Dark Waltz (A Praestani Novel) (Volume 1)

Dark Waltz  - A.M. Hargrove

Earth was decimated in 2012 when the human population was annihilated by a virulent form of small pox. Liasare Davidson and her brother, Tommy were evacuated to the Planet Vesturion where they’ve lived since. It’s the year 2030 and Tommy, who returned to Earth for an assignment, hasn’t been heard from in three months.


Liasare Davidson and her older brother, Tommy, were extremely close so while it was pretty unrealistic for her to be returning to Earth alone to search for him, her motivations were understandable. Everyone around her on the Vesturion planet was stonewalling her so Liasare enlisted the help of a close friend (he was in love with her, she not with him) to help transport her back to Earth. She had not returned since she and Tommy were evacuated 18 years ago, was completely unprepared for what she faced when she arrived and quickly got into trouble, setting up her inevitable encounter with Jurek.


It’s apparent from their first meeting that Liasare, who is traveling under an alias (real name is Sarah St. Davis), and Jurek have an unexplained connection and attraction. He rescues her on several occasions from the Xanthians, a brutal and foul alien species who have pretty much taken control of the planet. Jurek and his team are attempting to help other planets prepare for a power play by the Xanthians to control the universe. He isn’t what he seems either but it’s clear he’s one of the good guys.


The arising conflict between the dark and the light nations is pretty exciting. It soon becomes clear that there are more dark forces at play as they discover some extraordinary circumstances on Earth. It might not be plausible to have developed the technology to the extent we see in the story by the year 2030, but I was willing to accept it given the emergence of so many different species from other planets who may have been more evolved. The action was exciting and unpredictable, even a bit brutal at times, but it really held my interest. The dystopian society left on Earth was pretty dismal but very creative.


What detracted from the story was the relationship between Liasare and Jurek. While she is 27 years old her behavior and dialogue was more fitting of someone still in her teens. I lost count of the TSTL (too stupid to live) moments and her constant use of profanity was just inappropriate. Cussing doesn’t bother me unless it’s just constant and without proper context, which is the case here. Even Jurek commented about it and often. Speaking of him, though honestly provoked to anger by her most of the time, Jurek would lash out and physically attack Liasare. The next moment they would be in full lust with each other. Fortunately, this diminished somewhat once they succumbed to their attraction and behaved more harmoniously.


There are many steamy moments but you’re more than halfway through the book before these two consummate their relationship. By that time, I questioned why they even liked each other.Despite the issues with Jurek and Liasare, I am looking forward to the next story in the series as things are not resolved when this one comes to a close. The excerpt included with my copy was pretty intriguing and I will definitely read the next book. I’m hoping, though, that the relationship between these two progresses to a more mature level and Liasare gets a cleaner vocabulary. She has an important role in the story, as does Jurek, and I’d really like to connect with this couple. It will only happen if the dialogue is more representative of the age of the characters.


(I received an ARC from the publisher.)