Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Series Bookish Thoughts: The Nikki and Michael Series by Keri Arthur

Meet the players ~ Nikki James is not your ordinary private investigator.  She is street smart and quite tenacious, but the extra-ordinary part of her comes in the form of psychic abilities.  She can find people by holding an item that belonged to them and move objects with her mind.  It comes in handy when she is in a fight, that's for sure. She works for Jake, the man who took her off the streets and invited her into his home. He is the closest person she has to a father, and she is extremely loyal to him.

Then you have Michael Kelly, three hundred year old vampire, working for the Damask Circle, meting out justice to supernatural baddies bent on causing havoc and harming the innocent.  

Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 368 pgs)

In Dancing with the Devil, Nikki believes she's on an ordinary case, assigned to track the teen-aged daughter of a wealthy client.  Only, what lurks in the shadows is anything but--you guessed it--ordinary.  Zombies and vampires and psychic abilities, oh my!  This is the first book in the series, and the story of how Nikki and Michael first meet.  Michael was assigned to protect and save Nikki for reasons unknown to him--or Nikki--when he finds himself face to face with an old enemy seeking revenge.  Despite Michael's efforts to keep Nikki out of it, Nikki is determined to stay on the case after the young teenage girl she'd been following goes missing.

Dancing with the Devil is dark and full of suspense.  The sparks fly between Nikki and Michael from the first moment they meet and it's obvious they will soon hit the sheets together.  I enjoyed the interplay between the two characters, her constant insistence to come along despite the danger and his natural desire to protect and keep her safe.  Yes, it is a bit cliche, but Nikki really isn't a slouch and can hold her own in a fight--at least some of the time--so, I found myself on her side more often than not.  Still, it is on the romantic side when the guy wants to protect you . . .

Nikki plays the damsel in distress often in this book, which might annoy some, but I think it was fitting given this is the first time Nikki is up against the supernatural.  She still has a lot to learn, and has her own demons from the past to shake.

Dancing with the Devil was an enjoyable book, both quick and fun.

Hearts in Darkness by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 336 pgs)

I admit I started to roll my eyes when I came across yet another teenager gone missing in the second book of the Nikki and Michael series.  Any doubts I had were swiftly swept away, however, the more I read. Hearts of Darkness picks up several months after Dancing with the Devil ends.  Nikki has resumed her old life and Michael is nowhere to be found.  Nikki should know.  She's tried to find him.

Nikki's current case, involving a teenage boy, suddenly turns ugly when he is kidnapped by a vampire. Michael then shows up on her doorstep with a proposition.  He needs her to accompany him as his fiance to a resort that may uncover the reasons behind and the location of several people who have disappeared, including the boy on Nikki's case.

In Hearts of Darkness, Michael must confront his past as well as his attraction and bond with Nikki.  Their fates are tied together, and no matter how much Michael thinks keeping her out of his life is the safest for her, he starts to question whether that is actually true.  Nikki is as determined as ever both to find her client and the niece of a friend and to convince Michael life with her is better than without her.

I liked this book better than the first in many respects, particularly because Nikki has definitely learned a thing or two from the last book.  The romantic tension between Michael and Nikki comes naturally, and I continued to enjoy the banter between the two characters.  I also felt the author did a better job in this second book of world building, introducing more supernatural elements and building on the background first introduced in the first book.  Like the first book, this one continues in a very dark vein.

Chasing the Shadows by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 336 pgs)

Nikki has discovered that being the girlfriend of a protective vampire is not exactly what she wants--or at least it isn't enough.  She longs to be a bigger part of Michael's life, including the part where he goes after the villains.  Only, Michael wants nothing more than to keep her and the evil in his life separate.  Nikki, never one to sit around and obey orders, heads off to San Francisco when her former boss and friend Jake requests here assistance in finding a missing woman.  Several wealthy women have gone missing, one of which has already turned up dead--and mutilated--despite the ransom being paid.  As has been the pattern in the previous two books, Nikki has landed herself smack dab in the middle of one of Michael's investigations.

Of the four books in the series, this is my favorite, I think.  The plot was a little simpler in terms of motive and execution, but still intense and well thought out.  Nikki and Michael were definitely on more even ground this book.  Nikki continues to discover new nuances in her existing skills as well as new paranormal abilities all together.  Michael too is noticing changes in his own abilities.

