REVIEW: Dark Need by Lynn Viehl

Dear Ms. Viehl:

Dark NeedI have pondered this book for a week now uncertain of what to write. Over the course of the past week, I’ve tossed around arguments in my head about what didn’t work for me in the story and why I am still excited about the series. It comes down to this. I fell in love with Alexandra and Cyprien in If Angels Burn and the promise of seeing them together has me slavering after you like a devoted puppy. If you should ever decide that they are no longer integral to your storylines, I won’t be interested because the world you created, while interesting, is overpopulated with unnecessary characters and dangling plot lines.

Dark Need starts out with a bang. Samantha, an overworked and underappreciated homicide cop, is investigating a death that is associated with a local nightclub owner who goes by the name Lucan. Those who follow your series know that Lucan is the bad boy of the Kin. He is the boogieman whispered to bad Kinlings at night. He is ostracized amongst his people and has always had to play second fiddle to Michael Cyprien.

The excerpt you had at your website for months was one that I read about ten times.

Sam tried not to jump on that, but it was irresistible. “Do you often have one night stands with strange, nameless women, Mr. Lucan?”

Three nights.” He drained his wineglass and straightened, moving a step closer.

Sam smelled night-blooming jasmine, but couldn’t identify the source. “What was that?”

“It was a three-night stand. I kept her in my bed for three nights.” He bent closer, and his voice dropped to a bedroom murmur. “How many nights would you last, Detective?”

The problem is the dark and naughty promises you made in the excerpt were never fulfilled. Instead I read a story about a female detective who had serious problems with a former partner. Those serious problems had nothing to do with the plot between Lucan and Samantha. Those serious problems did not further the character development. Those serious problems did not interweave with the troubles Lucan had with his enemies. It built up to absolutely nothing.

Lucan’s character presented several fascinating elements which were never fully explored. How does he resolve his internal emotional conflict with Michael Cyprien? Was his desire to have his own jardin simply a power ploy or does it come from some deeper need? What about Lucan’s inability to touch anyone and how does that impact his relationships? All those issues were brought up but never discussed in detail and his bad boy status was explained away because he was simply misunderstood.

Much of the story is told in halfs. You only get half a scene before the book cuts to a completely different set of characters. You only get half a plot. This is fine if you actually finish those scenes or plots at some point but all too often, the half scenes were never fully realized and neither were the half plots. Maybe one of the reasons that the half plots and half scenes and half characterizations were unfulfilling is because you try too much in one story. There are so many plots going on in the book: Alexandra and Cyprien’s hunt for a vampire who has lost his mind; Lucan and Samantha’s attraction; Samantha’s conflict with her stalking former partner; John’s continuing battle with the Order; Richard’s stability; the mystery of Samantha’s supervisor and a new transfer into Samantha’s department. I can’t really go into more of the problems without ruining the plot but suffice to say that there were two minor (HUGE) inconsistencies, one of which involved Lucan’s special power and another involving Richard.

After the big climactic fight scene that involved everyone and his extraneous cousin (and the extraneous’ cousin’s cousin), I was left with a lingering sense of unfulfillment and the knowledge that if the next book didn’t include Alex and Cyprien, I wouldn’t be buying. I can’t tell you how this disappoints me because I really loved your first book in the series. You have great talent for telling a story and I keep buying your books in hopes to recapture the magic that I felt when I read If Angels Burn. In this case I felt like your talent for creating characters and plot ideas overcame the story itself. Too many ideas and not enough resolution. C-.

Best regards,



0 comments on “REVIEW: Dark Need by Lynn Viehl

  1. I’ve been waiting for the review of this book. I’ve come to the conculsion that on most books Jane and I have very similar taste, but I liked this one, not as much as the first, but maybe a little more than the second.

    I look at the “half scenes” differently. It’s a way to continue the secrets, nothing is ever fully told in any of the books. How often does Alex realize Michael has lied by omission through these books. Each character is revealed slowly and never completely. This adds to the good vs. evil feel of the book without ever really knowing ultimately which group is which, Darkyn or Order. Though with each book John seems to be coming closer to making that decision.

    I thought the relationship between Sam and Lucan is the closest LV has gotten to actually creating a romance. I also thought the stalking by her previous partner was part of the story has it causes confusion that add to the whodunit.

