Of Visions and Secrets

Title: Of Visions and Secrets (Tenebris Book One: An Occult Romance)
Publisher/Author: Kathryn Ann Kingsley
Pages: 260pp
Price: $13.99 / $3.99

Emma Mather will not be deterred. Her twin brother Elliot has disappeared somewhere in the city of Arnsmouth, and she will find him — even if that means all she finds is a body. Nothing can stop her. Not the beautiful singer at the local speakeasy. Not the creepy Investigators for the Church of the Benevolent God. Not the handsome and dangerous (possibly lethal) professor at Arnsmouth University. Not even her own unstable mind, which sees shadows and monsters and conjures voices out of thin air. … But is she really imagining it all? Is there something to the old legends about the Beast of Arnsmouth, after all? … And what has Professor Raphael Saltonstall to do with her brother, the Beast, and the secret societies bent on harnessing the Beast’s powers for themselves …?

Of Visions and Secrets was recommended in a fan group dedicated to romance novels, from light and sweet to dark and dangerous. Kingsley’s Tenebris series definitely falls closer to the dark end of the spectrum, and skirted very close to the edge of my comfort zone. But I adored Emma and I was intrigued by Raphael, so I kept reading — even after I found out exactly what sort of man he was He is absolutely not your typical romance hero; he’s not even really an anti-hero; definitely more of a villain. But I have the distinct impression that will change as the series progresses, and his feelings for Emma intensify.

So, would-be readers, take note: this is a romance grounded in the Cthulhu mythos. That means malefic magic, murder, morally grey characters, monsters, and tentacles. It also means that the heroine is just the sort of person to be drawn to this kind of darkness rather than be repulsed by it; and the hero takes full advantage of that sexually.

Of Visions and Secrets was a tense, sexy, sometimes scary read, and it sucked me right in. Kingsley skillfully ends the story on a partial cliffhanger, ensuring that readers will have to pick up the next book (fortunately, the trilogy is complete, so no waiting!). Highly recommended to fans of dark-themed romances and occult adventures.

[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]