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Thief of Souls by Cynthia Wicklund

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thief of Souls

Cynthia Wicklund
Contemporary Romance/Paranormal
Published in 2011

H/h - Nicholas Anthony/Regina Miles
Setting: San Fransisco, Present time.

Read in Mar, 2012.
My rating:

                                                 [spoiler alert]

My 2nd experience with Cynthia Wicklund’s book was marvelous. Thief of Souls is a PNR contemporary about a vampire who lives on the souls of his victims, had a great plot along with a pretty compelling main character, Nick. I don’t really read vampire stories, I have my reasons but I’m so glad I gave this book a try. Then again, after reading two CW book, I can honestly say I can put my trust on her writing.

We don’t really get to learn much about Nick’s past in a flow but more or less in flashbacks and reminisces from Nick’s POV. We just know that he’s been cursed for a long time, centuries to be exact. He’s actually lived all these 400 yrs. and not by time-travelling like KMM’s Highlanders. It has been a dark and forbidding existence. The bleakness was agonizing. Nick made a mistake all those years ago by seducing a Roma girl (he’s originally from Romania- his name used to be Nicolae Antonescu) and then not marrying her later. I’ve read a few books where the Roms were main or secondary characters, loved most of them and this book isn’t any different. The Roms have a superstitious way with magic, curses and evil. Nick was born a nobleman’s son so marrying the girl was out of question. I can guess his arrogant ways, as any nobleman of the 17th century would be, be it London or Romania. And so he was cursed by the girl’s grandmother, a Romany witch. He would live forever, repent his arrogant, selfish ways forever... the curse that took residence in him would hunger always, not for blood but for soul of a good individual and Nick would have to feed this thing over and over again… forever. Nick would be beautiful beyond words, a very handsome façade for such grave evil which would pave his ways for hunting down his victims. He won’t age beyond his 34 yrs. or die from any wounds or disease or anything… Only and only the girl of another Rom can save him in the end. So, Nick’s been living and doing whatever it needs to survive. Not much of his living during the centuries was given so I can only guess he’s travelled around and so on, changing names, places etc. Finally, he’s now in San Francisco and living with is current victim come lover. Essentially, his victims aren’t the most beautiful of women because beauty isn’t what he looks for. He has the power of mind manipulation, among other things. He can manipulate them in doing anything he wants and those women become some walking zombies, who just want to make him happy leaving everything in their lives behind. For me, it was a really suffocating thing to read. I mean none of those women had ‘a choice’, if you ask me. I don’t really know what happened to Nick’s other victims because as I far as I could get, as he drains away their soul, they begin to lose weight and fade away in a sense. This was a question that bugged me, among many others. But his latest one, with whom he’s been living with for the last 15 or so years, ends up in an utter tragedy. The woman finally got conscious of what’s been happening and shots him badly, she committing suicide. Nick ends up in the ICU, the doctors are all in accord that he won’t live. This is where Regina comes in.
Fallen Angel by Chris Rahn
I was reeling from the implications of Nick’s living when Regina came as a breath of fresh air. She is an intern and though over worked, she’s very nice and caring towards her patients. Regina loves her job, but even then, sometimes, some aspects of it pain her, like that young cancer patient Bobby Allen. Sometimes she thinks she’s no good in being a doctor since she can’t always separate her emotions from her job. I can see where this coming from. Back when I was deciding my career, I thought I’d train to become a doctor. Later I just knew I can’t since I’m just too emotional for this job. Even after watching Titanic for gazillions of times in the last 13 yrs, I still cry. But I digress... So I was sympathizing with Regina. The scenes with Bobby Allen were really heart-wrenching, life can be so very unfair sometimes. Regina tries her best to put on a smile but it becomes harder by day, when she’s so tired and drained out from her internship and shifts and shifts. But she’s got a good friend in Craig or a few others who are working with her. Regina also has her Hungarian maternal grandmother, who lives close by. I was a bit lost to find that even though there were mentions of Regina’s family, we never get to meet any of them. The recent gunshot victim is taking everyone’s attentions with his speedy and very unnatural recovery. Regina isn’t immune to the gossip, not really when the nurses say he’s very good looking. Craig tells her more about this mysterious victim, about whom the Police can’t find much information. One day, Regina goes to visit this mysterious man. Her first visit to Nick was undeniably meaningful because Nick could totally feel Regina and the sweetness of her soul. Yes, he was very lucid and recovering well but knew he’d have to find a way to move on before the doctors take more interest in him than they’re already doing. He instigates Regina to impulsively touch his hands, which Regina finds electrifying, literally! She can’t interpret the feeling it gave her. And then when she was leaving, turning back, Regina finds Nick staring right at her with his piercing black eyes. This incident leaves Regina shaken, but when she turns back again, he’s again sleeping as if that incident never took place. Afterwards, Nick keeps planning his move to get Regina, no matter how because he has already decided on his next victim.

