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Dark Hunger, by Sara Reinke

Second in the Brethren series, Dark Hunger begins just a few days after the events narrated in Dark Thirst, and follows primarily Rene Morin, a half human, half vampire ex-cop, and Tessa Davenant, a full vampire who also happens to be about four months pregnant. Also present are Brandon, Tessa’s twin, and Lina Jones, his human cop-on-the-run lover who is also Rene’s ex-partner.

As I mentioned in my review of Dark Thirst, in this world the vampires are not the heroic rescuers of the innocent of so many recent paranormal romances. While our intrepid foursome is the good guys, the rest of them are indeed eeeeeeeeeeebol—particularly Tessa and Brandon’s grandfather.

A caveat: while the series is marketed by the publisher as paranormal romance, I would personally consider it more an urban fantasy series with very strong romance elements.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Deepest Hunger.
Tessa Noble is a vampire who will do anything to reach the safety of her brother in New Orleans-even if it means traveling with her nemesis, Rene Morin. A ruthless, brooding, yet startlingly sexy vampire, Rene seems to take pleasure in finding fault with Tessa’s every move. As they travel, Rene feeds along the way, while Tessa struggles to resist the impulse to nourish herself.
Feeds The Darkest Needs.
Once in the storm-ravaged city of his birth, Rene’s defenses begin to unravel, and Tessa is drawn to his more vulnerable side. Starving and spent with need, Tessa finally allows herself to feed off of Rene’s own body, deepening the sensual attraction they share. Yet neither can afford to succumb to this desire. For Tessa and Rene are being followed-and a single misstep will put them at the mercy of forces more dark and powerful than even they can fight. If they are caught, the ecstasy of their newfound love will be matched only by the agony of its loss.

Tessa, Rene, Brandon and Lina are all fleeing the Elders of the Brethren, if for different reasons. Brandon, the first to escape, is running for his life after defying his grandfather. Lina runs because she loves Brandon and because she killed his older brother, Caine, a deed which surely has earned a death sentence from the Brethren. Tessa is running from a life of abuse at her husband’s house, and to protect her unborn baby from the same fate.

Rene was in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time, plus he feels he owes his life to Lina, so he’s committed to help them run. Besides, out of the four, he’s the one vampire who has lived in the world all his life, and has money, so it makes sense that he would be of some help to the other three.

The question is whether escape is possible at all.

Now, please do keep in mind that I’m writing this review after reading an ARC, so perhaps some of the things that I’m going to discuss have been fixed or changed in the version of the novel that actually hits the shelves—I have no way of knowing. With that said…

On the one hand, the exploration of the internal dynamics and power struggles of the Brethren, as well as the mystery of their origins, are quite intriguing. I too want to know how and when and why Rene’s family left the compound. There are many threads open with this installment that I want to follow. And I confess that I like the parallels between the Brethren community, its secrecy and controlling patriarchal society, and the more fundamentalist of Mormon sects. But then, I’m a fan of this blog 😀

On the other hand, the world building, which I found particularly appealing in Dark Thirst, becomes a tad heavy handed in Dark Hunger. Plus there is some repetition, which becomes tiresome instead of intriguing—which would be my guess was the purpose, for example, of giving so much page space to the matter of Rene’s family tree or the uncontrollable urges of the bloodlust.

At the same time, there several inconsistencies. For example, we are told how isolated and self contained the Brethren are, living in their compounds, with only the Elders allowed to leave and interact with the rest of the world at large. Yet, Tessa is referred to as a trained dancer. Short of having an academy on the grounds, how was this accomplished? Similarly, it is mentioned several times that Brandon is an Aikido master—but no other vampire is. Supposedly Lina’s brother taught him, but that is not how it works—a few years are not enough, and without constant practice those skills go rusty in a hurry. (Then again, that may explain why he gets his ass handed to him so often—Aikido is about using the attacker’s momentum and force against him, not about the practitioner’s strength)

As far as characterization goes, I found Tessa incredibly annoying—from the beginning on she behaves in the traditional TSTL manner of the most irritating romance heroines. Some of this is explained away by her background—the Brethren have money and use it, plus they live isolated from most humans, which mean that even though technically she’s an adult, in experience she’s a young child. Unfortunately, even keeping this in mind didn’t help me understand, let alone justify, the many instances of spoiled child syndrome in her behaviour.

