Cardinal Desires

Image of Cardinal Desires
Author(s): 
Release Date: 
December 17, 2013
Publisher/Imprint: 
Double Dragon eBooks
Pages: 
293
Reviewed by: 

“ . . . elegant description, sharp wit, as well as a love story sweeping from the past into the present.”

A killer is stalking London, and more than the police are on his trail. He’s called the Vampire Slayer because he leaves corpses marked as if they’re vampires . . . decapitated, with stakes driven through their hearts.

What the police don’t know is that this same killer is also targeting real vampires, who don’t plan to sit around and wait for the authorities to act.

Back in England nursing his rejection by his beloved Isabeau, as recounted in Sinners’ Opera, Morgan, D’Arcy, vampiric pianist and nobleman, attempts to prevent any more of his brethren from dying.

His comrades-in-arms are Lucien St. Albans, the most powerful vampire in the world, and Sterling Fox from across the Pond, Russian by birth, Canadian by choice, an investigative reporter going where few dare to tread in search of stories. Now Sterling has one practically dropped in his lap.

“Sterling didn't want or need to get involved in Vampyre politics, but Morgan was his friend—Lucien his enemy—a poker hand he couldn’t resist, whether he won or lost.”

They have to stop the Slayer before they themselves are discovered.

“This psycho mocks us with vampire-like murders, puts our name in bold print in the headlines.”

“A dual of wits,” Morgan said.

Sterling flopped on the bed, crossing his arms behind his head. “A call to arms.”

Katherine McCaully is a forensic psychiatrist working with Scotland Yard. Morgan believes her expertise can help them but in doing so, he, Lucien, and Sterling must reveal their own natures to gain her trust.

“‘Do you believe a vampire is stalking London?’

Katy had met many psychological vampires.No other kind existed.”

Katy will soon have her beliefs shattered beyond recognition. When she and Sterling meet through Morgan’s machinations, she’s intrigued.

“I’ve wondered what kind of man would disappear into a Colombian cartel to profile the inner workings of a drug lord. You’re nothing like I pictured.”

Actually, he’s exactly as she pictured, from a painting of a battle fought four hundred years before on a frozen Russian lake. Katy fell in love with the man in the painting, and doesn’t realize he’s now standing before her in centuries-old living flesh.

“She didn’t believe in coincidence or fate, but a shiver rippled over her. On the canvas, medieval knights, armed with mace and sword, mounted on massive horses battled on a frozen lake. The breathing replica of her warrior invaded her comfort zone.”

Sterling is captivated by a woman he sees as the image of the only one he’s ever loved, lost shortly after that long-ago battle, and once again in the twentieth century.

“Magda, Jessica, Katy—the only women in countless years to capture his heart—each of them different, but . . . Dear God, could there be a soul connection from a Russian princess to a Miami socialite and then to a forensic psychiatrist?”

Katy falls in love with Sterling.He hesitates, torn between what Morgan wishes him to do and what his heart tells him—and that involves telling Katy exactly what he is.

“A mere conflict of interest will pale in the light of the truth. I am a vampire. I believe the Slayer is also a vampire. We’re trying to apprehend him because he is endangering us. In fact, he has killed several of my kind. In order to do so, he must be one of us.”

Whether Katy believes him or not, she decides to help, though it may bring about all their deaths if they don’t succeed. Fighting the endless cycle of reincarnation as well as the Slayer’s present threat, Sterling’s confirmation of his love will be one of the few things keeping them going.

“I’m not a monster . . . my only regret in dying was losing you.”

As with Ms. Nightingale’s previous novel, these vampires are bloodthirsty and dangerous but also honorable in their own way. They wish to continue existing and if it means divulging their secret lives to the one person who’ll help, they’ll do it . . . though they won’t guarantee what happens to that person after the killer’s caught. There are some definitely bloody battles fought, all in the dead of night, out of sight of human eyes.

A few references to the previous novel keep everything in perspective. The discovery of the killer’s identity not only confirms what the hunters suspect but also forces one of them to make a desperate choice.

In this dark portrayal of contemporary London scenery and society, there’s elegant description and sharp wit, as well as a love story sweeping from the past into the present, of a monster who fights not to be and the woman who accepts him however he is. All combine to make this a welcome second entry in this series.