Play with fire, pay the price.
Leila’s years on the carnie circuit were certainly an education. What she didn’t learn: how to be a vampire, or how to be married to the most famous vampire of them all. Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, and now the real danger is about to begin…
Vlad must battle with a centuries-old enemy whose reach stretches across continents and whose strength equals his own. It isn’t like Vlad to feel fear, but he does…for Leila, because his enemy knows she is Vlad’s greatest weakness. As friend and foe alike align against him—and his overprotectiveness drives Leila away—Vlad’s love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both…
First off… just damn, damn, damn…. and did I mention damn? I think so far out of the series’ three books (again, so far.. there is one more coming soon in this series...) this is the best one yet! BAM! Talk about a lot of “oh my God, what the f*ck” moments. It was heart pounding, gruesome and ten shades of f*cked up. I loved every second of it. It did make my skin crawl a time or two… not even gonna lie. there were tough moments that made me read through tears and a couple that broke my heart. But, I can say payback is the mother of all evils. Heart warming moments, anger filled moments and all the tears that can fall (or maybe that was just for me) made this one I will never forget. Gah, just loved it.. so much that I read it twice back to back. Dude that like very seldom ever happens. (laughs) I do love Vlad, and Leila has grown on me as well. Anyways, onto the review.
***small spoiler alert***
I love the dynamics between Vlad and Leila. They are matched well, their love has grown and blossomed into something extremely special. I mean who thought Vlad, of all vampires, would ever find a human, fall in love, fight for her, save her, change her and then marry her? Well no one. But it happened and together they are a great team. Vlad, the ever present ALPHA male of alpha males is keeping Leila (who can be reckless) on a short leash if you will. They are still on the hunt for Szilagyl’s accomplices or allies. Anyone plotting against Vlad. And how do they do that? Invite the people you suspect could be bad to your home for a masquerade dance. This way Leila can snoop through the people, using her gifts to spy and see if any of them are working for Szilagyl. But the jig gets called early when one of the guest decides to put his hands on Leila. Vlad isn’t happy about that. Apparently the man is bad news. But he doesn’t make it long.
Vlad burns him to bits in front of all the guests. Has the place put on lock down until Leila can do more snooping… then he takes her to their room. Anger and Vlad are one in the same when it comes to Leila. He will do anything to protect her from anyone, including herself. Anything, including coating her in his aura (again) so all of her psychic abilities are muted. And boy that does not sit well with her. But she has to deal with it because he isn’t sorry he did it and he will do it again. (Can’t say I blame him at all.) The next part of their “finding Szilagyl mission” is to take a trip to Payns, France. And at first Leila is shocked when Vlad says they are there to see Maximus. But then there he is. Vlad has a proposition for him. Find and infiltrate Szilagyl’s masses. Become a spy. No one would think he’d be a double agent after what had already happened between them. Maximus agrees to do it.
A month later a message comes in. Vlad goes to see about it (since no one else knows that Maximus is back in Vlads sorta good graces) and could be gone a few days. Days after Vlad left, Leila and her best friend Marty had gone on a walk with her.. but that walk was cut short when the sirens around the castle went off. They were under attack. Leila was ushered into the dungeons. They were the darkest parts of the castle so she was safest there. Or so they thought. As with other things he had done Shrapnel had laid bombs in the ground around the castles foundation. So as they were attacked from above with napalm of all things... the bombs go off and the castle in crashing from above and below. Leila was not going down without a fight. She manages to get the guards attention but they won’t let her out, so she busts herself out.
The house is all but destroyed. There are copters dropping napalm, guards fighting to stay alive and take them down.. but in reality they are f*cked because only she is able to fight fire with fire. It was no coincidence that they attacked when Vlad wasn’t there. No way they could destroy his home with him in it. But as soon as the copter’s pilot sees the fire’s not hurting her he fills her with silver bullets. Fun times, right? Yeah no. As she passes in and out she sees Maximus and then there is Szilagyl. Dude’s like a roach. You just want to squish him. Needless to say they leave their with her in tow.
When Leila wakes she is tied up and as naked as the day she was born. Then… the unthinkable happens. Szilagyl had one of his men, Harold, skin her. though in all fairness it was Maximus’ idea. At the time though Leila has decided he is as crazy as the rest. but the fact that its being video taped is.. well bad enough but she knows they are doing this to get to Vlad. Anything to make him lose his shit. Days later though, the skinning seems to be the worst of what could happen.. then there is more. This time its Maximus who is the punisher (or not) and again, its video taped. What Vlad sees on the tape when he receives it is.. his wife, who is still recovering from being tortured is being raped.. by his best friend. What he doesn’t see or hear for that matter is that Maximus never actually raped her. He just put on a good show. And thanks to her being skinned she can see his reaction as she slips into his essence trail.
Days later, feeling weaker than ever, half starved and trying to figure out how to connect to Vlad Leila is met again, face to face with Maximus. Another ‘conjugal’ visit. Though, he again has to ‘rape’ her he also manages to regurgitate a few pints of blood into her. (gags) But it is what she needs, since Szilagyl is determined to starve her. It takes her a few days to get her self together and figure out how to connect to Vlad when she is awake. She seems him a couple of times, talking with Mencheres, then going to visit Bones and Cat. He is calling in every favor they owe him in order for Cat to come and help him find Leila. When Cat finds out Leila was kidnapped, she weighs the options but she agrees to help. And finally, Leila is able to connect with Vlad… and he actually hears her just before dawn hits and she passes out.
