ARC-Review: HEART OF DARKNESS by Lauren Dane

From national bestselling author Lauren Dane comes a white-hot new series of a dangerous family legacy, and sensual paranormal passions played to the death on the knife-edge of darkness…

Meriel Owen, next in line to control the largest organization of witches in the country, is asked to investigate the owner of a notorious club reportedly siphoning magic from the font of the Clan. It’s a direct violation of the Clan Code of Conduct, but one look at Dominic Bright and Meriel’s willing to make a deal. One taste of the sexually feral outlaw witch, and she’s eager to go further: he’s her bond mate, a legal conduit into the world of Clan witches and their magic.

Playing by the rules isn’t Dominic’s style, but bonding with Meriel—night after explosive night—is. However, Meriel has unwittingly invited someone else into her world: Dominic’s mother, a dangerous and poisonously influential magic addict whose lust for death and power corrupts all she touches. Now her shadow is closing in on Meriel, her Clan, and the man Meriel loves, and it’s casting them all into the inescapable heart of darkness.

Author: Lauren Dane
Series: Bound by Magick, book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year of release: 2011, November 1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Won an ARC at author’s Blog

First line: Meriel sat, taking notes as her mother spoke from the head of the table.

Memorable Scenes:
– Dominic apologizing to Meriel after he shut her out when he found out his true heritage > very moving and first time I saw the vulnerability that was lurking beneath Meriel’s tough exterior.

Meriel Owen is the witch next in line to lead the Owen Clan, the crown princess so to speak. She is shrewd, compassionate, stubborn and up-front. But she’s also powerful and perceptive. She says what she thinks and though she may have a soft and compassionate side, when necessary she can be tough as nails.

Dominic Bright is an outclan witch who likes to play on the edge. He’s bold, rebellious, cocky and self-sufficient. He can also be a bit bossy and has enough self-assurance to pull of arrogant without going over the top.

The chemistry between Meriel and Dominic is scorching and tantalizing. From the moment they met on the page the sparks flew between them. I really liked the dry, subtle humor of both Meriel and Dominic, which made their dialogues interesting and entertaining to say the least.

Some interesting secondary characters are introduced in this first installment of the series. Some of these characters I’m sure will definitely have their own books further along in the series, others are already at the place where they form a secondary supporting cast for the main couple in HEART OF DARKNESS but also those in future books.

HEART OF DARKNESS wasn’t all about the romance. It also had some good world-building, it was not too complex but still very intriguing. To me, a reader who is not into too heavy world-building and likes her paranormal romances focused on the romance with the paranormal lightly weaved into it, HEART OF DARKNESS was a great read.

However I can imagine that readers who like their PNR and UF dark, will find this one too light for their taste. What I also loved about the plot part of HEART OF DARKNESS is that the overall main plot will presumably span several books in this series but this first book definitely had its own rounded plot-arc that will have its place in the overall plot. I really liked how the plot was set up and executed in this first installment.

I like that no matter what genre Lauren Dane books I read, they always have this distinctive recognizable style I like. With HEART OF DARKNESS it was no different. Her straightforward, direct and unapologetic writing appeals to me in both her contemporary and paranormal settings. I loved the vibe of this book. It had something laid-back and easy about it, but was still exciting, intriguing and compelling.

What I liked most in HEART OF DARKNESS was the chemistry between Dominic and Meriel, which led to awesome dialogues and some steamy love scenes . Combined with good, clear and not too descriptive world-building and the great characterization of both Meriel and Dominic I just loved reading this book and I look forward to whatever else Lauren Dane has to offer in this series.

Favorite Quotes:
Dominic Bright in the flesh was a punch to the gut. A sensory wallop of total and unbelievable hotness.

She continued her approach, steadying legs that may have buckled had she been a lesser woman, stopping finally when her thighs touched the table. The scent of his magick hung about him like a heavy cloak. And fed her like she’d been starving.
“Mr. Bright, you’ve been a very naughty boy.”
“So I’ve been told a time or two. I take it you’re Clan Owen here to spank me.”

She was everything all at once but he never felt as if he’d lost part of himself. Just more of something else added to that. She hadn’t made him whole, she’d simply snapped all the missing pieces together and in doing so he was whole.

This was part of what they were together. Meriel made his blood sing, made his magick rise, made him hard and short of breath.
This was everything.

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