While Rene was better realized, a few clichés too many were used to explain his past and behaviour. Plus, many if not all of the French phrases he uses are incorrect, and the habit of translating them immediately afterward, each and every time, is most annoying. Seriously now, how many times in the same chapter do we need to be told that merde means shit?

On top of the individual irritation, I couldn’t believe the attraction between Rene and Tessa, nor the different conflicts—misunderstandings, etc.—that they stumble over through the book. I couldn’t connect with them at all.

Despite all of these issues, I am intrigued by the world Ms Reinke has build. I want to know where the Brethren come from, how and why they have (d)evolved into the culture they are today.

This one gets 6 out of 10, but I will be waiting for the next book in this series, hoping to learn more about this world.

You can find Dark Hunger via amazon.com here and via amazon uk here


  • Hi, Azteclady,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my book and for offering such an encouraging, candid review! I just sent a copy of this book to a reader in France with the caveat that she had to forgive me my butchering of her beautiful language, as it was not intended. I tried… *hiding under a rock now…wait, coming out for coffee…going back under rock again*

    God only knows what I inadvertantly inscribed to her in French on the title page… heh heh

    Again, I enjoy and appreciate how you always take the time to share what worked for you and what didn’t in a story. While I know things like this vary from reader to reader, as a writer, I find it particularly beneficial because often time, things are called to mind that I hadn’t noticed before, or, in the case of plot points, that hadn’t occurred to me. For example, when you talked about Tessa’s and Brandon’s individual training, I realized that I must not have established clearly enough how all of that came to pass… (*making mental note to clarify these in future books…if editor buys any, LOL*)

    Thank you again!


  • Ms Reinke, I truly appreciate your equanimity and class, as well as the opportunity to read the novel in advance.

    I am certainly hoping the next one comes out soon, because I want to know how exactly the final twist gets solved. I have ideas (and what you posted over at TGTBTU sort of confirms my suspicions, heh) but I want to know for sure.


  • I’ve introduced a new forum for Brethren Series readers: http://sarareinke.activeboard.com. It includes deleted scenes, plus an alternate ending for DARK HUNGER that may shed some light for readers on what happens in the first few hours after the book concludes. Spoiler alert — some of the threads here will contain spoilers for both books in the series, so don’t read if you don’t want to know! 🙂 Check it out, sign aboard and join in the conversation! You’ll also find links to the board in my website navigation bar: http://www.sarareinke.com.


  • […] from what has already been said, but that has never stopped me before. I do tend to agree with Azteclady when she says this is more “urban fantasy” than “romance,” and I think that’s an important […]

  • I received word from my editor on October 1, 2008 that there will be no further books in The Brethren Series. I appreciate all of the wonderful feedback I’ve received from readers and know many have been left wondering what happens after DARK HUNGER ends. Although I tried three times to pitch an additional installment to the series, the original pitch is the story as I meant it to continue. I don’t have much of the manuscript completed, and what I do have, you’ll find in the “Deleted Scenes” thread at my forum, as alternate scenes from “Dark Hunger.” The outline for the proposed third book in the Brethren Series, “Dark Passion” is now also available at my forum. IT CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE PUBLISHED BOOKS. Hopefully it will answer any lingering questions readers may have about the events set up in “Hunger.” 🙂 You’ll find it here: http://sarareinke.activeboard.com/index.spark?forumID=114707&subForumID=452543&p=2

    Thanks again to everyone who has read my books and let me know their thoughts on them. You’ve made a rewarding experience even more worthwhile.



  • Hi, Azteclady,

    I wanted to let you know that the third book in the Brethren series, “Dark Passion,” is available now in ebook from Double Dragon Publishing (print version forthcoming). I would love to send you a complimentary copy for your review consideration! However, since last fall, I’ve switched ISPs and email servers and cannot find your email address among my contacts – ack! Please feel free to email me if you’d be interested in receiving a copy of “Dark Passion” and I’ll email one to you right away!

    Sara Reinke


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