Tour’s Books Blog

July 3, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Inferno by Bianca D’Arc (erotic romance)

  • Title: Inferno
  • Author: Bianca D’Arc
  • Type: Erotic romance
  • Genre: Urban fantasy – series
  • Sub-genre: none
  • My Grade: B (4*)
  • Rating: XX
  • Warnings: ménage and more

After several rather ordinary short novels in the Brotherhood of the Blood series, Ms D’Arc has finally come through with a worthwhile follow-up to her Lords of the Were. In Lords of the Were the story of the reappearance of the minions of Elspeth, Destroyer of Worlds began unfolding when the new Priestess of the Lady of the Light is attacked by a human mage, Patrick Vabian, with the aid of a vampire, Dante d’Angelterre. Once Dante realizes the evil mage’s intent, he turns on him and helps the Were Lords fight him. Also involved in the fight with the mage is Duncan la Fey, a half Fey knight who is summoned from hundreds of years of exile Underhill for annoying the Fey Queen, Mab. Dante and Duncan had been friends and the two had fought together against Elspeth, the Mater Priori. Now she’s making small inroads in coming back with the aid of long hidden followers, the Venifucus sect. The Altor Custodis, a supposedly benign group of watchers, has been infiltrated by the Venifucus and they are using AC’s network of informants to track their prime targets, the biggest threats to Elspeth’s return. One of them is Dante.

Inferno opens as Duncan decides to stay with Dante for awhile after their adventures in Montana and they return to his NYC home. Duncan, after so much time alone, is hungry for female companionship and drags Dante to a bar. As they walk in, Dante spots as she-wolf and is immediately attracted. Megan is a half-were paying a debt of honor her grandfather’s incurred when, as Were Lords, they sanctioned the death of a young fire mage in Chicago. This is her last assignment for the Altor Custodis, spying on Dante and discovering the fate of Patrick Vabian, then her family honor is redeemed. Little does she know that her superior at the AC is actually a member of the Venifcus and has bespelled her blood to poison any vampire that drinks it.

As Dante and Megan leave the bar, a blond in a black Porsche comes screaming up and throws a fireball directly at Dante. For some reason it veers off and Megan, in half shift, steps in front of Dante and takes a direct hit from the second. Duncan and Dante get her back to his home where, thanks to her were blood, she recovers quickly. So quickly, the next night she and Dante go to a vampire ball that the Mistress is giving. The father of the Mistress, and leader in all but name, dances with Megan and suddenly bites her. Dante is furious, then frightened when Sir Heathclif Dean begins to fall – poisoned by her blood. They save him through the sex magic that feeds the strength of vampires as much as blood. Most were, fey and vampires are very sexual beings and all know the strength to be found in its bonds. (I admit I was humming Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye several times in this book.)

Duncan determines that Megan has a pure heart and had no idea her blood had been bespelled to be poison for vampires – especially deadly for Dante. Next night, the recovered Heath is told of the re-emergence of Venifcus. Duncan uses fey magic to probe and question Megan. The compulsion to not speak the name of the man who is her contact in the AC was too strong to break and he could not take the poison from her blood. They do learn her family’s story – it was her grandfather’s who ordered the death of the firemage friend of Dante. Heath let’s them leave while he puts protective measures into action for the vampires.

Next morning, back the brownstone, suddenly a Molatov cocktail sails thru the window and lands on Megan, but doesn’t break. She races it to the kitchen and hits it with water, but the fire spreads anyway. It takes Duncan’s fey spells to put it out. It was hellfire. By then the automatic sprinklers were on and the fire department was on its way – and amazingly, Dante is awake at mid-day. The firemen are were and their chief is the Alpha, Kevin. He meets with Dante and the others and told of Venifcus. He calls a meeting at a bar the were own and fully discuss the whole thing, including Megan’s outcast status with the pack.

Duncan must get Dante to agree to share Megan until her blood is safe. He realizes his old friend is getting possessive and would like bite her in the throes of passion – a sure death sentence. This triad is not at all to Dante’s liking, but he realizes it’s the only way he can be with Megan for the time being. This makes finding – and preferably killing – the mage responsible for Megan’s bespelled blood top of the ‘to do’ list. The spell will end with the mage’s death.

In this book we meet Selkies, water shifters that very secretive, even from other shifters. The enormity of the threat begins coming home to all of them as various prophesies begin getting fulfilled, including a very old one involving Dante. I am glad that, unlike some authors, Ms D’Arc settled Megan’s and Dante’s portion of the story while other elements and the larger story will continue to unfold. I really hate having the central characters’ relationship left hanging.

The plot of Inferno and the Tales of the Were series is fairly complex and there are a lot of characters in various locations. Since the characters are so very different in cultural background and experience, the one weakness in these books is keeping certain characters IN character. One of the problems with taking someone out of their time and placing them in the here and now is speech, in particular the use of slang and modern idioms. Since the story setting is now, it’s hard to remember the speech should not be. Even the best authors slip up. In fact, in the movie, Death on the Nile with Peter Ustinov (Hercule Poirot), David Niven (Col. Race) and Betty Davis (Mrs. Van Schuyler) heading an all-star cast, set in the 1930’s, has Poirot interviewing the formal and old-fashioned Mrs. Van Schuyler. She says, ‘’……………. What are you referring to?” No upper class society matron would have ended a sentence in a preposition. She would have said, “ ……. To what are you referring?” Every time I hear it I cringe. OK, maybe that’s a bit subtle for most, but how about an ancient half-fey who has been alone in banishment for hundreds of years saying, “That’s good……….That’s real good, sweetheart,……….” Or “Dante’s a lucky son of a gun.” and “I like your style, Megan…………” That’s real good? Son of a gun? I like your style? I actually read that “son of a gun” one twice and burst out laughing. It’s idioms like these that give characters away and breaks the spell of their ‘reality’.

Inferno moves along well, the sex, while hot, does not overwhelm the plot. Megan and Dante have grown in stature by the end. Megan gains self assurance and a place in the world – and someone to share it with. Dante, an honorable man at heart, finds redemption and peace with the past and a challenge to be more in the future for everyone’s sake. Definitely one of Ms D’Arc’s better efforts.

Who would enjoy this book: Fans of Bianca D’Arc’s Dragon Knights, Lauren Dain’s Cascadia Wolves and Witches Knot series, and Jory Strong’s Supernatural’s series.

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