|Unleash the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon is a tasty little dessert of a book. It’s light and delicious, but don’t expect a lot of substance.
The heroine is Maggie Goudeau, the pampered daughter of a senator. Maggie’s good friend Nick has recently disappeared after the murder of his mother, and Maggie is devastated. The book begins with Maggie and her study group from college visiting a favorite bar of Nick’s, Sanctuary, as sort of a tribute to him. Sanctuary is a limani, the equivalent of a demilitarized zone where Arcadians (humans who can turn into animals) and Kantagaria (animals who can turn into humans) can meet in peace instead of constantly trying to destroy one another, as is their habit. Human visitors are not exactly welcome.
The group almost immediately encounters the hero, Wren Tigarian, a hybrid Kantagaria of mixed tiger/leopard descent. A violent exchange almost occurs when a bigoted, hateful member of the study group decides to pick on Wren, whom he sees only as a dirty busboy. When the crisis is averted the group leaves, except for Maggie who stays behind to apologize. When Maggie tries to find a taxi to take home, she is attacked and nearly robbed and raped before Wren is able to rescue her.
Wren’s life changes rapidly once he sees Maggie home safely and begins a relationship with her. The owner of the bar uses Wren and Maggie’s relationship as proof that he has become unmanageable and she and Wren’s cousin vote in council to have Wren eliminated. The owner of Sanctuary wants Wren gone because she fears he’ll hurt her family as he supposedly hurt his own, and the cousin wants Wren’s unimaginable wealth, which he’ll inherit after Wren dies. Maggie is not safe from Wren’s death sentence, because the hunters will use her to get to Wren, so the pair takes off together with the help of others like Wren. Before they can be safe, Maggie and Wren have to prove that Wren is innocent of the charge that he murdered his own mother and father.
Unleash the Night is good in so many ways. The characters and the plot are interesting, and the pace moves very quickly. The author’s writing style is fluid and lean, and the book can be devoured in one sitting. A lot of characters from the previous “Dark Hunter” novels in this series are introduced in this book, but enough information is given about their background to give them some flesh, and their presence is necessary to the story. The love scenes are luscious.
On the other hand, the book moves a little too quickly if you’re the type of reader who likes to delve into the character’s emotions. The writing is so spare that much opportunity for drama is missed. For instance, A HUGE event occurs that will change the course of Maggie’s life forever, and the incident is treated far too lightly. Also, the reader is not given much upon which to base Maggie’s attraction to Wren. She’s a wealthy, albeit reluctant, socialite and Wren is a dread-locked anti-social busboy when the book begins, yet she instantly sees beneath the dreads and dirty apron to the hottie underneath.
On a more personal note, descriptions of Wren made me think he is of smaller stature than your regulation hero. I don’t find small heroes as attractive as larger specimens, so all during the fight scenes and love scenes I couldn’t get the image of this little guy out of my head.
Ms. Kenyon has done an excellent job of building the world of Dark Hunters, and Unleash the Night>/B> does well as a stand alone for new readers. If you read the book with an open mind and refrain from searching for depth, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.