That day, Regina meets the sister of Nick’s deceased lover. She’s already very intrigued with Nick’s history, her ramblings on her relationship with Nick, along with her dead sister, with Nick’s age and all… Regina is left pretty confused and shocked, to say the least. The woman thrusts a letter in her hand, asking her to give it to Nick. Regina goes to visit Nick again but Nick’s charming words and behavior (with healthy dose of mind manipulation), she totally forgets about the letter. The next day, Nick leaves the hospital without any trace at all. Regina, meanwhile, doesn’t understand why she keeps forgetting things or feels kind of blank when she talks to Nick. Note that this happens over and over again in the story, which Regina interprets as Nick’s charm and undeniable sexual magnetism which can only leave a woman acting as a blathering idiot. This didn’t give me good feelings, to say the least because I knew what was happening and what Nick was doing to Regina. Anyway, even though Regina can’t find Nick, he calls her and asks for a meeting. Regina is quite flabbergasted by his call. What she didn’t know that Nick has already sold the condo he shared with his previous lover (yes, he’s filthy rich) and now has taken an apartment where Regina herself lives; something close by the hospital and very Spartan in decoration. But what would Nick do with decorations? Money means nothing to his existence. It’s Regina he wants and it’s Regina he will have. Needless to say, Regina knows nothing of Nick’s plan; she’s only basking in the fact that a guy so handsome and charming as Nick is interested in her. Regina thinks she’s too average, which Nick certainly doesn’t! He is just glad that she would serve both purposes for him, that sex would be great since he’s also attracted to her physically. So they have a date in a posh Italian restaurant. Nick waits for her in the hospital. Regina still feels her blank moments.

Craig isn’t happy about the whole thing. Now, I was scared that a love triangle is forming because it was very apparent that he wants Regina too. But comparing with Nick, Craig pales considerably. He’s the typical nice, average guy, whereas Nick is the big, bad wolf. His sexy bad boy aura appeals to Regina like any other woman (again, with healthy dose of Nick’s secret manipulation). Regina once takes Craig to meet her grandmother, who approves of him. But Regina doesn’t think it’ll work out between her and Craig. And then there’s Nick, who’s bearing down on her senses like no other ever had. Once or twice, they kiss- Regina has her blank moments, since the kisses give Nick his sustenance. With every kiss, he’s leeching away a bit of Regina’s soul. Nick knows he has to slow down. He knows how to do it, how to leech in a way so that his victims couldn’t figure out about it until the last moment. But with Regina, he feels greedy. He just wants to take her, take from her but Nick knows what will happen if he does that and the feelings leave him unsettled. Another reason for Nick’s pursuit (if you can call it that) of Regina was the fact that her grandmother is a Hungarian (and a Rom, too) and superstitious. Regina blurts out the clap-trap her grandmother told her about the visions and that her grandmother thinks like her Regina has it too. Regina doesn’t believe it of course but Nick understood the implications of it. He knows that those ‘clap-traps’ aren’t clap-traps at all. He thinks Regina just might be the answer to his prayers; the freedom from his centuries old imprisonment. This didn’t give me good feelings as well. I already said for the most part of the book I felt uneasy. Nick’s pursuit of Regina came off as pretty unsettling to me. He had motives; selfish, even cruel ones at that. Motives Regina had NO IDEAS about whatsoever. How can I possibly feel anything positive towards this guy? I was actually rooting for Craig at this point, even though I knew it’ll never be.
Thief of Souls

