Scent and Shadow: an Aether Vitalis Novel

Rated 4.60/5 based on 5 reviews
No soulmates. No love triangles. No sparkles.

For college student Amanda Bairns, nothing is more important than finally taking control of her life. But when the sexy, sociopathic vampire Gabriel Chapel forces her to drink his blood, Amanda has four weeks to discover which means more: her freedom and her humanity, or the power Gabriel offers. More

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About Mercy Loomis

Mercy Loomis grew up in a haunted house, and has had quite enough of ghosts for one lifetime, thank you. Though she now lives in a 150-year-old house, it is remarkably ghost-free. (That, or they’re staying on the down-low. She doesn’t care which.)
Mercy finished writing her first vampire novel when she was in middle school, and hasn’t stopped writing about them since. She loves stories about the paranormal because monsters are scary, but less scary than real people. Or at least less depressing.
Mercy graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison one class short of an accidental certificate in Folklore. She credits her love of mythology to her mom reading Greek myths as bedtime stories, and her love of fantastical adventure stories to watching cheesy movies with her dad. Her love of history (and coffee!) is completely her husband’s fault, but she doesn’t know who’s to blame for the fascination with physics.
She guesses that hanging out with Dad while he butchered deer also had an effect on her character, but exactly what effect, she leaves up to the reader.
See what Mercy’s up to and find links to her other work at

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Review by: Brian Williams on Dec. 05, 2011 :
I have two confessions to make before you read this review. The first is that I know the author, Mercy Loomis. The second is that there is nothing that would have induced me to read this book had I not known the author, which would have been my loss, since it is brilliant.

Forget the subject matter or any preconceptions you might have about a "vampire novel" or a "romance novel". This is out-and-out an excellent story which is beautifully told. The characters are wonderfully drawn and the entire story is utterly compelling. Normally I don't find it is easy to read e-books compared to printed books, but I couldn't put this one down, leading to far too many late nights and missed hours of sleep.

If you want to know more of what "Scent and Shadow" is about read the other reviews; there's no point in my repeating what they've already said. If you want to know whether you should buy this book, the answer is yes.
(reviewed 41 days after purchase)

Review by: Georgeanna B. on Dec. 02, 2011 :
I totally enjoyed this book! It's refreshingly different from any of the paranormal stuff I've been reading. I will positively be looking for more books by Mercy Loomis!
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: ReeseLives on Nov. 21, 2011 :
When describing what I like about this story, it's hard to know where to start. The protagonist, Gabriel, is as good a place as any.

Yep, that's right, protagonist. Not hero. I'm no connoisseur of vampire stories, but I know what I like and what I don't. I like Gabriel. What appeals to me is Gabriel's honesty with his protege, Amanda. He doesn't hide anything from her...his nature, his motives, his intentions...and what Amanda is in for if she takes what he is offering. Those looking for another teen heartthrob story with vampiric trappings should look elsewhere. Those looking for a story about an unapologetic and psychopathic life-eater have found their story.

Although Gabriel is arguably the central protagonist of this story, it wouldn't be complete without Amanda. After Amanda is forcefully brought into a new world, her journey is an enthralling study of human nature. Many of us would say that we'd never succumb to the lure of real power. All I can say after watching Amanda's journey is...OK, believe that if you will, and personally, I don't think real power is quite so easy to deny.

I had to read the story a couple of times to get a solid feel for all the characters and sub-plots therein. There's quite a bit to chew on, and per another review, there are an awful lot of parties interested in Gabriel's latest game. Quite honestly, there are many characters and communities who could easily be fleshed out in stories of their own. While Gabriel is arguably a powerful player in the Aether Vitalis setting, he is still but one player in a complex game on a large board.

In fact, that is the closest thing to a gripe that I have about Scent and Shadow. There is so much going on, with so many players, that at times I find it hard to keep track of. However, it is this same trait of the story that keeps me coming back for more, re-reading this or that paragraph or chapter so I can discover new nuances in the narrative and setting.

My only real regret is that this story isn't yet out in a nice big hardcover edition that I can read and re-read until the binding falls apart!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Jess R. on Nov. 18, 2011 :
College student Amanda Bairns is finally about to take control of her own life. Getting her degree and finally getting out from under her mother’s thumb should mean this is one of the happiest times in her life. But when Gabriel, a friend from school, turns out to be a psychotic vampire intent on making her his newest fledgling, her dreams of the future turn into a nightmare filled with blood, mind control, violent sex, and murder.

With the transformation incomplete, Gabriel promises Amanda one month to choose between the seductive power of vampirism or the frail weakness of being human prey. Four weeks seems like a small enough time to hold onto her humanity, but with each passing day, the new seductive powers she’s discovering, the physical changes, and the blood lust thrumming in her veins all become harder to ignore.

Amanda’s transformation is not their only concern, however, when it becomes apparent that there are outside forces whose interest in Gabriel’s newest fledgling could mean a major shift in power not only in the city of Madison, but in the supernatural community as a whole.

