3 out of 4 stars
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Enoch was twenty-five when he was attacked and bitten by a large, vicious man. After being assailed again a few days later by the same person, Enoch killed him, and a demon passed from the man to Enoch. He has been a vampire since then, possessed by a creature who has provided him extraordinary strength, a certain amount of immortality, and the ability to morph into anything it had taken over previously. On the other hand, he now has to be nocturnal since sunlight is fatal, and the demon must feed on human blood. A compromise was made where Enoch can exist as a human and the demon will run free several nights of the month.
Enoch owns a plantation and a shipping business; all the black men and women who work there are free and are paid wages for their labor. However, this is kept secret because he uses his shipping business to rescue slaves from their owners and convey them north to their freedom.
One night while out, he encounters his neighbor Franklin and some of his friends capturing a black runaway named Demisha. Franklin thinks he is in love with his slave and has been having an affair with her. Being possessive and physically abusive, he has forced her to try to escape. Enoch slays several of the men, rescues Demisha, and takes her to his home. Franklin becomes enraged and bitter and, from that day forward, lives only for revenge.
Dark Bliss by Shay Mills is a slightly different take on the traditional vampire story—a vampire smuggling runaway slaves to freedom. The first chapter took place in 1921. After that, the tale goes back to 1853 and progresses in a linear fashion to explain how it arrived at the scene in 1921. The author’s prose is easy to understand. From the first page, I was immersed in the action and suspense, which continued through most of the book and compelled me to keep reading. This was my favorite aspect of the novel.
Several explicit sex scenes and some profanity are seen in the tale. I don’t mind sex in novels when it is utilized to show romance between characters and add to the story; however, I felt it was a bit overdone here and more vulgar than romantic. Even so, other people might appreciate this. Of course, children and readers who find it offensive should steer clear.
Some weaknesses need to be mentioned. More time should be spent on fleshing out the characters. The story was focused on the action and the sex in the book. Subsequently, I didn’t develop the connection with the characters that I could have. This is a short book of only 133 pages, and it didn’t take long to read. Consequently, there is room to build more of a backstory for the characters. For instance, I would like to know what caused Enoch to use his shipping business to aid slaves. Additionally, the dialogue felt a little formal and stilted at times. An example of this is when Franklin was admonishing Demisha after she ran away: “I am not the one who ran nor am I the one who shall not accept the comfort of a fine home.”
Furthermore, there were many grammatical and punctuation errors in the novel, and this was my least favorite aspect of the story. An example is, “Take a seat Lizzy. I mean you know ill will.” This should have been written, “Take a seat, Lizzy. I mean you no ill will.” A good professional editor could help with these errors as well as the issues above.
After considering everything listed above, the book achieves a rating of three out of four stars. It was too exciting and suspenseful for a rating of 2. One star was removed due to the errors and previously mentioned issues. I recommend it to readers who appreciate reading action-packed novels about vampires with spicy, explicit sex scenes.
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