As the story progresses, Craig and Regina’s friendship cools down after the confrontation he and Nick shared. Craig is definitely hurt but knows he can’t do anything about it. He doesn’t trust Nick (with good reasons) and just doesn’t want to see Regina heartbroken. It gets worse soon afterwards. In between, we get to know what happened to Nick centuries ago, the whole backstory from one of his legions of nightmares. One day, a very sick Bobby Allen comes in again and Regina couldn’t take it in. She finds some closet in the hospital and cries… Somehow Nick finds her there, as if he knew she needed him (you can guess if he did or not! Lol). Nick persuades her to go home with him. Before this, he left off sex, even though Regina wanted it (just keep in mind that Nick’s power of soul leeching has this influence over his victims… so I wasn’t sure if Regina really wanted sex or it was Nick’s manipulation). This time there was no going back. After they kiss, Regina keeps feeling the usual coldness. She has no idea that this is happening due to Nick. After a hot shower and more kisses, they end up having sex. This leaves both in a daze; Regina, for usual mind-numbing sex she’s never had before but for Nick, there’s something more. He was scared that he would be greedy where Regina is concerned; this experience only makes it real. Nick had his sustenance through sex but he knows it’ll prove to be really bad for her and he’ll lose her before time; a feeling that leaves him apprehensive. I know it sounds confusing... the essence was that, with Regina Nick feels totally different; he feels things within that he thought are long dead and buried and it’s leaving him scared out of his wits. Regina keeps missing work, which concerns Craig and upon inspection, he finds Nick in Regina’s apartment. This harms their friendship really bad. Then Nick and Regina fight over Craig. Nick wanted Regina all to himself, for his reasons but is a bit surprised to find that she can argue with him after his spells. Remember the living zombie thing? Regina is proving to be different in this regard. But Nick has his ideas, which has something to do with her Romany ancestry. After the fight, Nick leaves and doesn’t come to her for a few days. But he can’t stay away from her and the crescent scar on his right cheek keeps reminding him of his ‘duty’; it throbs and pains, hurts like hell. Nick, no matter what he tries, can’t forget what he’s supposed to be doing. So he returns. On the other hand, Regina is totally in a vacant state whenever Nick isn’t around and it leaves her more confused. She craves Nick like she’s addicted to him. She feels something is up but can’t put a finger in it. Meanwhile, Bobby Allen dies and Regina is very astounded to find that she feels nothing at all about this. She just doesn’t know what’s wrong with her.

One day, Regina’s grandmother calls asking her to visit. The woman is worried about Regina and already knows about Nick. They do and the visit doesn’t go well. Regina’s grandmother instantly realizes the evil that dwells inside Nick and is scared as hell for her granddaughter. But Regina is very confused about this unbidden hostility that Nick and her grandmother display towards each-other. She is annoyed at her grandmother for being rude to Nick and leaves the place. At this point, knowing that Regina has no idea what’s happening, I was feeling a bit pissed at her as well. She does hurt her grandmother with clumsy words. After this the story reaches is climax and glued me totally to the pages. Nick begins feeling that he can’t control Regina the way he wants to or he knows he can. Maybe it’s because, somewhere inside, he doesn’t want to do that to her. He just doesn’t want to lose her. Regina has already said ILU to him, which left me a bit suspicious; was it real or was it the influence of his spell? Anyway, Regina does notice that Nick’s scar of the check is giving him troubles but she doesn’t know it’s a sign of displeasure from the thing that duels inside him. She wants to help, but he won’t let her. After much trouble, confusion and Nick’s very vague words of ‘not wanting to hurt her’, one morning, Regina just flees, lying to him about her long shift. Right now, she’s very confused about the whole thing and needed some space. She knows Nick would find her sooner or later as he can sense her. Her grandmother gives her the direction of some other family’s yacht which she’s been looking after for them. When Nick awakes, he immediately finds Regina out of his radar and comprehends what she has done. He scares her grandmother into confessing, not that she had to confess anything because Nick sensed her thoughts and found the directions anyway. The confrontation was eerie, giving us a good idea of what Nick’s been living with.

At the same time, Regina was inside the yacht waiting for Nick. She’s scared but still, she can’t help but want Nick. Here, I was kinda feeling for Nick too. I could feel his dilemma (and Regina’s for that matter), it was sad to say the least. I didn’t care anymore if their attraction towards each-other was Nick’s spell or not. I knew he wanted out and it was such a crazy situation overall but in the end, what I focused on was Nick’s longing for Regina, the obsession he had over her. At this point, I knew it has crossed the line of a victim and her hunter; it was something much more complex. When Nick comes to her, Regina wants answers. And she doesn’t have to wait for long... that last confrontation scene was spooky, gave me chills and I cried because it felt so bleak and dark, just before things were resolved. You just HAVE TO read to find out the whole essence of it. I’ve already mentioned in my review of Lord of Always that I really enjoy how CW works on creating a very chilling environment; she worked her magic here too. I loved how the book ended. The epilogue left me with a sigh and I wanted more, MORE! But I had some more questions, like we never get to see Nick directly telling Regina about his past... it was still somewhat vague even when the story ended. Did Nick ever tell her what he did, how he survived or how long it has really been for him? I needed to know Regina’s reactions about all these. 4.5 stars. All I can say that I’m eagerly looking forward to more CW books in the future!

I got Thief of Souls for free from smashwords this month on smashword’s sitewide promotion which ended on March 10, 2012.

PS: Now that I’ve read the book, I can see why the cover is so meaningful!

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Punya
I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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