The Bleeding Dusk

Colleen Gleason
2008, Paranormal Historical (Early 1800s Italy)
Signet Eclipse, $7.99, 353 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451223268
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Warm

Buffy sure did start something, didnít she? I have read many new paranormal series staring feisty, powerful heroines and their boys. While Iíve been disappointed more often than not, there have been some diamonds in the rough. Gleasonís Gardella Vampire Chronicles is just such a diamond. I am quickly becoming addicted to the series and canít wait for my next fix. In fact, after finishing The Bleeding Dusk (the third book in this exciting series), I tossed and turned most of the night, agonizing over what will happen next.

Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy, Marchioness of Rockley, could be spending every night at balls, the theater, and other social engagements, but instead she roams the dangerous streets of Rome, fighting the undead. A beautiful young widow, she is the only living direct descendant of the first vampire hunter, which makes her Illa Gardella, the head of the Gardella. She is also the only female Venator (vampire hunter), although there are about a hundred of her male counterparts spread throughout the world. To become a Venator, one must either be a Gardella relation (although the abilities only crop up every now and then on the family tree) or be able to pass some life-threatening tests. After several hard lessons, Victoria is slowly learning exactly what it will take to be the head Venator and has devoted her entire being to destroying the evil spreading over the world.

This time, the undead are interested in opening a long-locked alchemistís laboratory to get some goodies inside. Also, a demon has come to town and is divesting animals and people of their heads. Victoria takes all this on, but any successful slayer needs a team and Victoria has the Consilium. This is both a physical location and a group of people dedicated to the destruction of the undead. It consists of Venators, Comitators (their martial-arts trainers), alchemists, healers, weapon specialists, and the necessary researchers.

Despite being surrounded by all these people who are likewise devoting their lives to the cause, Victoria feels the loneliness of her calling. Whenever a mysterious, rather untrustworthy, extremely handsome and charming man named Sebastian is around, she turns to him for comfort and relief from the solitude, but he is never about for long. Another sexy, brooding guy in her life is Max, a fellow Venator, whom she greatly respects, understands, and trusts (and who, happily, appears more often in this book). Bit by bit, the mysterious pasts of these two men are unfolding and the little revelations are both surprising and exciting. Like a fellow reviewer, Iím not sure which guy Iím rooting for yet. Both have their appeal and, while I might have a favorite, Iím having a lot of fun watching Victoria figure it all out. Although, I must say that I donít want her to pick both, unless itís one relationship at a time.

There is a darker tone to this installment, which is saying something since there has been a lot of heartache so far. But the heartbreaks keep piling up and Victoria is very aware of her losses and sacrifices. More than once, she finds herself overwrought and overemotional, which doesnít gel with her calling. Her turbulent emotions cause her to make several crucial mistakes that she will hopefully learn from in the next book. I have to say ďin the next book,Ē because the ending didnít give as much closure as one would hope. All the books have left enticements to continue, but the other two have ended on a more resolved note than this one, which has a whirlwind ending that leaves the reader with many questions about just what happened to our heroine.

The Bleeding Dusk is a sexy, exhilarating page-turner with an intelligent, capable heroine. The writing engaged me - the plot thrilled me. Iím now fully invested in what happens to the main characters, who are wonderfully fleshed-out and believable. Even when I didnít entirely agree with the decisions made by the characters, I totally understood what was behind them. While I'm not as thoroughly satisfied with this installment as the previous one, this has so far been an engrossing series that I will return to often. Actually, Iíve enjoyed it so much that Iím both excited for and anxious about whatís to come, for this could easily become one of my favorite series.

-- Andi Davis

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