Maggie Shayne introduced me to vampire romances: one of her Twilight novellas was in an anthology of darker love stories, and I was intrigued by the idea, never having come across vampires outside horror (which I don't read) before. This collection houses the first three of her Twilight series: Phantasies, Memories and Illusions. Brief reviews of each first.
Twilight Phantasies: This story introduces Eric Marquand, transformed into a vampire just before his date with Madame Guillotine during the French Revolution. He's something of a scientist, and loves working on things to make the life of a vampire easier. He also understands all about the Belladonna anitgen, which the Chosen carry. He has, for years, been linked mentally to Tamara, one of the Chosen, who has been brought up by a DPI operative (DPI being a branch of the FBI set up to hunt down and kill vampires). But Tamara and Eric are irrestibly drawn to each other, despite all the reasons why they shouldn't be together... Can Tamara accept what Eric is? Can she escape the clutches of the DPI to be with him? A gripping and at times heartwrenching story.
In Twilight Memories the story focuses on Roland, Eric's friend, and another vampire, Rhiannon - who is, in fact, the vampire who transformed Roland. Rhiannon has been in love with Roland for centuries, but he never seems to return her interest. He disapproves of her wild, uncontrollable behaviour, which frequently puts her in danger. Rhiannon believes that Roland disapproves of *her*, and her behaviour is mainly aimed at making him notice her. But Roland has sworn never to love again, because of a tragedy in his past. Can Rhiannon get through to him? Can he see the pain his attitude is causing her? Eric and Tamara reappear in this story, along with a familiar DPI agent.
Finally, there is Twilight Illusions, my favourite of the trilogy. Damien, the oldest known vampire, has not made a habit of associating with others of his kind, and as a result he knows nothing of the Chosen. He performs as an illusionist, using his powers to entertain and to select women from whom he can feed - he hypnotises them into believing that they were only dreaming. However, someone is killing off women he's been with... and Shannon is on his trail. What she doesn't realise is that she's one of the Chosen, and Damien is her mentor. Eric Marquand makes a welcome reappearance in this book, helping Damien to come to terms with himself and what he is. Shannon, however, is seriously ill, and before she's even come to terms with her discovery that Damien is a vampire, she has another attack and is close to death. Can Damien save her? And is the price he - and she - would have to pay if he did so worth it?
I enjoyed the trilogy very much, although I have to say that the DPI does get old very fast; it's a major part of the plot in all three stories, and I understand in Shayne's other Twilight books. I'm far more interested in the romances than in seeing the characters have to fend off quasi-FBI agents. That aside, Shayne's writing is good and her plots and characterisation very enjoyable. She's written characters which stayed in my mind for some time after I finished the book, and it's on my 'to read again' shelf.