Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
Riley Poe left her wild past behind when she became the only person her kid brother could rely on. She has a booming business as a tattoo artist and her little brother — now 15 — is, for the most part, a good kid. She stops in for tea and breakfast with her surrogate grandparents, Preacher and Estelle, each morning.
Preacher is deep in gullah magic. While Riley’s been filled in on all of it, she’s always seen it as his belief. That is until she discovers just how much of the world she hasn’t been seeing.
But when her brother and his friends are marked by vampires, she learns more about herself, her family and the underside of Savannah, Georgia. The Dupreé family of vampires, with Preacher’s OK, helps Riley stay safe and seek out the information that may be able to save her brother and stop the other, cruel vampires.
The awkward part is her on-site bodyguard, Eli, ignites something in Riley. more than just being a sexy guy, there’s a unique chemistry between them. Riley has been on her own for a long time, so letting Eli tell her what to do — even if it’s to keep her safe — isn’t really going to fly.
Elle Jasper makes sparks fly between Riley and Eli. Expect some funny banter and intense heat between these two. Also, romantic interactions with them on the opposite sides of the room and…wait for it… walls, rain, stairs…well, you get the idea. It’s an urban fantasy story that packs some heat.
The ancillary characters are bright spots in some of the darker moments, especially the Dupreé siblings.
Merging voodoo/magic and vampire mythology gives Afterlight a new flavor. While Jasper doesn’t dig too deep into the gullah magic beliefs — as they aren’t those of our heroine Riley, but of her surrogate grandparents — the unique relationship between the root magic folk and Dupreé vampires is fertile ground for more novels.
The ending felt abrupt, though. While the plot ties up, emotionally I was left hanging. I’m sure Jasper has more in store for the next book, but I finished Afterlight without closure. That said, you can bet I’ll be picking up the second Dark Ink Chronicles book.
Sexual content: Jasper brings the heat with more than one sex scene. Adults only.