I’d long anticipated reading Dark Wine at Death, Book 4 in the Hill Vampire series by Jenna Barwin. It sizzled way beyond my expectations. The fast paced, engaging story line picks up where Dark Wine at Dusk ended. Barwin is terrific at threading reminders of events and characters from the three previous books into this new story. She made it easy to recall details about the savage murderer loose on the Hill and become reengaged with the dangerous pursuit. And, it was very easy to remain enthralled by the love story central to the series.
In a sexy dance scene, main characters Cerissa and Henry heat the floor beneath their feet and at the core of their beings. From the get-go, I wanted these two unique people to cement their relationship. As Cerissa notes, “…she hoped with all her heart that what they had together would never end.” This is why the romance of vampires, with the promise of everlasting life, appeals to lovers. Don’t we all want everlasting love? But are Cerissa and Henry meant to be married or just enjoy an intense relationship? This is one issue at the heart of the story, and the nagging doubt each harbors carries through, provoking arguments, distrust, and conflict.
Before Cerissa and Henry’s dance passion cools, death visits the five founding vampires of the Hill, devastating the surviving community. Police Chef Tig Anderson and her capable crew immediately set out to identify and snare the mastermind behind the murders. Can they be successful before even more vampires are murdered? Who are his accomplices? Barwin sets up several potential suspects, confounding easy conclusions.
Barwin is a masterful writer. Her characters are the people you meet every day – well, minus the vampire aspect. They cover the spectrum of religious values and gender lifestyles. They embrace and refute ideas of supremacy, equality, ethics, villainy, genetic traits, personal choice, and mental disorders, making me think about the principles I hold sacrosanct. I was attracted to many of the characters – vampire, mortal, and Lux – because their very human qualities endeared them – even when they weren’t human.
Though the passion and sex are one bookend element, and chasing down the murderers is the other, it was a few scenes involving animals that made me laugh out loud. Let me just say – puma and vampire bats – so much fun to read these scenes. I reread the puma scenes. Why not double my fun?
The cover art is sumptuous with romance, beauty, and mystery, my favorite of four beautiful artworks in this series.
I truly loved the book. By the way, don’t cheat yourself. Read the first three books in the series before reading this one.
Cover image courtesy: Hidden Depths Publishing