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The Darkest Heart    by Thea Divine order for
Darkest Heart
by Thea Divine
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2011 (2011)
* * *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Crowley

Senna Landseth makes her living conning people out of their money on the streets. However, when an opportunity arises to pass herself off as the distant relative of a wealthy family, Senna's gift for deception turns into a nightmare. Although her new home, Drom Manor, offers all the opulent comforts Senna had only dreamed of, something sinister lurks in the halls of the isolated manor house.

Senna arrived at Drom Manor ready to be thoroughly questioned by the Countess and her family. But the Countess is only interested in marrying Senna to her son, Charles. Although this seems like the perfect scenario for a con artist, something about Drom Manor just doesn't seem right to Senna. The Countess always wears the same black clothes, the house doesn't have any mirrors, and the Countess never eats more than a few bites of food. Senna also discovers several cryptic messages with the words 'I am watching you,' written by Nicolai, the Countess's son who perished in a fire years before.

Now known as Dominick Janou, Nicolai has secretly returned to Drom Manor to avenge the Countess's and his brother's terrible betrayal, only to find that the Countess has taken in an innocent girl who has no idea she is living with a bloodthirsty vampire. Dominick watches as the Countess works quickly to push a marriage between Charles and Senna in order to produce a much needed heir to carry on the family bloodline. However, Dominick has his own agenda. While the Countess wants Senna as a vessel for her bloodline, Dominick seeks to get his revenge by taking Senna first and destroying the Lazlarics' last hope for an heir. After Charles attempts to force himself on Senna before the wedding and Senna discovers the Countess's dark secret, Dominick erases her memory and whisks her away from Drom Manor to London.

Dominick places Senna in the home of Lady Augustine, an elderly socialite whose mind Dominick manipulates to make her believe Senna is her ward. Dominick believes Senna will be safe with Lady Augustine, but the arrival of the Countess and Charles in London and a series of gruesome murders make Dominick realize Senna is in more danger than ever. When the murders are identified as the work of a vampire, mortals and vampires prepare for war as the Countess and Charles battle Dominick for Senna and ancient enemies surface from the shadows.

Not since Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, have I found a vampire novel so addictive. Senna and Dominick's erotic blood dreams make for a steamy read. The Darkest Heart by Thea Divine has the perfect blend of erotic romance and the paranormal. The novel's gothic theme is reminiscent of Bram Stoker's Dracula, which was clearly an inspiration for this book. The Darkest Heart is a highly recommended novel for anyone who enjoys the paranormal, romance, or historical romance genres.

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