Thursday, August 5, 2021

Cliff's Descent


Every mortal who works at network headquarters knows that vampires reside below them. They were the first to surrender to the powerful Immortal Guardians who hunt them. And they did so, hoping they can be saved, that the doctors and scientists the Immortal Guardians employ can halt the progressive brain damage that robs all vampires of their sanity. Though curious, Emma never thought she would meet any of the vampires who remain under heavy guard several stories beneath her office. Then mercenaries strike, bombarding the building with heavy artillery. The vampires are freed to join the fray... and Cliff saves her life.

From that moment on, she can't stop thinking about him regardless of the restrictions placed on interactions with vampires. When Emma discovers a way to speak to Cliff at network headquarters, she becomes even more fascinated by him. He's smart, charming, and honorable to his core despite the darkness that lies ahead. And he seems to crave her company as much as she does his. Aware of the eyes that watch them, they keep their encounters innocent, limiting them to those of mere acquaintances. Nevertheless, their attraction grows and she soon falls in love with him even as the madness begins to claim him.

Cliff realizes his future is dark. As one vampire friend after another succumbs to insanity, hope that network doctors will be able to find a cure in time to keep him from meeting the same fate begins to dwindle, leaving him little to look forward to... until he meets Emma. Just speaking to her brings him a happiness and contentment he hasn't experienced since before his transformation. And when they finally find a way to be alone together, everything changes. Emma burrows her way right into his heart and quiets the voices. She sparks dreams of a future with her that strengthen his determination to beat back the madness. But as time passes, the voices grow louder and insanity begins to chip away at him until he fears it will eradicate every part of him she fell in love with.

Will the two of them find a way to defy the odds and find their happily-ever-after? Or will Cliff's descent consume him?

Book source ~ ARC. 
My review is voluntary and honest.
27 July 2021
Paranormal | UF | Romance
290 Pages

My Rating ~ 5 bites

Known as Cliff the Vampire at network headquarters, he’s a favorite of the human employees and the Immortal Guardians whose job it is to kill vampires, not protect them. However, one night several years prior during a massive confrontation between the Immortal Guardians, Bastien (long story), and vampires, Cliff and two others were asked if they wanted to surrender and be housed at the network while the doctors work on a cure for the virus that transforms the non-gifted into vampires. Since the other option is to be killed outright they agree. Plus, they really wanted to be cured. 

Cliff has survived longer than any known vampire, but he’s struggling. His friends do anything and everything they can think of to keep him sane and one person who quiets the voices is Emma. Years pass and as time marches on and there’s still no cure, Cliff has to face reality – he’s slowly succumbing to the madness that afflicts all vampires and he needs to make a choice soon about how he wants to die. When a final terrible battle is thrust upon them, Cliff grabs his chance to die a hero. But will the people who love him let him go?

Wow. And holy shit. I love this story! Love it! It’s different from all of the other Immortal Guardians tales in that we have known Cliff from Book 1. He has been an integral part of the Immortal Guardian Universe for several years and 10 books. He’s been in the background as a secondary character in every single story. Getting his own book just feels right. Plus, he’s a great character! He may not be an Immortal Guardian, but as a vampire he is still a central character in the fight against a virus that destroys anyone who is not gifted.

Now, I wondered how the hell Dianne Duvall was going to write about a guy we’ve come to know and love over such a long span. Someone who has been in the background, but who is such a wonderful guy that he makes friends among everyone. Well, she started at the beginning, of course. And it works. I love how we get scenes from previous books, but from Cliff’s POV. Seeing everything through his eyes made all the other books richer and in-depth to me. But that’s just my opinion. I love multiple POVs.

It wouldn’t be an Immortal Guardians book if there wasn’t a strong woman to stand up for the man she’s attracted to and that’s where Emma comes in. Cliff saves her after she was trying to save others when network HQ is attacked. And a slow-moving romance blossoms from a friendship encouraged by their friends. Emma and Cliff give us insight into network headquarters and we get to see, up close and personal, Cliff’s struggle with the madness that has consumed his friends and is slowly consuming him. Emma is strong yet vulnerable, intelligent, and her humor shines through. She’s a perfect match for Cliff.

There are other readers who were disappointed in the ending to Cliff’s journey. I’m not one of them. I think it was the right choice to make and it is perfect. To me anyway. 

My favorite quote:

“You need to add a quiet room down here," Bastien drawled.

Yes, they did.

"Why?" Chris asked. "For interrogation purposes?"

"Okay," Bastien replied, voice bland.

A moment passed. Then..."Oh hell no," Reordon blurted. "I am not spending tens of thousands of dollars to soundproof a room down here so you two can have sex without the vampires hearing you."

"You want the vampires to hear us?"

Cliff and the other vampires laughed.

"No," Chris sputtered. "I mean, I don't want you having sex! Not while you're both on the clock. Melanie is supposed to be working-"

"She is." Bastien defended her, an edge entering his voice. "Long hours."

"And you are supposed to be serving as guard. Seven vampires live across the hallway. What are you going to do if a couple of them have psychotic breaks and try to escape while you two are having a quickie?"

"Chase them down bare-ass naked and give the human guards an eyeful."

That was one hell of an incentive not to escape.

"I don't know about you," one of the new vamps said in his apartment down the hallway, "but I'm pretty sure even total mind-fuck madness wouldn't make me risk that guy chasing me down and tackling me while he's naked and has a hard-on.”

I love the Immortal Guardians, Cliff the Vampire, and all the other individuals who exist in this wonderful universe. The fast action, steamy attraction, humor, and fantastic characters make my fingers fly through the pages as I devour each book in one sitting. Dianne Duvall’s books continue to sit on my Top Ten Favorite Series List. I cannot recommend them enough. In fact, you’ll probably get sick of me singing their praises. But I can’t help it. When I’m really down or stuck in a slump I will always turn to the Immortal Guardians to lift me back up. Because that’s what old friends do.