Danger Calls, by Caridad Piñeiro

>> Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Caridad Piñeiro's Darkness Calls was my pick for best category romance of 2004. It was a darker and grittier read than the average category book, and I very much enjoyed the beta, vulnerable vampire hero and the dark, kick-ass latina heroine. Danger Calls (extras) is its sequel.

Love the cover, BTW. The blonde looks just as Melissa is described, and the background, with its gothicky fence and old houses behind it, gives a very good idea of what the book's ambience is like.

One night was all it could ever be... because Dr. Melissa Danvers was a vampire's keeper. Honor-bound to prepay the man who'd always been there for her, Melissa hoped the 140-year-old immortal could uncover the mystery surrounding her parents' deaths. Complicating her mission was Sebastian Reyes, the young, sexy entrepreneur whose wild lovemaking left her sated, yet burning for more.

One night of passion with the beautiful healer would haunt Sebastian the rest of this life. Now Melissa needed his computer expertise to unravel a crime and stay one step ahead of a desperate killer. Sebastian was strictly a no-strings-attached guy. Until danger and desire delivered him to the one woman his soul couldn't forget.
Piñeiro truly is a buried treasure. I'm surprised her books haven't garnered much more attention. This was really good. A B.

Danger Calls is very much a sequel to Darkness Calls, rather than merely a spin-off of it. The ending of Darkness left plenty of issues hanging, even though the HEA we had WAS satisfying. I mean, Diana's case was closed and she and Ryder were together and planning a future, but we still had no idea of how they were going to deal with the fact that Ryder was a vampire and Diana wasn't. Nor did we know a whole lot about Ryder's vampirism, or about whether there were others like him around. And then there was the issue of Melissa Danvers, Ryder's "keeper". Would she have to live her whole life hanging on Ryder's needs, as her ancestors had, out of a sense of duty and responsibility?

Danger focuses on this last question, mostly, though there are certain hints about the others, as well. While Diana and Ryder are vital characters in this story, the focus here is on Melissa Danvers and Sebastian Reyes, Diana's brother.

From what I've written above, it's probably obvious that this is a book that doesn't really stand alone very well. In fact, even though I reread Darkness not too long ago, I was slightly lost at first. You know how sometimes reading a book in a series without having read the previous ones can feel like arriving at a party with people you don't know, who all know each other and keep chatting about people and events you know nothing about? Well, this wasn't quite like that, but it was similar. It was more like arriving late at a party full of friends of yours and finding them all talking about something that happened right at the beginning of the party, which you obviously missed.

The book starts only a few months after the events in Darkness, and we're dropped right in the middle of things. Someone has stolen one of Melissa's father's journals, in which he, as his "vampire keeper" ancestors had done before him, recorded the everyday details of caring for Ryder. Diana and Ryder and Melissa are obviously very worried, especially after some initial investigation shows that Melissa's parents' death wasn't an accident, as they had thought, and they, together with Sebastian, try to get to the bottom of things. It took me a little while to understand exactly what was going on, at the beginning, but I was soon all caught up and ready to go.

I thought Sebastian was a particularly fascinating character. I think this might actually be the first time that I've read a romance novel hero that I actually recognize as my contemporary. Sebastian is in his 20s, and he acted like it, both in his attitudes and in his fashion choices ;-) About his actions and attitudes, I do NOT mean he was immature. It's just that even young heroes in romance novels tend to feel weirdly settled, and Sebastian was different in that.

I also liked that he wasn't immediately all macho-man, I'll-protect-my-woman the minute Melissa asked him for help, even though they had a past and were still very attracted to each other. He simply found himself pretty creeped out by the whole thing with Ryder and with the murders and stolen journal, and he's not at all convinced that he wants to get involved, basically because his very conservative father destroyed much of his self-esteem and he now can't accept that he might be able to be Melissa's "hero".

He and Melissa were sweet together, and I enjoyed the romance, even though I actually found myself even more interested in what was going on around them. As in the previous book, while the "case" is closed and Sebastian and Melissa end up very much together, not all questions are answered, and there are plenty of hints of more developments to come.

The next book in the series, Temptation Calls deals with another vampire, a female one (will Ryder finally discover that there are, indeed, other like him out there?), and there's another book in the series, Death Calls, coming out in November. I'm not sure what that one's about (can't find any blurbs yet), but I seem to remember Ms. Piñeiro leaving a comment in my review of Darkness Calls and mentioning there would actually be another book about Diana and Ryder, so this one might be it!


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