GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Book Review: Black Sunshine: A Dark Vampire Romance by Karina Halle + excerpt | I Smell Sheep

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Book Review: Black Sunshine: A Dark Vampire Romance by Karina Halle + excerpt

Black Sunshine: A Dark Vampire Romance
by Karina Halle
March 23, 2021
448 pages
All Lenore Warwick wants for her 21st birthday is to hang out with her friends, finish her second year at Berkeley with flying colors, and maybe catch the eye of a hot musician playing a show at a club that she can now (legally) get into.

Unfortunately, fate has other plans for her.

A week before her birthday, she’s kidnapped by the brooding and dangerous stranger with cold eyes and a lethal touch, who has been stalking her on San Francisco’s fog-shrouded streets. Absolon "Solon" Stavig isn’t your average criminal though. He’s a centuries-old vampire who’s caught between wanting to kill Lenore and wanting to save her.

You see Lenore, too, is a vampire.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

Taken by a pair of vampire slayers when she was just an infant, Lenore was raised never knowing her true nature. All Lenore knows is that she has (normal) parents who love her, that she’s exceptionally smart, and she’s squeamish around blood. But once she turns twenty-one, she’ll fully turn into a vampire, and Solon hopes he’ll be there to guide her, opening her eyes to her deepest hunger...both sexual and otherwise.

But this turning can’t be kept a secret. Soon both slayers and vampires are hunting Lenore, with only Solon and his unpredictable motley crew of vampires to save her.

If they don’t kill her first.

Black Sunshine is a dark adult standalone romance with a paranormal twist, about sex, love, secrets, and revenge, set in contemporary San Francisco.

Karina Halle’s Experiment in Terror series, as well as its spinoff Ada Palomino, are among my all-time faves. When I read her pending release was a vampire dark romance, I was immediately sold. I’m still a total sucker for vampires. Halle can craft contemporary romance like none other, and her paranormal series are tremendously imaginative. When I got my hands on the ARC for Black Sunshine, I pretty much devoured it.

Black Sunshine is, without a doubt, an entertaining read. The premise is creative and compelling. The romance arc includes a few non-conventional twists and turns I truly appreciated. The book is self-aware and uses, disabuses, and transforms many of the established vampire tropes. Absolon, our broody vampire, is everything we love about an anti-hero. Several well-developed characters, such as Wolf, nicely round out the story.

I struggled slightly at the start of this novel. Full disclosure, for most of the book I didn’t love Lenore. I understand the necessity for her to be young, however, at times her voice is so immature it borders on silly. On several occasions, I found her actions and reactions completely out of line for the situation. But by the end of the story, we see significant growth for Lenore as well as formidable ferocity. Typically I’ve always admired Halle’s ability to craft natural, immersive dialogue, however, this wasn’t quite the case. This doesn’t quite come through until the latter portion of the book. When the characters begin to gel and the story takes shape, Halle hits the mark.

Black Sunshine is marketed as a standalone. It becomes clear, however, Lenore and Absolon’s story has taken root. There’s clear potential for a series or at least a sequel. While the closure of a standalone is present, there are hints of something more to come. I’m excited by the prospect. I’m interested to see how this world and these characters develop.

Four Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

The door opens and Absolon strides inside, dressed in a sharp black suit, black dress shirt, collar open. For some reason I thought he would be in a tux, but of course he looks impeccable in this. Stealthy and deadly, like a walking weapon. Gorgeous beyond words.

I instinctively inhale, my heart thudding.

He stops in his tracks and looks at me for a moment, his eyes flicking over every inch of skin, leaving sparks of electricity in their wake. His gaze is intense, smoldering, something that makes me feel restless and unsettled.

He quickly breaks the spell, closing the door behind him, and it's only then that I notice he has a jewelry box in his hands.

"What is that, a corsage?" I comment.

He stops right in front of me, his smell washing over me, and holds out the box, the dark blue velvet shining. "Funny," he says dryly. "Take a look for yourself."

Curiosity gets the best of me and I reach out and flip open the lid.

Inside are a pair of drop earrings and a matching necklace on a delicate chain. Blood red rubies sit amongst burnished silver. The beauty of the stones takes my breath away. For a moment, it feels like I'm being wooed by some wealthy gentleman, instead of what this all really is.

"I thought vampires couldn't wear silver," I say after a moment, not wanting to fawn over them.

"Don't believe everything you read," he says. 

Then he hands me the box, leaving the earrings to me while he takes out the necklace.
"Burma rubies," he says in a low voice that makes me shiver as he comes behind me. With his presence at my back, my neck exposed, I'm on high alert. "Very, very rare. Pigeon blood is the color."

"That's disturbing."

"I'd say macabre. And beautiful. Now you realize how some things in this world can be both."

I swallow as he gently places the necklace around my neck, the ruby sitting below my collarbone. There's a feeling of warmth from the back of the jewel, like it's connecting to my skin and fusing with it. I have to wonder at the magic of stones and where he got this, if it means anything, if it's doing anything.
His hands go to the back of my neck, and I feel his unblinking eyes burn into me, more of those sparks alighting my skin, alternating between flames and ice. He fastens the necklace and I hear a low sigh from his mouth, as if there's some sort of relief.

Then he runs his palms over my shoulders, smooth skin skimming over mine, until he grips my upper arms.

I hold my breath, feeling his face come closer, his nose brushing over the back of my head. He inhales sharply, a sensation that causes goosebumps to prickle down my entire body, his nose moving behind my ear.

He's smelling me.

I can hardly stay still, but his grip is strong, and my pulse is going wild, and I'm not sure if I want to flee, or fight...or f*ck.

"So much fear," he breathes into my neck, and my eyes roll back into my head. "Alongside so much desire."

"You're compelling me," I say, but the tremor in my voice betrays me.

He slowly breathes out, causing my knees to buckle.

"I'm not," he murmurs. "This is just you, reacting to me." His mouth brushes against the back of my ear, unravelling me further. "This is how it will always be."

About the Author:

Karina Halle is a screenwriter, a former music & travel journalist, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of The Pact, A Nordic King, and Sins & Needles, as well as sixty other wild and romantic reads.

She, her musician husband, and their adopted pit bull, Bruce, live in a rainforest on an island off the coast of British Columbia, where they operate Raven Ridge, a B&B that's perfect for writers' retreats and romantic getaways.

In the winter, you can often find them in California or on their beloved island of Kauai, soaking up as much sun (and getting as much inspiration) as possible. For more information, visit