#ReleaseDay — Surrender the Dark (The Dark) #1 by Tibby Armstrong — Review
Title: Surrender the Dark
Series: The Dark #1
Author: Tibby Armstrong
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Page Count: 251
Blurb: As a provocative series of paranormal temptation begins, a vampire king seduces the supernaturally gifted man hunting him.
But when the stakes are literally life or death, their struggle for control is no game.
Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry.
What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion.
When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.
After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago.
The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now.
Hunter born...hunter bred—a song, a chant, that would weigh Benjamin down the rest of his life.
Twenty years after the fateful night that took his entire family along with his vision at the War Kings hands, Benjamin walks the streets, along with his two and only friends, Nyx and Akito, hunting for vampires in the Common's Parkman Bandstand in Boston.
He's plagued by nightmares and visions—accompanied by eyes and voice—of the vampire "I've time for you now" that he failed to kill, in turn, allowing to get away, and the guilt is destroying him. Only alcohol can numb his mind that is otherwise ruled by hatred and vengeance to destroy them all.
Tzadkiel Dragoumanos hasn't stopped thinking about the eight-year-old boy, Benjamin, since the night his uncle held him prisoner. Injected with acid and iron into his veins to dampen his magic and keep him from healing, Tzadkiel has hidden underground in subways and tunnels fighting for his life and sanity. For twenty years, through the haze of pain, rage, and loss of memory, he could still smell and taste the sweet elixir of Benjamin's blood.
Regardless of what Benjamin was taught and what he believes, Tzadkiel is an honorable vampire but he is back and is ready to serve justice and fight for his rightful place as War King. He doesn't want to give favor to the hunter that destroyed him, but he's pulled to him, he fantasizes about him, and his gums pulse with anticipation and need.
It's been five years since I bought my first Tibby Armstrong book and wow, wow, wow!! I know I've grown as a reader and she has definitely grown as a writer. Not that she was bad, btw, No Apologies and Acting Out, back in 2012 were two of my most favorite reads, but wow, Surrender the Dark is amazing. The descriptive narrative is absolutely captivating, and I was on the edge of my seat, more often than not, and that—for me—is what reading is about.
The world-building is spectacular and the prose sucked me in from the beginning. I read the entire story from start to finish. I felt like I was there and that I could, also, smell the elderflower, Benjamin's signature scent, and a sure sign he was around. The writing was so vivid and detailed, but complex.
A lot goes on in this book, I'm sure because it's the first in the series and in order to understand the how, what, where, and why...there's a lot of world building. But, I loved that part of it. I loved that the reader was put in this world and we weren't rushed.
This is an enemies-to-lovers in every way. The tension, the lust, the hunger are all so thick between them that when they do give in to their carnal needs you just know that they will have so much power between them that it will be freaking explosive.
And, Gah! was it ever!
They hate with so much passion and are determined to win the battle against the other. Benjamin and Tzadkiel have a slow-build romance that was not as relevant as the fighting, however, their passion and hunger was dripping from the page. It was intense, raw, and had my neck arching the same as Benjamin.
"Holy shit." Benjamin breathed.
His thoughts scattered like smoke and ash, dispersed on the wings of his afterglow. Who cared if an entire zombie army driven by power-crazed witches burned Boston to the ground? He pressed questing fingertips to the bruises along his neck.
Tzadkiel's kisses had been a threat and a promise. If the vampire ever did fuck him, Benjamin now had zero doubt the experience very well might kill him. Indeed, it would almost be a shame if it didn't.
Death by sex, at least with this man, especially in comparison to every other way he might die, seemed a pretty decent way to go.
As Tzadkiel works to gain back his moor (his vampire family) they realize they are also working against other sources of evil. While hunter and vampire work together, learn to trust each other, they begin to let down their guard "a little" between each other.
Surrender the Dark is complex and complicated but so worth it. It's everything a paranormal story should be taking the reader on an epic journey of intense and captivating storytelling. The hunter becomes the hunted. The boy becomes the man. It's about perseverance and acceptance. Honor and sacrifice.
I love how the author shows so much humor between these two even when they are biting each other's heads off. I love that Benjamin's snarky attitude and bitter tongue—often used to cover his fears of loneliness... I love that Tzadkiel could see through that and soften his demeanor. I love that the hunter could say I'm sorry,
There's a whole cast of secondary characters but two especially, Nyx and Akito, that were vital to Benjamin and this story. Akito will be in book two and I'm looking forward to his story. I can't wait to learn more about both of these two complex characters with so much loyalty and devotion to Benjamin but have a story of their own just as captivating.
For twenty years Benjamin was alone, and most of all, lonely, but he carried on the legacy handed down to him destroying what he had been taught was evil. Inside himself, he was able to see the error of his beliefs and find the missing piece of his soul.
The ending had me gasping in disbelief and the epilogue lifted me up and was everything to make the story right again. Highly recommended!
* I was provided a copy through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review *
meet the author
Tibby Armstrong has been a romance reader since the age of eleven, when she snuck a very bad historical from her aunt’s shelves. In her late twenties, she fell in love with paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Now she writes contemporary and paranormal stories with strong relationship threads and a healthy helping of steam.