by Lynn Viehl (S.L. Viehl)
Book 2 of the Darkyn series
Lynn Viehl has created another excellent dark fantasy novel in her Darkyn series. However, as a romance, once again, it does very poorly, for reasons I'll mention in a moment.
Jema Shaw works at her father's museum doing, and also consults with the police department. She's exposed to a murder of a man and, at the same time, to Thierry Durand, a Darkyn seeking members of the evil Brethren to atone for wrongs he's done. Thierry is somewhat mad, after being betrayed by his wife of a few hundred years, and being tortured by the Brethren. However, he becomes obsessed with Jema and begins entering her dreams. Jema, on the other hand, is sickly and slowly dying of diabetes and living at home with her hypochondriac, scheming mother.
Viehl has done an excellent job layering her plot in Private Demon. It follows a story arc from the first book, If Angels Burn, and will surely continue to the next book, due out in June 2006. I found myself totally fascinated by the mystery and the characters -- particularly the secondary characters like Jamys, Thierry's son, Valentin Jaus, and John Keller. Probably more so than the main characters. However, Viehl gives equal time to each piece of the story and all the characters, so the book feels less about Thierry and Jema, and more about the Darkyn and Alexandra's brother, John. There are some interesting issues of race brought into this book, and a lot of emotional intensity formed from the love triangle.
Viehl cannot do romance, however. While she does excellent dark fantasy, her idea of romance is creepy and scary. IMO, Jema ended up with the wrong guy. I don't understand how stalker dude (SCARY, murdering stalker dude, at that) can end up being her main love interest. We leave poor deeply caring Jaus out in the cold. He, IMO, would have made a much better love interest, and maybe he'll have his own book. But I didn't buy into the romance (what little there was) between Jema and Thierry. I never bought that Thierry's madness went away.
Again, I'd recommend this book and series to those who enjoy urban fantasy or dark fantasy. But if you're reading for a romance, go look up J.R. Ward or Sherrilyn Kenyon.