When Layla wakes she screams seeing a head in front of her, not just any head, a transparent one. The guard who comes to check on her just shakes it off and when Leila focus back on the head she sees the ghost, almost fully as he says “get ready” and then poofs. She then feels a power run through her. And goes into action getting herself out of her restraints. needing power she does the only thing she knows to. She runs for the light socket. But her hand goes through it. Frying her like she had been the day she touched that power line. her body however absorbed it, craving it, all but sending her into a feeding frenzy of sorts. When she escapes her room in the mass amount of chaos around her she sees Harold. Her torturer… and does better than skin him. She jolts him with so much juice that he explodes.. I say its fair.
Vlad sweeps her up and gets her out. Cat following close behind. its then that Leila sees the remnants… that is why he needed Cat. Her grave power. (laughs) After a few hours of flying via, ‘air Vlad’ Leila and Vlad make it to his plane. And then they are off. After taking Cat back to Germany Leila, feeling run down and guilty. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Vlad but he simply holds her hand and lets her pass out with dawn. When she wakes again she is in a very elegant, room. looking around she is amazed by the decor and the beauty of the place. She hears faint voices and calls out o Vlad. When she follows his voice she sees he is in a sitting area with Mencheres, Kira… and her sister. Also Marty. With a strong embrace from them both she relaxes a tiny bit. Her family is safe. The fact that Gretchen is yammering on about anything and everything Leila realizes she doesn't know what happened to her. No one told her. And for good reason I guess.
When Leila asks about her father gretchen says he’s next door. Hugh is in the next villa being his usual asinine self. Feeling the hurt and sadness coming off of Leila Vlad’s cool demeanor cracks and he storms off to the next villa. Not only does he make him watch part of the skinning video he lays into him. Which he deserved. When Vlad comes back its time for them to talk… and let out a few things. They both need to decompress from what has happened and try to move on. Vlad neither blames or shames her for the way she reacted to anything that was done to her while Szilagyl had his men torture her. When Vlad asks Leila to search for Szilagyl so they can track him down… um something goes wrong. Once again, leila tries to kill herself and has no idea why. Szilagyl has himself spelled like Cynthiana had done before. So now its ‘Leila suicide watch’ time again.
Mencheres has a remedy.. or so they think. Problem is once he makes his potion… it backfires. Instead of making the spell they put on her disappear it turns her blue… (and, yes I had a flashback to the girl in Charlie and the Chocolate factory and laughed my ass off…) But it makes them learn that not only has he spelled her, Szilagyl has had a necromancer spell her. Ya know since she is dead and all. So they are having to redouble their efforts to keep her from hurting or god forbid killing herself until they can get this necromancer and Szilagyl. If they can track them down and kill the necromancer the spell should break. The next big event for them was… they got married, by vampire law, and joined, again as man and wife. Then consummate that marriage. (waggles brows) When Leila wakes again she is in yet another new room. (Poor girl never knows where she will wake up) Vlad tells her to get ready to go out. they have an appointment. And its with Vlad’s ‘friend’ Marie Laveau. The ghoul queen and Vlad talk… and its all about Leila. How sweet. But Vlad has a plan. He needs to know if Marie is the necromancer that helped put the spell on Leila. If she was Vlad would try to kill her. But its not Marie, she swears by her blood to that fact as well.
With Marie’s help they find out who could be the possible necromancers doing this. And they set off to get a new plan of action into plan. but first Vlad needs to do some recruiting. Hospice, Homeless and even the State Penn.. no place is off limits when building an army. When Leila once again wakes up in new surroundings she quickly figures out she is on Vlad’s plane. But before they get to where they are going.. all hell breaks loose on the plane. Its nose diving and they have to get out now. Vlad grabs Leila, Gretchen and Hugh before he jumps. One of his guards, who can also fly, grabs a guard and two of the humans he recruited. They hit the ground and the plane goes boom. Its not a good night to say the least.
Leila has to use her gift to shock her fathers heart back to life. I guess the fear and stress of a plane going down with his already fragile state was too much for him. With not so gentle prodding from Vlad Hugh drinks some o f his blood to heal him and Vlad, since he is already in a mood, he crushed Hugh’s bad knee and heals it. No time to be a pussy, this is war and every soldier needs to be on hand. So to speak. when Layla wakes again.. (I swear she is never in the same place twice) she is in a bunker of sorts. A vampire jail cell even and trusted up… when she questions it she is told Vlad needed sleep and this was a ‘just in case’ plan of action. Gretchen is there to talk to her though. And when Gretchen asked if Leila had sent her a text about a Dracula article it only takes her a moment to figure out its a message from Maximus. Who else would behind it? No one.
So after looking it up on line Vlad recalled that the story (as all others are) are not right… then with that in hand he knew where Szilagyl was. Vlad, Leila and two guards (vampires of course) went to the island (aka tourist trap) in Turkey where Vlad knew Szilagyl was. The place he would last look for him… the place of so many bad memories for Vlad. Where he was tortured and raped as a young child for years… all this time he has been right there, hiding but no more. Now he goes down.. or they do. but only one side will be walking away.
And, yes that is all I am saying. (laughs) evil i know but there is so much that happens you wouldn’t believe it unless ya see it yourself. Trust me it’s worth it.