Series: Immortal Guardians #11
Published by Dianne Duvall on July 27, 2021
Genres: Action, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Dianne Duvall brings readers a novel--set in the "fast-paced" and "totally addictive" world of the Immortal Guardians--that revolves around a vampire... one who has become a friend and trusted ally of the powerful warriors.
Every mortal who works at network headquarters knows that vampires reside below them. They were the first to surrender to the powerful Immortal Guardians who hunt them. And they did so, hoping they can be saved, that the doctors and scientists the Immortal Guardians employ can halt the progressive brain damage that robs all vampires of their sanity. Though curious, Emma never thought she would meet any of the vampires who remain under heavy guard several stories beneath her office. Then mercenaries strike, bombarding the building with heavy artillery. The vampires are freed to join the fray... and Cliff saves her life.
From that moment on, she can't stop thinking about him regardless of the restrictions placed on interactions with vampires. When Emma discovers a way to speak to Cliff at network headquarters, she becomes even more fascinated by him. He's smart, charming, and honorable to his core despite the darkness that lies ahead. And he seems to crave her company as much as she does his. Aware of the eyes that watch them, they keep their encounters innocent, limiting them to those of mere acquaintances. Nevertheless, their attraction grows and she soon falls in love with him even as the madness begins to claim him.
Cliff realizes his future is dark. As one vampire friend after another succumbs to insanity, hope that network doctors will be able to find a cure in time to keep him from meeting the same fate begins to dwindle, leaving him little to look forward to... until he meets Emma. Just speaking to her brings him a happiness and contentment he hasn't experienced since before his transformation. And when they finally find a way to be alone together, everything changes. Emma burrows her way right into his heart and quiets the voices. She sparks dreams of a future with her that strengthen his determination to beat back the madness. But as time passes, the voices grow louder and insanity begins to chip away at him until he fears it will eradicate every part of him she fell in love with.
Will the two of them find a way to defy the odds and find their happily-ever-after? Or will Cliff's descent consume him?
Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardians series is the best paranormal romance series. Every story is a treat filled with action, romance and comradery and Cliff’s Descent is no exception.
Every author dreams of writing a character so beloved that their readers just can’t get enough, and Dianne Duvall succeeded monumentally with Cliff. The readers just can’t get enough of this brave and noble man whose story has been doomed to tragedy from our initial meeting. Just like all the fans of the series, in our 2015 Interview with Dianne we wanted to know how she planned on saving Cliff. Will Cliff’s Descent give us the miracle we seek or just the tragic demise of our beloved Cliff?
While many authors build their paranormal worlds around magic, Dianne built her around science and as we know, the rules of science aren’t as flowing to the whims of the readers as the rules of magic. Of course at this point, if she hit him on the head, had him wake up and say “Auntie Em, I had a dream about Immortals and Vampires with glowing eyes and I was one too…” All the fans would be okay with that.
For those who don’t already know, the Immortal Guardians are men and women who are trained to fight and kill vampires. What gives a them their power is a viral infection which replaces their immune systems and gives them speed and strength and which quickly heals any wounds. It also creates a need for blood to make those repairs and also gives them an “allergy” to the sun. Wow, doesn’t that sound like a vamnpire? Exactly! When someone with with advanced DNA is infected (gifted ones), they become an Immortal and they are trained to protect humanity because when an average human is infected, they become a vampire. Vampires have the same strength and speed as an Immortal but their normal DNA does not protect them from the madness which will deteriorate their brains turning these average men and women into sadistic killers.
It has been several years since Cliff has joined the Immortals and their network of scientists to help find a cure for the virus, or at least help stop the madness which consumes the vampires. But even with the healing help of the Immortals, the voices in Cliff’s head have been growing louder and more violent with each novel.
The Immortals with healing ability have been taking Cliff into the sunshine, healing the skin damage as he basks in the light which gives him a reprieve from the voices. Bastian Newcomb, an Immoral who is like a brother to Cliff, has been taking him hunting each night which gives Cliff an outlet for the violence which is brain is demanding.
Yet more than just the sun and the fighting has been helping Cliff hold off his descent into madness. It is the affection of a quiet, young woman named Emma. Emma and Cliff met the night the mercenaries infiltrated the network headquarters when Emma and her co-workers needed help evacuating. Cliff and the other vampires who were working with the scientists proved themselves as trustworthy by helping the human employees escape while the Immortals fought off the mercenaries. After that, Cliff was no longer kept locked in his room and was given more freedom inside the network headquarters allowing Cliff to have lunch with Emma. This was the first sense of normal Cliff had in three years since he joined the Immortals. Even the voices in his head couldn’t work up a desire for violence in the presence of Emma. As their relationship grew, Cliff realizes that there is little chance of finding a cure for him before it is too late and his life is doomed to tragedy and tries to pull away from Emma before he can hurt her in a psychotic break. But Emma is just as determined to hold onto the man she has come to love, vampire or not, and she will risk her safety to give Cliff as much happiness as possible in the time they have left.
And just like the Immortals in the story, we readers have feared that time was running out for Cliff, that he could no longer hold on against the voices screaming in his head and his part in the series will soon end.
So is this story Cliff’s swan song as we watch the man we have grown to love and admire sink into insanity? As if we didn’t already love Cliff, seeing the world through his eyes and knowing how desperately he fights the madness trying to consume him so that he can spend time with Emma and with the friends he made among the Immortals makes us even more determined for Dianne to find a way to save our Cliff from impending doom.