    Too many ideas and not enough resolution.

    I think that’s part of the point of the continuing story line, thes books are not meant to be stand alone, each grows on the previous and adds additional layers to the long term story.

  2. Nuts my last post somehow disappeared, so I’m trying again.

    I normally agree with most of Jane’s reviews, we seem to have very similar taste, but I really enjoyed this book. I do think If Angels BUrn is the best in the series to this point, but I thought this was a little better than the second.

    I think the “half scenes” are intentional, as the story is always shrouded in mystery and confusion, you’re never quite sure where it’s going. Michael is never completely honest with Alex, keeping her perpetually in the dark about what is going on within the “Darkyn” and the story also keeps us somewhat in the dark. They are good vs. evil stories and at times you’re not sure which is which, Darkyn vs. Order. John seems to be coming closer to his decision.

    The relationship between Samantha and Lucan seems to fall much closer to a “romance” style book, and yet the book still has the feeling of horror and mystery.

    Too many ideas and not enough resolution.

    These books don’t stand alone, each builds and moves towards the next, ultimately nothing except the romantic relationships are resolved and isn’t that part of the point of the series, to pull us to the next book.

  3. Oh, I hate that TM, when posts disappear. I don’t mind the if part of the story is shrouded in mystery and confusion if there is a pay off at the end of the book. I also don’t mind the dangling plot threads as it relates to Alex/Micheal, the drama between the Bethren and the Darkyn, and so forth.

    But when the author raises issues which have no apparent connection with the ongoing book to book conflict: i.e., Lucan’s feelings of self worth, Samantha’s stalker, the monk friend of John’s and so forth, that is where my real problem comes in. I particulary thought that the romance between Lucan and Samantha was weak and uninspired given this author’s talent. I felt, at the end of the story, that so little time was spent on Lucan and Samantha’s romance that it would barely fit into a short story and so as a romance book (and aren’t these billed as romances?) it failed. Obviously I am passionate about this book because of my love for the series! 🙂

    And the rest of the post gets into some spoilers so


    1. I found it unbelievable that Samantha did not recognize who Suarez was until he took off his GLASSES.
    2. I found it unbelievable that the whole “stage” show was set up so that Lucan could try to kill Richard, which didn’t work anyway.
    3. I found it unbelievable that Sam’s neighbor and her friends were there at the bar “helping” her.
    4. I found it unbelievable that Leigh could come back after drinking the “heart” potion to kill Lucan and everyone else (in addition to sending Lucan the silly copper threats).
    5. I found the inclusion of the stalker story to be meaningless. What was the point of that? And why did he show up at the end?

  4. …author raises issues which have no apparent connection with the ongoing book to book conflict.

    I thought these issues are meant to add to the overall confusion.

    As to the spoilers…

    1. I didn’t pay much attention to this, figuring it would continue into other stories.
    2. As to killing Richard, I’m not so sure that’s what Lucan was ultimately trying to do.
    3. This one I did buy into, the neighbor/friends, have no real idea what would be happening.
    4. The Leigh thing, I think the threats were meant to annoy, and as to surviving, heck, it seems many of the character survive all sorts of torture.
    5. The stalking–this added to the confusion as to who was doijng the torturing and killing, so it worked for me.

    I can see and understand your disappointment, but I guess I came to it from a different perspective.

  5. Jane, I haven’t read either of the two Lynn Viehl books, but I read several of SL Viehl’s Star Doc books. My general discontent with them was similar to your comment here: too many ideas, not enough resolutions. The Star Doc books are science fiction rather than romance, but even there, where the relationship between heroine and her husband is supposed to feed back into the plot, I find the writing to be lacking. The paucity of the relationship in this new series (which I think is billed as romance, or at least is always shelved there) would be a problem for me.

  6. I love the Star Doc series and some of her other books, but this one just didn’t do it for me either. I was waiting to see what you said, and I pretty much agree with you. I hope the next one in the series lives up to the earlier ones.

  7. I loved this book! I got an ARC months ago and thought it was the strongest one in the series yet. It does end on a huge cliff-hanger, but it also really sets up the next book and a larger step in the overall story arc.

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