This volume, part of the "Wings in the Night" series, contains two short novellas by Maggie Shayne and Marilyn Tracy. I found Shayne's entry to be unremarkable, while Tracy's was more compelling.
Shayne's "Twilight Vows" is a traditional vampire romance. Donovan O'Roark has been a vampire since 1820, when his vampire guardian, Dante, ended his mortal life in order to save him from a fatal illness. Donovan was immediately ostracized by his Irish family, friends, and fiancée. Since then he has lived a solitary, lonely life. Even Dante is gone, killed by the townspeople when he dared to love a mortal woman.
It's now present day Ireland. Enter Rachel Sullivan, young and spirited, who has returned to Dunkinny, Ireland, after several years in the States. When Donovan appears, she is the only person who doesn't fear him. In fact, she pursues him, hoping to discuss his plans to take up residence in Castle Dante. Rachel is writing a thesis on the legend of Donovan O'Roark and wants to interview this "namesake" of the notorious vampire. She has no idea that she is face-to-face with the one and only Donovan, but when she
follows him one too many times, she learns the truth.
"Twilight Vows" was too sketchy to be rewarding. I surmise that this is only one of many Maggie Shayne vampire novels, most written for the defunct Silhouette Shadows line. But because I had not read any previous books in the series, I was in the dark about several important details. For example, how did Donovan, who sleeps all day, amass enough of a fortune to buy a castle and renovate it? If he doesn't bite people's necks anymore, what does he live on? And what's the deal with the belladonna antigen that is
referenced once as the necessary ingredient to become a successful vampire? Even as part of a series, each novel should be able to stand alone, and this one didn't. The plot resolution was unsurprising, and the whole thing left me cold. I'd give "Twilight Vows" 2 hearts.
On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised by Marilyn Tracy's effort, "Married by Dawn," and found it to be much more intense. Gavin Deveroux has been ordered by his fellow vampires to find and kill Tara Michaels, who has threatened to expose the secrets of the vampire Council. Tara has lured Gavin to her sister's memorial service, planning to kill him in revenge for murdering her only sister. But when the two meet, strong sparks fly and the two quickly find themselves married, for all of the wrong reasons.
The enemies-turned-lovers plot is an oldie but goody, and it works nicely here within the vampire context. Despite their stated enmity, Gavin and Tara realize quickly that they must find a way to cast aside their vengeful plans and find a way to be together. There is very steamy chemistry between the two, and a love scene that spans several chapters. The entire book takes place in one night, but it doesn't feel artificial that these two characters could fall in love at first sight and then sacrifice everything to be together. I read the entire novella in one breathless sitting. Wow. I'd give this one 4 hearts, surprising for a person who is not a major fan of vampire romances.
Marilyn Tracy is not as renowned for her efforts in the vampire genre as Maggie Shayne, but I'd say in this case she far outshines the more popular author. If you are familiar with Shayne's previous vampire novels, you probably will want to read "Twilight Vows," but if you are a novice like myself you might find that Tracy's "Married by Dawn" is more satisfying.