I am ridiculously excited about Bookouture’s new sci-fi and fantasy imprint, Second Sky. This is my first blog tour with them, and I’m sure it won’t be my last! Welcome to my tour stop for Hidden, the first in Shalini Boland’s Vampires of Marchwood series.
Author: Shalini Boland
Book: HIDDEN (plus TAKEN and HUNTED – my review is only for Hidden, but the other two are also available now!)
Publication Day: March 21st 2023
Falling in love has never been so dangerous…
From USA Today bestselling author Shalini Boland comes the addictive Vampires of Marchwood series. Perfect for fans of K.F. Breene, Sarah J. Maas and Tracy Wolff.
My name is Madison Greene. On my seventeenth birthday, I inherited an old mansion and wealth beyond my wildest dreams. I thought it was a joke, but as I step through the creaking door of the sprawling building, I realise my life in foster care is in the past. I’ve been chosen and my world has changed forever.
But I wasn’t told that Marchwood House hides a secret.
As I explore every inch of the crumbling property, I stumble upon a set of large, dusty boxes in the basement. When I pull back the lid and look down, I find myself staring at the most handsome face I’ve ever seen. High cheekbones, porcelain skin…
And when he wakes up and locks eyes with me, I realise my heart already belongs to him, even though my head is screaming at me to get as far away from Marchwood as possible. Because I know what he really is.
I never planned to fall in love – but it’s too late now. Alexandre has a dark and dangerous past. He needs me and I have to help him. But can a human really save a vampire?
The story unfolds in two times: 1881, where we see Alexandre Chevalier and his family on an archaeological dig in Turkey, searching for a lost underground city of legend, and the present day, where Madison Greene and her brother Ben, children in the foster care system whose parents are dead, inherit a great country estate and a pile of cash from a long-dead relative. This newfound wealth changes Maddy and Ben’s lives, and they have no idea how much their lives will change when they move to Marchwood.
The 1881 timeline was fascinating. I loved the details of the archaeological dig, the chase to find the myths on which the story of the lost city was based, the tension as they explored the location they ultimately found. The horror of the party’s encounter with ancient vampires was deliciously spine-tingling, and the aftermath of that encounter heartbreaking. I felt a little bit bad for Alexandre. Were it not for his foolish choice at a party, his entire family wouldn’t have been in Turkey. Definitely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Modern day lost a little something by comparison, but the story still kept me engaged. Maddy is a teenager, and a lot of the time, she jolly well acts like one. She’s prone to serve attitude, make impetuous decisions, and then regret her life choices. (Wait. Alexandre was a teenager, too….) I can’t really fault her for serving attitude to her foster parents, though. They make it clear that they see her and Ben as more of a meal ticket than children to love and raise and care for. Ben is a likeable young man, and Travis really deserves better than what he gets from Maddy. But Boland’s writing style just sucks you along into the story, regardless of the itch to smack a character upside the head because she rushes into situations headlong.
Vampires are portrayed quite differently here than they are in many stories, and Alexandre is a lovely character. (Although I’m unaccustomed to vampires that have serious self-restraint when they need to feed. It took a little getting used to.) His relationship with Maddy is, for the most part, sweet, especially when you remember that he was only a teenager when he became a vampire. So he’s really a century or more older chronologically, but emotionally, they’re pretty close in age.
I’ve seen this book compared to Twilight. I can see the resemblance, but this was a lot more fun to read than Twilight. Bella was a weak-willed, wishy-washy, almost emotionless heroine. Maddy has spunk. She may do stupid stuff, but no one will ever accuse her of being passive!
Four stars for a delightful bit of brain candy that leaves me wanting to know what happens next! Gotta read books two and three.
Is this a book you’ll pick up? Leave me a comment!
About the author:
Shalini lives in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and Jess, their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer songwriter, but now she spends her days writing suspense thrillers (in between school runs and hanging out endless baskets of laundry).