REVIEWED by Jen B.
SERIES: A Darker Hollow
AUTHORS: T.S. McKinney and Shannon West
PUBLISHER: Painted Hearts Publishing
RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2017
Jax’s little brother Mason is all grown up and finds himself longing for a life of adventure. He finds it in a way he never planned late one night while walking home to the lodge beneath a full moon, when he is attacked, bitten, and left for dead by a huge black werewolf. As he’s dying and all hope is fading, he is discovered on the trail and believes he’s being saved. Instead, he’s bitten a second time, and this time by a vampire, who first drains him of the remainder of his blood and then feeds him his own. It restores Mason’s life, but the vampires take him to their mountain stronghold in Virginia, where he’s confronted again by Valerian, the leader of the vampire coven and the one who saved him. The vampire is both seductive and beautiful, and convinces a confused and traumatized Mason that they’re lovers. Mason finds himself in the middle of an ancient war between the vampires and the Dire werewolves, and during a raid, he’s captured by the wolf who first bit him, a strong alpha named Finn. Finn is powerfully attracted to him too, but Mason is changing, becoming something not quite wolf and not quite vampire—a new creature with powers of his own. In order to find himself, he has to learn the truth of what’s happening to him, and discover who his enemies and his allies really are. He has to learn to fight for his happiness even if it means making an unholy alliance to find true love.
This is an interesting paranormal that is a bit on the darker/edgier side of the spectrum but also has a love and romance.
When this story begins, Mason is a human who somewhat ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. His brother, Jax, is mated to a wolf, so he is no stranger to the species. He currently lives in their pack though he has been thinking about branching out on his own.
Valerian is the head vampire whose sole purpose is to eradicate the wolves. Likewise, Finn is the Alpha Werewolf who is determined to extinguish the vampires (or nightwalkers, as they call them). It is in the midst of one of their fights that an injured Finn comes upon Mason and attacks him in his frenzied state. Before he can do anything further, he is run off by Valerian who then saves Mason and decides to make him his own.
Valerian uses his powers to make Mason forget everything he knew about his life and to also fall in love with him. But, when they are attacked by the wolves on a hunting expedition, Mason is recaptured by Finn, who then recognizes Mason as his mate. As Mason’s memories slowly return, he realizes Valerian’s betrayal and vows to kill him. He is also now falling in love with Finn as they spend more time together.
There is a lot more to this story than what it appears and more in-depth reasoning behind everything that happens. The end result is that Mason ends up being a hybrid species from the infection of both Valerian and Finn’s blood (among other things) and is thereby bound to both.
Mason is submissive, but not weak. He stands up for himself as much as he can (this takes a different turn as things progress) and has an entertaining sassy/snarky mouth. He isn’t blind to the fact that both men somewhat forced him to love them through coercion on Valerian’s part and the mating bond/ritual stuff on Finn’s. But, he also realizes he loves them both, and after they realize that Finn and Valerian have also harbored an attraction, things take another turn. But, things are far from settled as they must regroup before they can reclaim what is theirs.
This was fast-paced and exciting. It was a bit dark and edgy but their was still love and a bit of romance, without any extra fluff. I loved the different take on the paranormal aspects and am really excited to see where things go from here. Mason and his powers are continuously evolving and growing, and it is easy to see that he is the one holding power over the two alphas and they are all but powerless (or willing) to stop it.
If you like your paranormal with some unique twists and not too much fluff, give this new writing duo a try. I’m already looking forward to the next installment and hope we don’t have to wait too long to get it!