Emma didn’t move.
Cliff was here. In her home. What the hell had happened?
Her thoughts raced around and around in her head, scrambling for purchase.
Had he escaped? How the hell could he have escaped? There are so much security at the network! So many guards!
But hadn’t Sebastien Newcome successfully plowed his way through security two or three years ago?
Yes. And rumor claimed Mr. Reordon still had it in for him. Some said Reordon had even gone so far as to call for Bastien’s execution after that.
Oh crap. Reordon.
The head of the East Coast division of the network would already be assembling special-ops teams to search for Cliff. He might even have Immortal Guardians out looking for him. And while she knew Bastien wouldn’t harm his vampire friend, the others would. They might even kill Cliff on sight.
“Oh shit,” she whispered again. When she glanced down at her crimson-stained hands, a little shudder shook her. Racing over to the kitchen sink, she washed off the blood. She didn’t take time to dry her hands afterward. She just wiped them on her pants as she ran to her bedroom, her bare feet barely making a sound.
Flipping on the lights, she dove for her closet and yanked out an oversized duffle bag. Tipping it upside down, she shook it hard. Skeins of yarn, long bamboo needles, and round plastic looms tumbled out, left-over supplies from then Cynthia had gone on a crafting kick and tried to teach Emma how to knit.
Emma shoved it all aide and tossed the bag on the bed.
She was darting back and forth from her dresser to the bed, stuffing clothing into the bag, when the bathroom door opened. Emma glanced toward the hallway.
Cliff stepped out, his big body bare save for a white towel wrapped around his hips. Broad shoulders, a muscled chest, and washboard abs gleamed with a hint of moisture left behind from his shower. Little beads of water clung to the ends of some of his dreadlocks.
Though she’d love to take the time to admire every delectable inch of him, Emma only looked long enough to determine he bore no injuries before she went back to packing.
“I have a shirt that will fit you.” Sometimes she slept in large men’s T-shirts. “But you’ll have to wear the pants you came in.”
He said nothing for a long moment. “Okay.”
Delving back into her closet, she drew out the heavy lockbox. “Keys, keys, keys,” she whispered absently as she dropped it beside the bag on the bed. Where the hell had she put them?
Right. The kitchen.
Hurrying past Cliff and into the kitchen, she yanked open the junk drawer and retrieved the little ring of keys. She swung by the coatrack bench to retrieve the 9mm. Best to keep it handy since she had no idea when network soldiers might arrive and she was not going to let them shoot him. Then Emma headed back to the bedroom.
Cliff still stood in the hallway outside the bathroom. Her bare arm brushed his as she swept past him. But she was too rattled to relish the brief skin-on-skin contact.
“How long do you think we have?” she asked, setting the gun on the bed.
“A couple of hours?” he said, the words ending on an up note as if he wasn’t certain.
A couple of hours. “That’s more than I would’ve thought.” Frowning, she glanced over at him as she unlocked and opened the small safe. “Why aren’t you putting your pants back on?” Inside lay a stack of important documents; two exterior hard drives with backups of all her don’t-want-to-lose computer files, family photos, and videos; some keepsakes; and an envelope full of cash.
She had thought her parents paranoid for recommending she keep the last on hand but was glad now she had done it to pacify them.
“Emma,” he said softly.
“What?” She responded absently. Where could they go? Where could they go that would make it harder for the network to find them?
It would have to be someplace remote. Out of the country. With Cliff’s speed, he could get them across borders without needing passports. So that was a plus because she doubted he had one, and she didn’t want to use hers in case Reordon could track it.
Maybe they could lose themselves in South America.
“What are you doing?”
She looked at him. “Packing.” The amber glow in his eyes had diminished a bit. And now that he’d washed off the blood, he looked healthy and perfect and so damned lovable. “Right. Sorry.” Yanking open another dresser drawer, she drew out a green shirt in a men’s size large and tossed it to him. “Here.”
He caught it easily but made no move to don it.
“I don’t think we should risk taking the time to wash your pants.” She tucked the cash and hard drives into the bag, then added the laptop from her corner desk.
“What exactly do you think has happened?” he asked, his voice cautious and quiet.
Something in it made her pause. Turning, she stared at him. “You escaped,” she said. “And I don’t think it’s going to take the network two hours to send teams out looking for you, Cliff, so we need to hurry. Come on. Get dressed.”
Clothing. Money. Laptop, Hard drives. Phone.
Wait. Should she take her phone? Could the network track her that way?
Maybe leave the phone.
What else, what else, what else?
The green shirt clutched in one fist, Cliff moved to stand before her, so close she could smell the soap he used when he showered and feel the heat from his body.
Cliff was six feet tall or thereabouts. Emma was five-five, so she had to tilt her head back to look up at him.
“And now you’re packing?”
“To come away with me?”
His eyes flashed bright amber. “You would do that? You would leave everything behind and just…run away with me?”
“Of course I would.” Reaching up, she cupped his strong jaw in one hand and stroked the stubble it bore. How often had she dreamed of touching him like this? “I don’t know how long we’ll be able to elude them, but–“
He covered her hand with one of his and shifted it so he could press a kiss to her palm.
The tender gesture made her fall silent, her heart aching. How she loved him. Sadie was right. Whatever ugliness lay ahead was worth every minute she could spend with him.
“The network won’t be hunting me,” he told her, his voice gentle.