Vampire Sheikh

Josslyn Haliday has suffered a lot of losses in Egypt. First, her mother disappeared into the desert, leaving behind her archeologist husband and three daughters. Then, years later, her father vanishes into the sands as well. Now, in the space of a single summer of research, both Josslyn’s sisters have gone missing, too. Gemma’s final words of warning echo in her ears: Beware the vampire.

Of course, Josslyn doesn’t believe in vampires. Or shape-shifters. Or immortals. So when the threatening Harold Ray–armed with what looks unnervingly like fangs–breaks into her hotel room, approaches her bed, and warns her to stay away from Seth-Aziz, she is understandably rattled. Little does she know that she has already landed in the middle of a five-thousand-year old battle between two immortal, demigod vampires–Ray and Seth, the representatives of the Egyptian Gods of Light and Darkness.

Meanwhile, the hero of the book, Seth–who rules an underground palace of fellow immortals–is in dire need of blood. He is also under pressure from his council to select a new consort, though he would really rather not unless he finds a soulmate. When his sister Nephtys–a defector to Ray’s camp–delivers Joss to Seth, he determines to feed on her only. Such vows are easily weakened, especially after a bunch of really, really good sex and a romp in the desert.

The romance aspects of this book are abruptly interrupted by the conflicts and imminent battles between the two demigods’ camps. While this could be a good plotline, in Vampire Sheikh several elements of the millennia-old conflict simply do not ring true, especially its resolution.

Moreover, characters are not logically developed. For example, Seth has spent five thousand years underground in the desert, surrounded by brain-washed servants and immortal dependents who need him to assure their continued survival. Nonetheless, he talks like a contemporary man and seems shockingly enlightened (perhaps he ordered Our Bodies, Ourselves from Amazon to wile away the hours? Or had a tête à tête with Mary Wollstonecraft? Or read the “Great Works of the Enlightenment” in his spare time?).

I’m rating this book “Fetish/Kink/Extreme” in terms of Explicitness because for the most part the sex scenes are effective and highly sensual. Unfortunately, they were often also disturbing. Author Nina Bruhns establishes vampire bites as the ultimate aphrodisiac and claims that they create a kind of “addiction” in the bitten. Indeed, the vampire bite’s power is so strong that the victim is rendered incapable of saying “no.” Although Joss protests about the meaningless of her “consent” when she learns this little fact, the problem is soon set aside as Joss convinces herself that her experience is true love and not the insidious addiction that led Nephtys down a dangerous path. I, the reader, was not equally convinced.

The book also has some kink–some of which is fairly mild. Other scenes almost cross into the “taboo” and potentially disturbing (depending on your tastes and tolerance). A warning: Readers should really, really like big cats.

In conclusion, Vampire Sheikh is a diverting enough read, though in no way believable in terms of plot or characterization. It is sexy, despite the disturbing sexual dynamics portrayed. Although it is the third book in a trilogy, I did not feel at a severe disadvantage for not having read the previous two books. Indeed, I suspect from what glimpses I got of the protagonists of the previous novels that I might have found them more appealing.

This book is not one that I feel I can recommend with enthusiasm, but it is not enough to turn me away from trying other Nocturne romances. Hopefully others will be better plotted and more to my taste.

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