Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Release date: April 1 2013
Source: e-ARC from publisher
In a word: more kick-ass Emma, fantastic pacing, interesting vampire lore, but ultimately disappointing character development
I wanted to love this book more than I did, especially since book one, Violet Midnight, was such a blast to read. Now don’t get me wrong: I did have fun reading the second installment of the Violet Night Trilogy, but a couple of choices the author made didn’t work for me, which I’ll get to. I’m puzzled by all the four- and five-star reviews Violet Dawn has received on Goodreads, and I almost feel like I read a different version of the story than everyone else. I was so disappointed in the reactions and choices of the characters, that I had a hard time getting past them and enjoying the story. Rush has so many creative ideas, and her vampire mythology really is one of my favorites, so it is reluctantly that I give this book only three and a half stars.
As book two opens, college students Emma and Jake, vampire Hunters who have special tattoos on their wrists and arms that glow whenever Vamps are near, are cozily settling into life as a couple. For the past four months, since the nail-biting ending of Violet Midnight, things have been quiet, and they’ve had time to get to know each other without their dangerous jobs interrupting them. But of course, this respite does not last long. Just as Jake is getting ready to take Emma to meet his parents for the first time, their tattoos begin glowing: Vamps are nearby and must be stopped. When they find the Vamps and manage to chase them off, they run into a guy named Max, who tells them he is also a college student. Emma and Jake do their best to shrug off the attack, telling Max the Vamps were probably muggers, and try to get him to go back to his dorm. But Max seems oddly fascinated with Emma and won’t take the hint.
Later when a gang of Vamps attack and badly injure Emma, Max just happens to be there to save her, and Jake and Emma realize that the events from Violet Midnight (which I won’t spoil for you in case you haven’t read it) are going to have consequences: a dangerous Vamp has come back for revenge, and he’s got some secret powers that might make him unstoppable. In the midst of trying to figure out what’s really up with Max as well as survive the new nest of Vamps, Jake and Emma have some relationship issues that need to be dealt with. Rush’s pace never slows until everything’s resolved and the many secrets that various characters are hiding are finally revealed.
Rush once again immerses the reader in her fantastically creative world. Emma and Jake, who are both vampire Hunters, have some cool abilities to help them in the fight against evil. Their Hunter tattoos glow whenever Vamps are near, which comes in very handy. They have some interesting physical traits as well: they never eat, never sleep, and their body temperature is always 74.7 degrees. But best of all, they have a magical ability to “call” their weapons to them whenever they’re needed, and then send them back home when they’re finished.
But this time around, the world-building wasn’t enough to sustain the story. My main issue with Violet Dawn was the character of Emma, whom I adored in the last book. She was strong, feisty and smart, but in this book she seems to have misplaced both her intelligence and her strength. She spends most of the book being attacked, bitten, punched and stabbed, and I didn’t feel the author gave us a believable explanation as to why she’s become such a victim.
Worse than that, though, Emma has become gullible and trusting, which doesn’t make sense since her life is all about killing vampires. As a Hunter she’s developed a keen instinct that keeps her alive in dangerous situations, but that instinct is on vacation in Violet Dawn. From the moment Max is introduced, I, as a reader, knew he was up to no good. He had the word “slimy” written in huge letters on his forehead. Even Jake sensed that Max was hiding something from the first moment they interacted, yet Emma blithely ignores the warning signs. She continues to defend his dubious behavior throughout most of the story, and when she finally admits that Max isn’t who he claims to be, both Jake and Emma decide that maybe their duty is to help Max choose to be good instead of evil. Maybe the author’s point of the story was to test Jake and Emma by making Max such a confusing character, but none of it worked for me.
I also didn’t care for the overt religious overtones in Violet Dawn. Rush used some of these elements in Violet Midnight, but they were more subtly done (if I’m remembering correctly). The characters talk quite a bit about “choosing Love” (and yes, that is “Love” with a capital L) in order to vanquish evil. Jake and Emma go to “the Church” (again, a capital C) where they meet Gabriel, an angel from book one. Gabriel helps Max choose the correct path, and all his horrible deeds earlier in the story are suddenly forgiven. Redemption might work this way in the real world, but in fiction, at least the fiction I enjoy, forgiveness needs to be earned. Rush never convinced me that Max was ever worthy of forgiveness, and I continued to hate his character all the way to the bitter end.
The story ends with a teaser of what’s to come in the next book, but also wraps things up nicely between Emma and Jake. I fervently hope that the Emma I fell in love with in Violet Midnight returns in book three. Rush has a great thing going on with her Violet Night series, she just needs to remember who her characters really are.