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When Darkness Comes    by Alexandra Ivy order for
When Darkness Comes
by Alexandra Ivy
Order:  USA  Can
Zebra, 2006 (2006)
*   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

When Abby Barlow destroys one of her employer's priceless vases, she begins to think she'd have been better off not getting out of bed that morning. By the time the day's through, she's convinced of it.

Hiding the evidence of her crime should be easy enough in a house filled with expensive artifacts, but her employer's houseguest, the infuriatingly arrogant Dante, walks in on Abby and catches her in the act. As she struggles to keep him from learning the truth, things go from bad to worse when an explosion shakes up the mansion. Abby is frantic to ensure her employer, Selena, isn't injured, but Dante reaches the woman's side first. Abby is helpless to do anything but stand by as Selena breathes her last.

Unfortunately for Abby, she quickly learns that the explosion is the least of her worries. Selena was an immortal being known as The Phoenix, a woman whose special powers kept the Prince of Darkness at bay. And since someone (or something) managed to accomplish the impossible and kill Selena, the woman's supernatural powers have been transferred to Abby. For the past 341 years, it's been Dante's duty to protect The Phoenix. He's failed once ... and he doesn't intend to make that mistake again.

As the first book in a new trilogy, When Darkness Comes introduces the major players and the conflict that will span three books. While the novel starts out with an intriguing premise, it quickly degenerates into a long series of vampire clichés. The dialogue is surprisingly dull, and fluctuates between today's slang and historical vocabulary at a confusing rate, even when the thoroughly-modern heroine is speaking.

The characters themselves are difficult to relate to. Abby is described as an independent modern woman, but she acts much too needy and helpless. Dante is supposed to be a tortured hero, but we don't get to see much of that. Instead, the author focuses on the relationship between Abby and Dante that develops at breakneck speed, leaving me to wonder whether I'd missed a step (and about a hundred pages) in the courtship process.

Too many unexplained factors as well as a multitude of secondary characters and supernatural beings make this book extremely difficult to follow. Die-hard fans of the vampire genre may find When Darkness Comes enjoyable, but readers looking for an emotionally engaging, thought-provoking paranormal romance will be disappointed.

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