Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 320 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: June 19, 2012
Series: Penton Legacy #1
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed by: Jenn
For vampire Aidan Murphy, life has never been so desperate. The vaccine used to treat a global pandemic has rendered human blood deadly to his kind, leaving them on the brink of starvation and civil war. In tiny Penton, Alabama, Aidan establishes a peaceful community of vampires and unvaccinated human donors. He dares to hope they can survive — until his estranged brother descends upon Penton and begins killing the humans. Determined to save his town, Aidan kidnaps an unsuspecting human doctor…and finds himself falling in love for the first time in nearly four centuries.
Dr. Krystal Harris thought she was coming to Penton for a job interview, but Aidan Murphy has other plans. Infuriated by his high-handed scheme to imprison her in the small town, Krys can’t ignore the attraction between them. But is it love? Or does her dangerous, charismatic captor want only to bend her to his will?
Susannah Sandlin is a pen name for Suzanne Johnson, which had me all kinds of excited because I loved her urban fantasy debut, ROYAL STREET. In REDEMPTION, she offers readers something a little different, as she shifts gears to paranormal romance with a focus on vampires, which keeps all of the positives of her other writing while upping the sexy.
First and foremost, I love the setting of REDEMPTION. Vampires are still underground and their very existence is threatened by a vaccination that caused minute changes in people who received it, making their blood poisonous to vampires. Aidan Murphy has started a small colony in Penton, Alabama, where vampires and unvaccinated humans live in harmony, a completely new idea in this world. The humans are all bonded to vampires, who are all bonded to Aidan, and everyone is carefully screened, creating a very Eden-like atmosphere, except for the dangers from the outside. This sort of post-apocalyptic setting (even though it's not an apocalypse for the human population) reminds me a lot of the town in I Am Legend (the movie) or the Epitaph episodes of Dollhouse (or any number of doomed-society-looking-for-a-haven movies/shows/ books), which I always enjoy. Of course, not everyone supports this endeavour, and some fear Aidan because of his revolutionary ideas and the number of vampires in his scathe, which is what brings Aidan's brother Owen into the picture, as he menaces residents trying to undo Aidan's work. As part of his attack, he's killed the town's doctor, which is why Krystal Harris enters the picture.
Of the two main characters, Krys is definitely my favourite. She's got such a dynamic personality! She comes from an abusive family but that wasn't the main focus of her character, which was refreshing. Instead, she finds humour where others might not, is excellent at her job, and actually considers the idea of Stockholm Syndrome when she starts falling for Aidan, which was great because it's something I wonder about -- after all, how many heroines start falling for their captors without questioning it? In contrast, I wasn't all that into Aidan, though he did grow on me over the course of the novel as we learned more about his motivations and back story. Despite being quite old, he's still rather human. He fidgets, he's fallible, and he broods. In fact, the same can be said for a lot of the vampires in this book -- many of them retain a lot of human characteristics and aren't the sort of super still, inhuman vampires you see in other stories. (There are a couple like that but all of the main folks are much more relatable.) My favourite characters in the novel are probably Hannah, one of the members of Aidan's scathe, and Melissa, Aidan's human familiar.
The writing in REDEMPTION is also top-notch. The action is well choreographed and each of the main characters has a very clear voice when the story's being told from their point of view. There's also some nice humour in the story, like the quotation below, which really made me chuckle. I love a bit of dry wit. =)
He [Aidan] took a quick shower and dressed in a pair of black wool pants and a pale blue cashmere sweater he’d never have picked for himself―he didn’t much care what he wore, so he let Melissa shop for him. He wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by calling him a “vampire Ken doll,” but it had to be bad because it amused her so much.
REDEMPTION is the first book in the Penton Legacy series and I'm excited to see what happens for the other characters in this world. The author has done a marvellous job of setting up the series arc and creating characters you'll root for and I can't wait to see what will happen next to/for Penton's residents. REDEMPTION is a wonderful paranormal romance that is sure to delight fans of the genre.