From the blurb on the back, The Darkest Heart sounds like everything I love in a book: dark, historical, paranormal, erotic. But it didn't quite hit the mark, for a few reasons.
The story features Senna, a girl who has used her wits to stay alive on the streets. Now she has devised a con that she thinks will find her a more permanent home. She sends a letter to the Countess Lazlaric, pretending to be a poor relation in need of home. And it works. Of course, Senna has no idea that the Countess is a vampire who plans to use her as a broodmare to extend the family line. The Countess pushes her son Charles on Senna, leaving the young woman very little choice in the matter: succumb or head back to the streets.
In the meantime, Nicolai is working to ruin the Countess' plan. He is her son too, but unlike Charles, he is a vampire. His mother turned him years ago and he has never forgiven her. So he figures he'll make her miserable by taking Senna for his own. And he takes his sweet time. The book is practically halfway over before his seduction moves beyond nibbles on her ear. And then, it's like going from drought to flood... and there's sex at every turn. But here's the thing: I don't see how Senna developed feelings for Nicolai. I'm not talking about sexual attraction, but feelings. They have sex in her sleep. A lot. They don't talk or spend any kind of time together when he's not trying to get her pregnant. Sure, the erotic pull is there, but it's hard for me to really get invested in them when they only have sex between them... no matter how good the sex is.
There's also some world building that kind of tripped me up. Out of nowhere, there is a rival vampire line who is Nicolai's arch-enemy. Suddenly everyone's a vampire. Well, everyone except Senna. And when all is said and done, I'm left wondering, How did we get here? Making things infinitely worse for me, the ending is a cliffhanger. There is not even a resolution. Grrr. It wasn't terrible, but I doubt I'll read the sequel. 3 stars.