"As Shadows Fade," the fifth and final installment of the Gardella series featuring Victoria and Max is a fitting end to a great paranormal series.
The action opens about two weeks after the end of "When Twilight Burns". Victoria is finally clear about whom she loves and wants in her life. Unfortunately for her, she isn't sure she can persuade him to follow his heart and commit to a relationship with her. There is also the complication of a past lover who still wants her and isn't accepting her decision with grace. In addition to all that emotional angst, a new and powerful threat has emerged that threatens both humans and vampires.
Colleen Gleason has always managed to draw readers into this world of the Regency era vampire slayer and her numerous beaus with ease. Victoria isn't perfect as a character; in fact she has always made mistakes along the way. The beauty of this series is that there is a natural progression from "know it all" debutante to mature, strong woman in charge of herself and the other Venators.
***************SPOILER ALERT! (as suggested by another reader)******************
I could write a book about why I love Max, the smart, sexy, honorable and intense hero that would melt any girl's heart. I have always preferred the enigmatic Max to any other suitor. In fact, he was the only character that I consistently loved throughout the series. Initially, I wanted Victoria to end up with Max, because Max wanted Victoria, not necessarily because she was "worthy" of him. Boy was I wrong. Victoria is a perfect match for him. She understands, respects and loves the kind of man that he is, just as he respects and loves her.
And when the two lovers finally get together, it was worth the wait. The supposedly cold and clinical Max is anything but. That man couldn't walk in the frozen food section of the supermarket, because everything would melt.
Sebastian is there as well to stir up trouble and ultimately find his own destiny. I was surprised at the twists and turns involving his character, but it oddly worked. Don't worry, Team Sebastian. We will probably be seeing him again.
Although everything about this book was perfect, it is still bittersweet to know I won't be visiting these characters in new adventures again. However, I must commend Ms. Gleason for ending this series before it became too long.
As a long time lover of paranormal fiction, I have noticed that a few other paranormal series have be plowed to death just for the money. Highly anticipated novels become filler books, characters do not evolve and readers lose interest because we can tell when the writer's creativity has dried up and the money making machine has kicked in. That isn't the case here.
This book was filled with twists and turns that surprised and delighted me. I had a smile on my face long after I finished it. I recommend it wholeheartedly. I would suggest that if you are just beginning to read this series, start at the beginning. It makes the payoff that much sweeter.