The relationship between the characters continues to be a bit complicated, both Nikki and Michael having brought baggage with them.  Not to mention how differently they see their roles and what they want from each other.  I liked the common themes played out between Jake and his wife, Mary, and how it juxtaposed Nikki and Michael's own situation.  It made for a more interesting story--not to mention gave me more insight into Jake and his wife, two people who play a big part in Nikki's life, especially when she was growing up.

Chasing the Shadows is rich in character angst and development.  It is a good addition to the series.

Kiss the Night Goodbye by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 336 pgs)

In Kiss the Night Goodbye, Nikki and Michael are a month away from their wedding.  That is, if Nikki can finish her final test before becoming an official Damask member.  Something goes horribly wrong during the test, nearly costing Nikki her life.  It is only beginning.  Someone is set on revenge, targeting Michael, Seline (a witch), and everyone around them.  When Michael is kidnapped and taken to a remote ghost town, Nikki follows, hoping to save him and the others threatened by the evil villain.

I couldn't help but think of Juliet Dark's The Angel Stone and Deborah Harkness's Shadow of Night which took the reader back in time as I began reading Kiss the Night Goodbye.  In this instance, there was no going back in time--not exactly.  And I was glad. It was a refreshing change.  The main antagonist was hell bent on recreating the scene that had led to his twin brother's death in order to bring the dead brother back to life.  As far as Michael knows, he is back in that time and place, and unaware of anything that happened beyond it.  Nikki must be careful in how she helps Michael regain his memory--which he must do--if she hopes to save him and herself and all the other innocent people caught up in the spell.

This was a next to impossible book to put down.  As with all the books in the series so far, it is quite dark, the villain is as evil as can be.  As the reader, I could definitely see how far Nikki has come in terms of her skills and maturity.  She has grown over the course of the books as has Michael.  It's obvious the two love each other very much, and I quite enjoyed the romance thread in this book and in the others, even if I questioned some of the timings for intimacies.

Overall, the Nikki and Michael series is entertaining and intense.  I flew through the books, reading them one right after the other.  Although I am not sure I would count this among one of my favorite series, I did enjoy it, and it gave me the chance to try an author on my unofficial "must read" list.

You can learn more about Keri Arthur and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copies of the books were provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


© 2013, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

12 comments:

  1. You know, I honestly didn't think this series was for me, but now I am putting book one on my wish list...

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    1. Kelly - I have another of this author's books in my TBR pile (been there for years). It never seemed like the right time to read it. I enjoyed this series, although, like I said, I'm not sure I'd count it among my favorites. I hope you like it if you do read it, Kelly.

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  2. This does sound like a good series, I like that the storyline is a bit dark. I can always appreciate a three hundred year old vampire. Great post!

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    1. Naida - There's just something about those older vampires, isn't there? :-) tend to like these types of books to be a bit dark too. Sometimes light and funny works, but it can be hard to pull off, I think.

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  3. I definitely plan on reading this series soon! Have you ever read her Riley Jensen series? I just checked the first one out from the library for a reread before I continue on with this series. Great reviews of these!

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    1. Samantha - I haven't read her Riley Jensen series. It looks like I may have to though.

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  4. Oh it's been so long since I've read her. I really enjoyed her books though (the Riley ones). I'll have to check these out next time I have free reading time.

    ~Anna
    herding cats & burning soup

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    1. Anna - It's good to know her other books are good too! I can't remember who is featured in the books I have by her I haven't read yet. I've had the books for years . . . I really should pull them off the shelf and see.

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  5. I've not heard of this series before but it sounds so good. I like anything vampires so I'll have to check it out.

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    1. Darlene - I don't think I'd heard of the series before either, although I am familiar with the author--at least in terms of having heard of her before and knowing she wrote the kind of books I enjoy.

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  6. So these are the books a good friend of mine was telling me about. A huge fan of this genre she gave some of Keri's other books which I admit to not liking. Perhaps these will be more to my taste.

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    1. Tracy - I don't know if you will like these if you didn't like some of her other books. Not that I know for sure, but her books all look very similar to one another to me. At least the ones I'm aware of. If you do try them though, Tracy, I hope you enjoy them much more than the others you tried and didn't like.

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