Book Title: Dark Summer (A sequel to Blood Winter)
Author: S. J. Coles
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: July 27, 2021
Genres: M/M Romance, Paranormal Romance, Vampire Romance, Thriller
Tropes: Love against the odds, Forbidden Love, love triangle
Themes: Learning to love, healing, facing fears
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 50 247 words/ 204 pages
It is not a standalone story. It is the second book in a series.
Is a human lifetime long enough to learn to love a vampire?
A sequel to Blood Winter
Is a human lifetime long enough to learn to love a vampire?
The tumultuous events of the Blood Winter are a fading nightmare, and Alec and Terje are trying to build a life together at Alec’s newly restored ancestral home of Glenroe. There’s just one problem… Terje doesn’t appear to be committed—constantly called away on mysterious errands and seemingly unable to forsake his own kind. Alec begins to wonder if Terje is capable of loving anyone, let alone him.
When an old uni friend Jay Singh, recently out of the closet and looking rather too good to be true, returns to Alec’s life, he becomes more conflicted than ever. Things only escalate when Alec is forced into the social and political issues still surrounding the haemophiles’ tumultuous integration into human society and soon it is more than just his relationship on the line.
Can Alec figure out what kind of future is possible with a vampire—and if it can ever be enough for either of them—before it’s too late?
Terje was brushing his long fingers through the hair on my chest. I forced my eyes open, fighting back the warm oblivion that had threatened to steal me away.
“No, I’m not.”
Terje chuckled softly and extricated himself from my arms. I made a noise of protest, propping myself on my elbows as Terje started to collect his clothing from the floor.
“What are you doing?”
“You should sleep,” Terje said, pulling on his jeans.
“This is the first night we’ve had together in weeks,” I muttered, taking Terje by the wrist and pulling him close. “I’m not going to sleep for any of it.”
Terje brushed a kiss across my forehead. “If you’re sure…”
“Of course I’m sure,” I said, annoyance bleeding into my tone.
Terje, either not noticing or not caring about my reaction, continued to dress, pulling on his T-shirt, shoes and light, black jacket. He always wore muted tones, blacks and grays, sometimes pale blues. It should make someone with his pale complexion look washed-out or even sickly. But against his smooth, pearlescent skin and hair, it just made him look exotic, unearthly, surreal but achingly beautiful.
“Are we going somewhere?” I asked, breaking off from staring to retrieve my underwear.
“I’d like to go for a walk,” Terje said, pulling a band out of his pocket and tying his blue-white hair back into a tail. As I was the only one available to cut it and I wasn’t the best hairdresser, he’d allowed it to grow long again. The shorter strands at the front fell into his eyes, but it left the smooth lines of his neck free.
“In the park,” he replied, fetching a bottle from a bag he’d dropped in the corner. “Below the castle.”
“They have that here,” Alec said, indicating the fridge.
“I prefer my own,” he replied. He opened the bottle, drank deeply and color washed into his cheeks. He dropped the empty bottle in the specialist canister next to the fridge and went toward the window.
“This is a safe place,” I muttered, grabbing a fresh shirt out of my case. “You don’t have to go out of the window.”
“It’s better to be careful,” he said, then was gone.
I sighed, trying to fight the return of my frustration. I finished dressing and hurried out into the busy city night. The air had cooled but the towering stone buildings still retained some of the warmth from the day, giving the air an enclosed feel. The sky arched black overhead, bleached featureless by streetlight.
Terje was nowhere in sight. I crossed the North Bridge, heading for Market Street and the way down into the Princes Street Gardens. The noise of people weaving between the bars, clubs and restaurants fell away as I descended the stairs into the cool, fresh openness of the park. A train heading into Waverley station hissed by on the rails above. As I ventured farther in to where the only light was from the LED lampposts installed to lower light pollution, the stars finally became visible, glittering like diamonds on a sheet of black velvet.
Edinburgh Castle glowered from its clifftop, all ramparts, towers and impossibly large blocks of stone. I had always thought it looked forbidding, but when Terje stepped out of the shadows to stand at my side and gaze up at it in quiet wonder, I tried again to see it how he might see it.
“It’s beautiful, in its own way,” he had said the first time we had visited Edinburgh, almost a year before. “It’s a promise to protect as well as to fight back.”
Looking at his profile in the starlight, my anger faded and, for the moment, I was just grateful he was back.
He laced his long fingers through my own. The memory of Jay touching that same hand earlier that day rose in my mind but I shook it away, along with the ghosting guilt. Terje sent me a sideways look and I was suddenly certain, however impossible it was, that he knew. But then he started to walk down the path, drawing me with him.
“We have a story about a haemophile that lived in the castle in the middle ages,” Terje murmured as we walked. “Did I tell you that?”
“No, you didn’t. I’ve heard lots of ghost stories about it,” I said absently. “Never anything about vampires.”
“It’s one of our stories. Like a cautionary folk tale…”
Terje’s forehead creased slightly in the pale light. “Very few of our kind have ever lived outside of a commune. This one did. Her story, well…it doesn’t end well.”
About the Author
S.J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK. She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.
She finds writing LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation, emotion and sexuality.
Among her biggest influences are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice.
Sequel to “Blood Winter” (which I highly recommend), violence, lots of discrimination and death.
Dark Summer by S.J. Coles is a sequel to Blood Winter. Now, the first book in this series was one of my favorite reads of last year so this one had a lot to live up to. I’m happy to report that this was a really satisfying follow up… it was exciting, emotional and wrapped up the most important loose ends
This book begins shortly after the first book left off. Alec and Terje are trying to figure out a life together. The thing is… a human and a vampire and very different from one another. Coles did such an amazing job in book one of creating the haemophiles. I said when I reviewed the first book that these aren’t the average vampires. The author has done a fantastic job of fleshing out the world of haemophiles.
Coles explores what it must be like to live for far longer than a human being normally would. Our wants and needs change, the things that we appreciate and love… the things that we want would be completely different. These haemophiles aren’t emotionless or disconnected; they have evolved and changed to the point at which they have completely different goals and wants. I don’t want to go into it too much, but the way that Coles has built up the world of the vampires in this story is great.
In this particular book, Alec is struggling with the fact that Terje feels as though he’s not fully invested in their relationship. Most of the struggles should be behind them, but Terje is still disappearing from their home… sometimes for weeks and Alec can’t help but interpret that as Terje not committing to “them.
A friend from Alec’s past reappears in his life when he has reached an emotional point in his relationship with Terje. The thing is, it’s difficult to trust in someone who doesn’t express the same emotion that you do. There’s a lot at stake for Alec but there is also a lot at stake for Terje.
Terje is working with his own kind to try and facilitate world in which people like him and Alec can live together without fear. No one knows that Terje is alive, so he is the perfect person to do some behind-the-scenes work. But there’s always danger when it comes to the haemophile world. There are still those who don’t support a peaceful future.
There’s a lot of conflict in this book and a lot of emotion. I found myself with tears in my eyes a few times (which doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book).
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) violence, death, fighting, infidelity (partner doesn’t consider it infidelity), alcohol abuse, blood drinking.
I received an ARC of Dark Summer by S.J. Coles via Gay Book PR in exchange for an unbiased review.