Review: Private Demon by Lynn Viehl

From the book:
He found the fact that she hid the candy and the books in her desk rather endearing. He had even read one of the books—Pride and Prejudice—although he had thought many of the heroine’s problems could have been solved if someone had simply strangled her mother.

Genre: Urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Year of publication: 2005
No. in series: 2
Setting & time: Chicago, USA; contemporary

Darkyn (i.e. vampire) Thierry Durand, cured in body but not in mind after the horrific events described in If Angels Burn, has escaped from captivity and arrives in Chicago, full of angst and knowing that he cannot be sure of being able to control himself from going totally berserk when met with difficult situations. He feels like he needs to redeem himself for past events and plans to start by exacting revenge on a group of men who mutilated a young protégé of the doctor who healed him.

In Chicago, heiress Jema Shaw is trying to live a normal life in the shadow of type 1 diabetes and under the heel of her domineering and manipulative mother. She was a friend of the injured girl and Thierry suspects that she knows something about the attack, but he can’t ask her directly, so he uses his psychic talent (every Darkyn has a different one) to enter her dreams and try to pry it out of her. The two begin to fall in love, but complications ensue, involving the Brethren, a plot to harm Jema, a group of skinheads, and another Darkyn who also loves her.

This book picks up some days or weeks after If Angels Burn ends and besides being the story of Thierry and Jema it continues a story arc that began in that book and will presumably continue in the following books. Thierry is a typical angsty hero with bigger problems than most. Driven to madness by torture, both physical and psychological, he has recovered somewhat by being freed from the excruciating pain that plagued him, but he has no mental brakes and is a danger to all he meets. Being sane enough to realise this, he avoids people as much as possible and only communicates with Jema through dream telepathy, which is described in detail in some very realistic dream sequences that cleverly show the development of their relationship – much better, I think, than a series of sex scenes ever could have.

Out of the dream-world Jema is a somewhat pathetic creature, right until the climax, when you finally begin to understand why she is so weak. I look forward to hopefully seeing her blossom in the following books.

The focus in this book is about equally on both lovers, which is an improvement over If Angels Burn where the focus was much more on Alexandra than on Michael. There is never a dull moment, the pacing is fast and sometimes furious, and the characters come alive on the page. I’m giving this one 3+ stars for its nice balance between humour and seriousness, fantasy and stark reality, thrills and romance.

Let’s end this review like it began, with a teaser, this one from one of the dream scenes:

The place wasn’t just plain disgusting, Jema decided. It was fancy disgusting. It was disgusting with a wine waiter and no prices on the menu.


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