—until he meets Nikki. With her powerful psychic abilities, Nikki swiftly invades both his mind and his heart. Nikki knows how dangerous love can be . . . but if she wants to survive, she must place her trust in this man who could easily destroy her. For only together can they overcome the evil threatening to destroy them both.
The Urban Book Thief Review
The storyline grabbed my attention from the outset. Creepy house – check. Feisty female with paranormal abilities – check. Life endangering situation – check. A mysterious dark haired man with a cryptic message – screw the list, I’m hooked!
This series actually predates Ms. Arthur’s Riley Jenson books and has been polished up and re-released with a brand new spanking cover. Woop – let the sexy times commence! Fortunately for me, I didn’t get to read this series the first time around… unfortunately though, when compared to the author’s later books, it doesn’t hit the mark in quite the same way. The writing is a wee bit cheesy and some of the concepts are a little cliche, more paranormal romance than a crime fighting urban fantasy, but what the hell – it was still a damn good ride!
Four women have gone missing and Nikki James is on the hunt to find the evil perp and give him ‘what for’. She works for a private detective agency with Jake, her mentor, a kindly older chap who helped her escape a life on the streets when she was a teenager. Nikki suffers from survivors guilt. She chose not to save someone 10 years ago and now goes all out kamikaze to pay for her sins – well, that’s certainly one way to fight I suppose. She also has mummy issues, Daddy issues and just ‘plain old’ issues. But unlike a lotta UF heroines she doesn’t spend all day moaning about it. Probably because she has a lot more on her plate to worry about, such as investigating crime and catching slime (ooh catchy!), as well as keeping a hold on some super sweet psychic and kinetic powers.
Nikki has been hired by some super rich city slicker to track and find out what his wayward teenage daughter has been getting up to. She soon realises that there is a connection here to the missing women and is hell bent on solving the case. This leads Nikki straight into the lap of the big bad, who we find pretty early on has been a busy boy, killing innocent women and raising them from the dead to become super ass-kicking zombies.
Nikki rocks. She’s a straight-talking, no nonsense missy. Plus she’s an ex-smoker, so we share an affinity with addictive substances and will be best friends forever. On a side note, I do hope she picks up a side-kick or two in the next book. There was a distinct lack of wise-cracks or crazy partner to make with the funny and lighten some very heavy moments.
Now let us raise our hands in prayer and welcome Michael Kelly, a vampire with a touch of the Irish about him.
“You’re a stubborn woman, Nikki James.”
She smiled at the hint of exasperation in his voice. He’d only known her twenty-four hours, and already he’d come to that realization? It usually took people far longer to see through her polite veneer.
“And this is one of my good days,” she replied lightly. “Now, would you please remove the damn splinters?”
“As you wish.”
Oooh, shades of Wesley! That’s one for the Princess Bride fans.
The POV repeatedly slips between Michael and Nikki. I’m not usually a fan of this, but their story is so interconnected that it worked without too much of a disruption to the overall flow of the story.
Michael Kelly is one son of a freakin’ gun. With a face that launched a thousand ships, he has the rather annoying habit of reading Nikki thoughts: without even apologising for it. Dude! This man is not above hand kissing and I for one am glad. Gentlemen make note! For me, Micheal is very reminiscent of Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark, handsome and tortured. He’s a vamp who ‘feels’ a lot and makes mysterious appearances before donning his metaphorical cape and whisking off into the dark night. Muhaha!
For most of the book, we are left guessing over Michael’s relationship with the zombie making bad boy Jasper. But more interestingly, why is he tailing (ahem stalking) Nikki? Is he protecting her or setting her up for something bigger? Our crime busting PI finds it difficult to trust him, and so she should. This naughty vamp is keeping a very big secret from her. Tut, tut.
Now, okay… something I personally struggle with is when a character says the immortal words, ‘make love to me’ [insert strong masculine name here]. I just cant take it seriously, I mean, who says that? Who actually, really says that out aloud? Or am I the only one afflicted with this problem? And this phrase gets used A LOT in this book. This bothered me and felt out of place in this gritty, dark world. Mini-Rant Over.
On the downside, both characters have a rather bleak outlook on life and a fairly depressing way of seeing the world. Where’s the happy? So it’s probably best if you read this when you’re not having a meh week.
It was a good read. But not a great one. With so many great UF series out there such as Chicagoland and Mercy Thompson, book two is gonna need some serious action otherwise I might end up leaving this one behind…
Just a question – Ms. Arthur, how does one take a, ‘ponderous step forward’? Answers on a postcard please…
The Urban Book Thief has awarded Dancing with the Devil a kiss factor rating of three – Long live UF books with a cheesy romance sub plot!