Title: Dark Wine At Midnight
Author: Jenna Barwin
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance
Dark Wine At Midnight is first in the series of a brand new series that is written by Jenna Barwin. The second book is set to release in the winter of 2017/2018.
A no-spoilers quick summary: This book is set in the fictional small California community called Sierra Escondida. The community is inhabited and ran by vampires who are trying their best to blend into the mortal world around them. Their town structure/peace is disturbed however by the arrival of Dr. Cerissa Patel, a scientist with her own agenda. Dr. Patel soon gains the interest of Sierra Escondida founder Henry Bautista, who throughout the story becomes more entangled in Cerissa’s mission.
Favorite character: Normally I reserve my opinion of ‘best character’ for our hero or leading lady in the story, but this was not the case in this book. My favorite character in this book was by far Sierra Escondida’s police chief Tig Anderson. I found myself rooting for this character the entire book. I felt like 95% of the characters in this book had their own agenda, but Tig’s only agenda in this book was protecting the vampires and mortals of Sierra Escondida. Every choice she made and every thought she had was made with good intent. Tig was first introduced as a tough as nails cop, but as the story progressed (not to give too much away) I came to realize that she had so many layers going on and I found myself wanting to read more and more about her.
Overall likes/dislikes: Overall I really like this book. Something I really liked about it is that as readers we didn’t know everything 100% up front. I feel like with a lot of books, we as the reader know almost everything there is to know about our main character (Cerissa Patel in this case). Typically, the first 3 or 4 chapters go through everything that we need to know about our main character so that the reader is all caught up by the time the story starts to unfold. Dark Wine at Midnight didn’t offer its readers explanations at the beginning of the story and I loved that. Jenna Barwin kept me guessing until the last chapter, where I once again discovered something major about one of the main characters. Because of the choice to not divulge information all at once, I wasn’t able to determine how the story was going to end. Now it’s no surprise that I read a lot. I have gotten pretty good at predicting how a book is going to end. Now I don’t like to admit this, but Ms. Barwin managed to keep me in the dark for 95% of the book. Even when I finally fit together some pieces, I wasn’t able to solve the whole puzzle.
Something that I didn’t necessary dislike but made me stop and have to reread some parts of the book was the vampire politics. Ms. Barwin did a great job of creating this world and the people in it. In this world vampires are driven and live by their rules that committees and founders created so that they could all live peacefully. Vampire politics and laws drove a lot of what was going on within the story and sometimes I found myself getting a little confused so I would have to go back and reread certain parts of the books. Like I said it’s not necessarily a dislike, but more of a pre-disclosure to make sure you pay attention and don’t try to rush through those parts of the book.
I gave this book 3.5 stars. I took away some points only because for me personally the first book in a series usually underscores compared to the rest of the series. I enjoy reading books when I have personal interest in the characters, and this is why I like to read series. It doesn’t matter what series you read, the first book is when you as the reader are still trying to develop some kind of connection with the character. Normally this connection doesn’t really develop until the middle of the first book, and that was the case with this series. Cerissa and Henry gave off a lot of potential right from the start, but it wasn’t until I was around half way done with the book that I felt myself become invested in their story and caring about what happened to them. I will say this though, now that I have that connection with these characters I can not wait to see what happens to them in book 2.
Recommendation: I would highly recommend this book for those who are fans of the True Blood series. This series held the same elements of romance, supernatural beings, and politics.