Title: Immortal Desires
Author: Shannon Leigh
Published in 2002 by DLSIJ Press
Elizabeth Debonaie is a barmaid in a tavern in 1900 Paris. She is petite and delicate looking but she is a woman full of confidence, the ability to stand on her own and demand proper treatment. She believes she can handle any situation and remain essentially feminine. But Elizabeth also carries a certain amount of healthy superstition about the night. She is sure that the darkness hides a different realm that holds unimaginable monsters and abominations that can’t be seen by mortals. Since her mothers death and her fathers increasing illness, Elizabeth has supported her small family in the tavern, deftly avoiding the pitfalls of some of the other barmaids. She learns to ignore the crude and profane customers and when she cannot, the owner removes them from his establishment. She knows that with her fathers failing health she well have to survive on her own anyway she can and vows to never resort to selling her body to survive.
One night two men come into the tavern and Elizabeth pegs them as trouble as soon as she see them. They sit in her section and soon show her she was right. After putting up with their crude suggestions and behavior, Elizabeth has them thrown out. Her walk home in the early morning hours becomes a nightmare as the two men remain behind waiting for her. She tries to run but is caught by them both then dragged to the Seine River to be loaded into a boat. Elizabeth knows that if they get her into the boat and out onto the river they would ravish her, cut her throat and dump her body into the cold water. She fights valiantly for her life and her virtue, managing to escape their clutches for a few minutes but is quickly recaptured. She is beaten until she begins to lose consciousness. She fears her life has reached its end but she is rescued by an unknown champion.
Adrien was a creature of the night and he reveled in his power and the hunt for prey. He is a master of illusion, able to blend into the darkness and become invisible to mortals. Cunning and masterful, he has known no other in his long existence who is as strong as he. He has resigned himself to a life of bitter solitude and loneliness. There is no one who can break though the walls of evil and darkness he has build around the last thread of humanity left in his body. No one who can breakthrough to the emotions and feelings that he has painstakingly suppressed for over a century. Not his mentor and not his protégée. He deeply misses having a companion since the loss of Mikel, his partner in terror. They had traveled from city to city hunting and killing for over 50 years after Adrien had given Mikel the gift of immortality and Adrien had come to love him as a brother but he was not the one to reach the depths of Adrien‘s lost soul.
He is puzzled one night when a young woman passes by him and the scent and sight of her inflames senses that he thought long dead. The surge of excitement and attraction is beyond anything he has felt since being reborn. He is filled with strange and unsettling feelings that he intends to explore as he plans to take her essence and fill the emptiness in his soul with her life force. Before he can, he feels an intruding presence and steps back to watch as two men attack his prey. As he watches, he is almost overcome with deadly anger. Adrien’s rage triggers the transformation into his beast. His temper is almost uncontrollable but he waits and finds himself reluctantly impressed with Elizabeth’s courage as she fights her way clear only to be recaptured. Adrien moves in and dispatches the two would be rapists and takes what he considers his. The bloodlust is upon him and he drains her leaving her crumpled in the street to be turned by Mikel his former protégée and enemy.
Shannon Leigh has created three very dynamic vampires in Immortal Desires. Elizabeth finds to her horror that not only has she been made into a creature of death and darkness, but her creator is the enemy of the one who first saved her then damned her. Mikel has taken what he knew Adrien wanted and gained complete control over Elizabeth’s actions by promising her to care for her father. She unknowingly becomes Mikel’s vessel of revenge against his former brother in death. Mikel knows that Adrien returned for Elizabeth and is searching Paris for her. He takes sadistic delight in bringing about the physical and sexual torture of Elizabeth as she learns her new way of life . A century will pass as Elizabeth escapes both men and they in turn search for her in an endless game of revenge, death and life after death.
Immortal Desires is a book full of action, romance, and deep conflict as all three main characters struggle with their immortality and vampiric natures. Not only does Shannon explore the carnal appetites of each character, she delves deep into the psyche of their craving for blood and their need for love. We come to understand with their interactions with humans that all three have a deep need for more than just their vampire existence. They each yearn for that connection to another person that brings back the mortal threads that still survive inside their souls. For a different twist on the usual vampire novel I recommend Immortal Desires. It has enough bloodlust, sensual interaction and the plot twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Immortal Desires is available now at DLSIJ Press in either e-book or paperback format.