What Worked For Me:

* This book is not what I would call a “traditional” paranormal romance. Instead, it was very dark, and while there were certainly romantic themes on occasion, it also toed the line of a horror story quite well. There was just something about Amanda’s reluctant attraction to Gabriel, her horror and disgust at what he was and what she was becoming, and her struggle against the very real feelings of power and superiority that she was beginning to feel towards other humans, that just made this book impossible for me to put down.
* Gabriel was awesome. A true sociopath, he was incapable of feeling emotions the way humans do, and with the blood lust on top of that, he thrived on the fear and pain of his victims, and enjoyed toying with them — keeping some as “pets” before killing them. Really, I shouldn’t have liked him as a protagonist, because frankly, the guy is scary as hell, but I couldn’t help but enjoy his character.
* I really liked Amanda as well, and the journey her character took was incredible. As Gabriel said, the change to vampirism doesn’t change your personality, and Amanda soon learned some unpleasant truths about herself, such as how addictive it can be to control other people, and how easy it is to think of others as chattel instead of individuals. I think what I liked the most about that was the fact that most people who get their first taste of real power would have the very strong potential to feel the same way, and how frighteningly easy it could truly be to let your humanity go in that sort of situation.
* I. Loved. The ending. Loved it. It was quite unexpected in some ways, but in others, it just fit so perfectly with all of the changes that Amanda had gone through over the course of her time with Gabriel. While certainly not a traditional “Happily Ever After” by any means, it was… right, for this story and really and truly couldn’t have ended any other way.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

* BIG, BIG issue for me here was Gabriel's actions in a particular scene. It's a spoiler, so I can't say what it was, but it crossed the line for me.
* The shifting POV’s could get a little disorienting at times. While they certainly added depth to the story, at times I felt myself a little overwhelmed by the number of main characters. I think I just wanted to focus on Gabriel and Amanda so much that seeing what other characters were up to just wasn’t a high priority for me.
* Not really a “negative” for me, but I was never quite certain why the book was set in 1999 instead of just not specifying a year. There were only two references in the entire story that “dated” the story, and that was a reference to Star Wars: Episode One in the theaters, and a small reference to the whole computers/Y2K thing. It’s possible that the reasoning was mentioned or explained, but if so, it truly didn’t stick with me.

This book was a bit of an adventure for me. You see, it’s not what I would call a “traditional” romance. Instead, it’s more of a horror novel with romantic elements, which I admit threw me off a bit. However, if you approach this story as less of a romance and more of a sexy horror story, I think that you will get the full effect of the novel.

Even though I do tend to prefer traditional romances, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Gabriel was sexy and terrifying, and Amanda was so incredibly real that I couldn’t help but love her. She, as like most people, preferred to think of herself as someone who would never even be tempted to abuse or harm another human being, but as her transformation progressed, she quickly realized the intoxicating abilities of pure, unadulterated power. This, more than the blood and gore, was probably one of the scariest things about this novel — the idea that it doesn’t require a sociopath to start thinking of other humans as beneath you once you get a taste of real power.

While there was one scene that troubled me greatly, the overall story captivated me from the very beginning and wouldn’t let me go. The ending was absolutely fantastic despite being perhaps a bit unexpected, and I would recommend it for any fan vampires who are actually scary rather than sparkly*.

A very solid 4/5 Stars

*For the record, I am a Twihard, so that was not a bashing of Twilight fans lol
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: mrsjrvit on Nov. 13, 2011 : (no rating)
This was my first vampire book; I started it somewhat begrudgingly, expecting it to be filled with meaningless violence and other stereotypical vampire drama. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself swept off my feet by a story that, at it's heart, is ultimately the exact opposite; a genuine exploration of humanity with believable characters and a compelling plot. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to lose themselves, for a few enjoyable hours, in another world. One final note: I rated this story four out of five only because there are a few fairly graphic scenes that are outside my personal comfort zone; they aren't enough to deter my enjoyment of the book, and my guess is that those of you who are into vampire type stories wouldn't hesitate to rate this a five star read.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Jess F. on Nov. 10, 2011 :
4 out of 5 stars! Dark, exotic, and intriguing are just some of the words I would use to describe this unique take on a paranormal novel. Before I read this book I took what this book was called an 'urban paranormal' as to mean 'paranormal romance,' why I don't really know, but I will say if you make that mistake too you still won't be disappointed! I say that because even though this book does NOT romanticize what a vampire is, it DOES talk about the connections Gabriel (the main vampire in the book) has with those he cares for and digs into what it means to be a vampire (based in the world the author has created).

I loved the characters and finding out their back-stories. However, the author bounced around a lot from different characters POVs during the first quarter of the book that it was somewhat hard to find (pinpoint) where the plot was heading. Thankfully though by the middle of the book the plot evens out a bit and you get swept away in the many new twist and turns never quite sure which way the story will lead you. Then the ending just wraps everything up very nicely!! I was very happy about Paul & Cecelia, and I'm curious as to how the new situation between Amanda & Gabriel will work out.

I recommend this for those who like reading the darker type of paranormal books. FYI -- sexual content (hot and steamy) is in this book.

Review By: From Me to You ... Book Reviews
(read more of this review and a few teasers on my blog)
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

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