Review: Wicked Memories by Nina Bangs

Posted June 13, 2013 by B. in 4 stars, Paranormal Romance, Rating A Tags: , , ,

Wicked Memories
Author: Nina Bangs 
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Castle of Dark Dreams #7
ISBN: #978-0425256077
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley
About the book:
Thorn Mackenzie was a young Viking when he met Sparkle Stardust long ago. She used him and then abandoned him. Over a thousand years later, he has finally found a way to repay her. Employing his power of persuasion, he assembles a team that can create the ultimate fantasies and illusions. The group will work together in Nirvana, the amazing amusement park Thorn has built—right across the street from Sparkle’s Castle of Dark Dreams. To fight back before Thorn bleeds her business dry, Sparkle must hire a spy. 
Kayla Stanley needs extra money, so she reluctantly agrees to do some sneaking and peeking for Sparkle. But as she gets closer to Thorn, she discovers they have a lot more in common than just a need to crush the competition and a willingness to fight dirty. As sexual tension between them mounts, she finds it harder to see the gorgeous Viking as her enemy. But with an evil force working to destroy their city, they may not survive long enough for her to help him overcome his… Wicked Memories.
What B is talking about:
Setting her sights on law school instead of joining the family P.I. business has left Kayla Stanley in need of additional funding for her education. So, when her father’s most “important client” requests her specifically for a job, she figures it’s a good way to keep her family happy a little longer, and earn some much-needed income at the same time. But, working for cosmic troublemaker Sparkle Stardust isn’t what she expected, and taking on the sexy vampire out to destroy what Sparkle’s built will mean an end to life as Kayla knows it—one way or another. 
Living for centuries with nothing but a desire for retribution to keep him warm, Thorn Mackenzie has finally gotten close to his ultimate goal—to take down Sparkle Stardust and the business she holds so dear. Everything about his plan is perfect, except for the stubborn, human investigator she’s hired to help put him out of business first. How can one mortal woman make his heart feel alive after so many years of hatred and denial? Despite all the risks, he’s determined to keep Kayla close, no matter the cost. 
This is the second novel in the Castle of Dark Dreams series I’ve read, and while still very entertaining, Wicked Memories doesn’t have the same frivolity I felt in the previous story, Wicked Whispers. That’s not a bad thing in this case, as it gives the denizens of the Castle a chance to really show what they are capable of when they all work together. Although this is Kayla and Thorn’s story, it’s really Sparkle Stardust who sets the overall tone of the book, which, given my increasing familiarity with Ms. Stardust, isn’t a huge surprise. 
One thing I’ll say about Ms. Bangs is that she is very adept at matching up unlikely pairs. I liked both Kayla and Thorn a great deal, and even though there doesn’t seem to be any way for them to work out, they are actually quite perfect for each other. While Thorn’s name (which he chooses for himself) is remarkably fitting, it could just as easily apply to Kayla’s aptitude for causing her own brand of trouble. As Kayla struggles to accept the knowledge that humans aren’t the only beings to walk the earth, she finds that she can’t resist the one man she’s been hired to ruin. Thanks to her attraction to Thorn, not only is she no longer desperate to escape her assignment, she very much wants to stay. Thorn is likewise altered, his thoughts of revenge becoming muted by the vibrancy Kayla brings to his world. 
Sparkle Stardust and Ganymede’s relationship is the anchor throughout the series, and she is definitely at her best when Ganymede is by her side. Vulnerability simply isn’t a trait I associate with Sparkle, but seeing her perfect veneer start to fray around the edges was refreshing. As was seeing all the nonhumans join in battle to fight off a Norse god looking to relocate to their turf. These characters fight hard and have lots of cool tricks, making for a great, if somewhat easy, fight to the finish. 
Wicked Memories is a great addition to the Castle of Dark Dreams series. Even though it works well as a standalone, a familiarity with the other characters would have made it even more enjoyable. I read snippets and overviews from all the other books, which helped, but I regret not having followed the series from the beginning, and I’m enjoying reading them so much that I’d still like to go back to the very first one. I’m not sure what else Ms. Bangs might have in mind for the residents of the Castle, but I sincerely hope that the note of finality present in the last line of the story is an indication of even more adventures to come, rather than an ending. 
Bs Rating:
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)

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