Lara Adrian has really hit her stride. This is the fourth in her series about the Breed, vampires who battle rogue members of their kind and who, one by one, find their mates. The first couple of books seemed to rely very heavily on J.R. Ward's "Black Dagger Brotherhood" series for ideas, but it seems in this book, and to some extent in the last, that Lara Adrian has found her own voice. Yes, many aspects of the Breed's life seems like that of the Brotherhood, but as Lara Adrian has explored her world more fully in these books, they seem to have taken on more of a life of their own.
The hero of this book is Rio, scarred and wounded after the betrayal of his Breedmate Eva. Rio was meant to have destroyed a cave which contained the hibernation chamber of one of the Ancients in the middle of nowhere in the Czech Republic, but as the story opens he hasn't yet done it. Several months have passed with Rio living in the cave almost like some kind of animal, suffering from the blackouts and mood swings as a result of his injuries in the explosion in the first book, trying to work up the energy to destroy the cave - and himself with it. Unfortunately for Rio, the cave is discovered by a young American woman on holiday with some friends; not only does she discover the cave and see Rio, she photographs the contents. Rio desperately needs to do some damage limitation to prevent the photographs being shared with other people, and the existence of the Breed perhaps being made known to the world. He tracks the woman, Dylan Alexander, but when he finds her he discovers things are worse than he had feared: she's a reporter and has sent the photographs back to her editor in
the U.S., who has passed them on to some other people.
Rio realizes that all he can do is destroy the cave, kidnap Dylan, and take her back to the Breed headquarters in Boston to get the other warriors to help to scrub the minds of the people who have seen the photographs before they are printed in the magazine. Things
become even worse when Rio discovers Dylan is a Breedmate, and that she has a very strong reason not to settle into the Darkhavens but to carry on her life in New York City. As Rio and the other warriors try to keep their secrets under wraps, investigate some strange murders and keep Dylan safe, things get very complex indeed.
This story is stronger on characterization than some of the others in this series. Rio plays the damaged, wounded man very well - and he's also remarkably close-mouthed when it comes to secrets. Dylan, being a journalist, is full of questions, most of which aren't answered to her satisfaction. She is described
so well that we understand why she doesn't fear Rio as much as she might, and how she is able to cope with and accommodate to the drastic changes in her life.
Other characters from previous novels are in this book, including Andreas Reichen in Berlin and Sterling Chase, the Enforcement Agent-turned-Warrior. However the majority of the pages focus on Rio and Dylan and their interactions.
The 'baddie' in this book gets a few pages to himself, but this isn't a distraction from the overall central plot: Rio's post-trauma problems and Dylan's life choice. It
is a great read overall, probably the best in this series so far. I look forward to the next story, focusing on Nikolai, due to be released in December 2008.