All she can remember is hunger…for him. A year ago, Alexandria Stevens strode through the doors of Wicked Ways and into the arms of a man—a monster, really—who stole everything from her. Her memory. Her life. Now she’s a creature of darkness with only hazy images in her mind of that night and a confusing jumble of emotions. A fierce hate…and an even fiercer desire for Markus Santini. Markus has walked through this world for more than a hundred years, knowing exactly who and what he was, until Alexandria undid it all. Undid him. When a former vampire colleague threatens one of the Enclave’s own, Markus is needed—but only as the dark, powerful creature he once was. And in order to become that, he must find redemption…in the arms of a woman who despises him with every breath she can no longer take.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
BAH!! It took me three books to get here but I finally made it to Markus and Alex’s story and damn it all if it wasn’t totally worth the wait!
Markus Santini has been hanging around since the first book and from read-to-read he has gone through cycles of evil, something similar to goodness, evil genius, depravity, and warped kindness. He’s been a member of the Enclave, a partner to the sick and twisted Marguerite, and a prisoner of the Enclave. He is also absolutely certain, to his core that Alexandra, the woman he kidnapped and turned against her will, is his mate. If he has any hope of claiming Alex for his own, Markus has a lot of work to do and that work begins with getting out of a silver lined cage.
Over and over again, Alex’s trust has been tested, pushed to the limit, and violated but through it all, she has survived. Not only has Alex survived she has become stronger and though she wouldn’t have chosen a vampire’s life, it’s what she has and she is bound and determined to make the best of it. Alex is beyond tired of being a victim and if she is going to claim her life and become even stronger she is going to have to start with getting some answers. Most in the Enclave think Alex is keeping her distance from Markus because of what he did to her but in truth, she keeps her distance so she can keep her intense attraction to him under control.
There is no denying the sexual chemistry between Alex and Markus but that is about the extent of their relationship. Markus has no desire for Alex to know all of his dirty little secrets and Alex has no desire to be used and/or victimized yet again. However, when Markus begins to take real steps toward healing and making amends with his fellow Enclave members, Alex takes notice. Trusting Markus is a difficult task but every once in a while, Alex sees a glimmer of goodness in Markus and she slowly begins to let her guard down. Markus knows there is a threat to Alex and the Enclave still out in the world in the form of Enrique and it is his intention to protect Alex (and the Enclave if he’s being honest with himself!) from that threat no matter what it may cost him. Enrique is a determined little rat with no scruple or morals; he is desperate to once again have power and getting to Alex and the Enclave is the answer to all his problems.
As the days and weeks go by, Alex and Markus come ever closer to one another but each holds just a bit back from the other. It isn’t until their lives are well and truly threatened that each realizes how tenuous even an immortals life can be. Enrique is one scary dude and when he is able to put all his plans into motion, the entire Enclave is threatened and many among the group some out with more than a few scrapes and bruises. The action and the drama of these intense moments reveals not only Markus’s true character but his affection for Alex. For Alex, these moments allow her to truly become a part of the Enclave and fight for those she now calls family. For what may be the first time in her life, Alex belongs somewhere and she intends to keep Markus with her.
The Bottom Line: Markus is the character you really love to hate and the author has done such a fine job over the course of the series of keeping him that gray area. For me, Markus is very much HBO’s Dexter – I know I’m not supposed to love the serial killer, yet I do. In what I am assuming is the final book of the series, Markus finally gets a chance to right all the wrongs he has done in his life. He wants to be good and if it weren’t for Alex and a very patient Kenric, the chance to be good, his moment of redemption may have never come. I love his struggle in this read and how hard the author really made Markus’s road. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? My only complaint about this read is how very much everyone babies Alex. She has endured and survived more than most and is a strong woman yet it takes huge moments and actions for anyone (other than Markus) to recognize Alex’s strength and ability to care for herself. Becoming Markus’s mate is huge for Alex and like him, she needed to struggle to get to her HEA. The push and pull between the two is pretty fantastic and I found myself really becoming quite attached to these two characters. Though I would certainly like to see the Enclave series continue, the ending to this read seems pretty fixed and final. If the series is done, I can honestly say I am pleased with the outcome and don’t feel like it could have ended any better than it did.