Book Review: Eternal Hearts (A Darkness Within #2) by Jennifer Turner

11114576Title: Eternal Hearts (A Darkness Within #2)
Author: Jennifer Turner
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Dark Dreams Press
Publication Date: June 1st 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Author Website
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy received for as host during the Eternal Hearts Tour.

Toni Tutoro just wants to go home. Banned from Chicago’s vampiric society after cutting a swath of violence through the city, she must now successfully complete an investigation for the Lord of Chicago to regain the right to live in her hometown again.To ensure Toni’s safety during her probationary period, Drake Black, a feared assassin, is secretly contracted to protect her. Even with direct orders to keep his relationship professional, and his own personal vow to never get involved with a female vampire again, Drake finds himself drawn to Toni in ways he can’t explain. But unbeknownst to him…he’s tied to one of the people who drove Toni to her night of destruction.
Drake’s legendary heritage holds the key to Toni’s survival and success, but will she be able to forgive his connection to the brutal night that robbed her of those she loved most? Will Drake be able to forget the betrayals in his past and risk taking one more chance? But most of all – can they find a way to reach each other in the darkness?

Read my review for Eternal Seduction, the first book in the series.
Read the interview with Jennifer Turner AND a sneak peek into Eternal Embers, Odin’s book!

Toni Tutoro’s reason to take revenge on the vampires who allegedly killed her entire family was totally understandable, and although even some of the ancient vampires feel for her, that didn’t keep her from being banned from her home town, Chicago, when breaking the Veil by killing vampires in public. Now, three years later, Toni is back in town, her presence requested by the very people who banned her in the first place. Unfortunately, the Vampire Lord of the city, Christian, has a very peculiar reason for wanting Toni in town: there’s some sort of werewolf plague going on, and he wants Toni to find out what the four-legged creatures are doing in vampire territory. Failing is out of the question. Meanwhile, we meet up with a familiar person from Eternal Seduction, Drake Black, a man torn and scarred by his long lost love for a vampire woman. While he was unable to let his dead heart beat for centuries, so to speak, with Toni around it does come pretty close. The two of them share an instant attraction, mainly because in Drake Toni finds the protector she seeks, and in Toni Drake finds the honest, reliable woman who would never manipulate him or hurt him intentionally. He can trust her, and it’s that trust he’s been craving for centuries now. It’s a match made in heaven…or somewhere a lot darker. As Toni goes on werewolf hunt, she is forced to face enemies from her past, the most prominent one being the woman who was at least partly responsible for Toni’s exile three years prior. As emotions run high, Toni and Drake must keep their cool…

Toni is a very…annoying character. Initially, I liked her. I felt for the tragic heroine who lost her family during an extremely violent crime, who was forced to flee her hometown for something as silly as taking revenge, and who is now finally able to return, only to learn that her return is only on the condition that she gets information involving the local werewolf population. However, my initial bond with Toni soon dissapeared into thin air as she went from one emotion to the other about as easily as another person takes a breathe. I mean, I don’t change my clothes as much as Toni changes emotion and partly personality as well, and I like changing my clothes two or three times a day. That’s just to give you an example of how much moodswings you have to get through in order to get to the essential plot. Toni just seems all over the place. I like her backstory, her basic personality, her ultimate goals, but I don’t like her extended personality, including the silly moodswings. I felt like slapping her and telling her to stick to one mood already. Even if it was just for a day, or even an hour. It’s exhausting to read about a heroine who’s either insanely happy, insanely sad, insanely scared or insanely angry, or everything inbetween. I like how the author tried to give her heroine a deep and meaningful personality with a lot of different layers, but whereas Jennifer Turner definately succeeded in this in Eternal Seduction, I think she went a bit over the top in Eternal Hearts. Toni is definately never going to be on my friend-list. Even for a traumatized fledgling vampire, she’s just a bit too moodswingy to make me appreciate her.

Drake Black is probably the opposite of Toni. Charming, powerful, but also cool and distant. At least that’s how he is towards everyone else, but oh no, not towards Toni. He instantly warms up towards her, and is all too eager to give her the place in his heart which long ago belonged to a traitorous vampire woman who supposedly scarred him for life. Well, great way to get over that…go for Mrs. Moodswing Extraordinaire. I know I’m being a bit sarcastic, but I couldn’t help but feel that Toni and Drake’s relationship was a bit rushed and a bit…unusual, if not implausible. Honesty alone isn’t going to cut in I’m afraid, not even for Toni, who is the epitome of honesty. This is the classic story of ancient vampire falling for highschool teenager on a bad hormone trip again, except that Toni isn’t even a highschool teenager, which makes this all the more annoying. I wanted Toni, but with a grown-up and adult personality, and perhaps then she would’ve been a nice match for Drake. Now I’m not so sure, and I actually feel kind of bad for the guy, who is thrown into a relationship with the equivalent of a hormonal high school teenage girl.

I liked the storyline, the plot twists and most of the supportive characters. One comment though is that, for a story as plot-driven as Eternal Hearts, the number of supportive characters was just too large. Some simply dropped by to say how much they missed Toni. Yes, and you’re important for the plot how? Your purpose in this life is what exactly? I mean, I’m all for supportive characters, but they ought to have a meaning. And you can say all you want about them getting larger roles in further novels, but if you cannot explain the reason of existence for one third of your supportive characters in this exact novel, then you simply have too many of them. I couldn’t even keep them apart! And I don’t like the name 8-Ball. Especially not for a vampire. I can’t help it.

Moving on, I have to say that another thing that bothered me about Eternal Hearts is how cliché it is. Eternal Seduction was practically a revelation – oh my god, someone can actually write paranormal romance without sounding totally cliché? And, did you notice the original and awesome vampire hierarchy, politics and history? And like, how it’s totally not predictable? Well, that sort of goes kaboom in the sequel. The story is still not predictable, mind you, but I missed Jennifer Turner’s impressive world-building skills, her interesting and original characters, and her unique and innovating take on vampire romance. Eternal Hearts is like a step back. A major step back. We’re thrown back into the realm of cliché, been-here-before stories of weak girl with annoying personality falls for insanely powerful, handsome and protective vampire with a dark side. Sounds familiar?

Well, now I’m officially done complaining. Because beside the fact that I’m not going to join a Toni-fanclub soon, and I’m not exactly cheering with self-made flags and fitting tshirts for Toni and Drake’s relationship, I still enjoyed this novel thoroughly. Eternal Hearts may not have pleased me as much as Eternal Seduction did, but it’s still an outstanding book in the genre of adult vampire romance, it has some kick-ass characters that’ll definately keep me reading (read: Odin…mmmhmm) and I would definately like to learn more about the paranormal world Jennifer Turner created for her Darkness Within novels. I can’t wait for book three in the series, Eternal Embrace, and I hope I get the opportunity to read it, even if I wasn’t as praising in this review as I was in my review for Eternal Seduction. Jennifer has a wonderful narrator’s voice, and she always comes up with a breathtaking, action-packed plot. I’m still impressed and eager to read more. Recommended to all paranormal romance fans.

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