“You will gain what you have always wanted, but it will not be in the form you have dreamed of.”
Embraced by Darkness by Keri Arthur
The Riley Jensen series was recommended to me by several people. Some said, “It’s an excellent paranormal romance!” While others said, “It’s a great urban fantasy!” Well I understand why people are confused: This is one series where you can actually say it’s a Paranormal Romance AND Urban Fantasy.
The books are set in Melbourne, Australia, and I believe a time in the near future. I am not certain of the time frame, because they have the technology that we don’t, but they also seem to be our generation–so 10 or 20 years from now?
Urban Fantasy: The main character is Riley Jensen, half vampire and half werewolf female, and she works for a division called the Directorate–a supernatural police force that is judge, jury and executioner for the supernaturals of their world. And they have . . . vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, angels and demons. They also have technologically enhanced creatures, like clones.
Our main character is kick ass like many UF heroines. She fights well and knows how to use guns. And like many UF heroines, she is also frequently injured. Due to her dual nature, she also has weird abilities and quirks. She has a twin brother, Rhoan, who also has weird abilities and quirks, but they are a pack unto themselves. They are pretty much inseparable.
Romance: There are quite a few romantic entanglements of Riley’s, but it is evident early on who her happily ever after is going to be. And obviously, it takes them awhile to get there. One of the problems is that werewolves have soul mates, and Riley is constantly searching for hers. Another problem is that before werewolves find their true love, they are randy and take on a lot of lovers. It is part of their nature.
I would say this was an enjoyable series, with some problems. I love Riley as a character. She has a lot of depth and layers. I loved reading her dreams and aspirations, and how they changed over time. However, while we got a lot of insight from Riley, I felt a lot of the other characters got shafted. Rhoan, her brother, was an essential part of the team, yet I wanted to see more layers to his character than we got. I wanted to see the relationship between the two of them develop and get more nurtured. My favorite book in the series was the one where we got to see more depth to Rhoan and, his lover, Liander. Likewise, most of Riley’s lovers are terribly one dimensional. Like we are supposed to not like them. Even the ones we are supposed to like, go through changes to their characters, but it kind of appears out of nowhere.
The first plot arch was downright confusing and boring. I didn’t care about the clones or hold any strong hatred for the bad guys. Everything was jumbled. But after that thread was over, the plot got a lot more cleaner. I really enjoyed the mysteries and learning about Riley’s new and/or developing powers.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the openness about sex. One could say that this book was just about sex. But I don’t think it was. I think the author did an admirable job using sex as a plot device without the books being “all about sex”. Sex wasn’t something dirty that if someone had too much of it, she was a whore. As Riley said, it was something to be enjoyed and celebrated.
Overall, I recommend this series to people who genuinely enjoy UF or PNR books. If you are squirmy about sex, stay away, you won’t like it. This is also not the series to start your UF or PNR journey with. But I liked it well enough! I look forward to reading the spin-off series.
Sex: A lot. ‘Nuff said.
Violence: Also a lot. If you don’t have the stomach for it, don’t read this series.
Overall Series Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
List of the books (9 in total):
Full Moon Rising
Embraced by Darkness
The Darkest Kiss
Bound to Shadows
There is a spin off series called “Dark Angels“