Tara made one innocent mistake and now a dark fate awaits her. On her deathbed, Tara's mother made Tara promise to go to her Native American grandmother in New Mexico, who might be able to free her from what the future now holds. On her way there, the bus Tara is traveling on breaks down at a seedy tavern where Jake Rider and his biker buddies have stopped for a drink. The moment she lays eyes on Jake, Tara's psychic powers reveal that her destiny is inextricably linked with his. When they are set upon by creatures of the night, Tara must place her fate in Jake's hands, but when the darkness begins to take her, will Jake be able to get her to New Mexico in time to save her life?
Make It Last Forever is a side-story in the Vampire Huntress Legends series. I'm not terribly familiar with L. A. Banks' work, but based on this novella, I would say that the series leans more toward urban fantasy than paranormal romance for a couple of reasons. First, even though the setting is completely rural, it had a much harder, edgier feel to it than other paranormal romances I've read. Second, by the RWA's definition, romance should have an HEA, but this story had a very bittersweet ending which left me feeling rather sad and unsatisfied.
I really liked the heroine, Tara. She is very sweet and has an air of innocence in spite of being on her way to transitioning into a vampire. Tara is a brave soul with a lot of self-control, refusing to feed from Rider and turn him into a vampire too even when she is dying. She was the one bright spot in an otherwise rather dark tale, but I wish that a little more of her background had been explained.
Rider was not exactly the typical romantic hero. To say that he is a diamond in the rough would probably be an understatement. In the beginning, he is described as somewhat scruffy and unkempt, but I guess he cleaned up pretty well. He is also into the hard living biker lifestyle, doing a lot of drinking, smoking and womanizing. In these respects, Rider just wasn't the sexy hero that I would normally expect. However, Tara calls him "man with a good heart," and that was definitely true. He protected Tara and treated her with tenderness. I loved when he went out and bought all sorts of feminine things for her even though he didn't really know what women needed, and it was great how he kept his promise to her in the end.
The scene where Rider washed Tara's hair was a lovely combination of sweetness and sensuousness. Even though the love scenes lacked that little extra bit of detail that would have really made them emotionally spark for me, they still conveyed a certain intensity of feeling. Somehow, in spite of the brevity of the story both in length and time-frame, the author managed to made me believe that Tara and Rider had fallen in love which often doesn't happen in a novella and was also why the ending was so depressing for me. I have to give the author kudos for writing an inter-racial romance between a white hero and a heroine who was half-Black/half-Indian. I've never read this combination in an I/R romance before, and it was set in the 1970's South which made it all the more interesting. Another thing that I loved about Rider is that he always saw Tara as a beautiful woman and not just the color of her skin.
Make It Last Forever falls in between books 3 and 4 of the Vampire Huntress Legends, and was meant to tell the back-story of Jake Rider, who apparently is a prominent character in the series, and how he became a Guardian. I normally don't read series books out of order, but after doing a bit of research on the Vampire Huntress Legends, I can't say that it jumped out at me as a series that I knew for certain I would enjoy. Since I had never read L. A. Banks before either, I decided to take this as an opportunity to test out her writing skills and the series. Make It Last Forever stood pretty well on it's own, but it might have been helpful if I had read the other books first to get a better understanding of the world building and maybe know a little more about Rider and the other characters whose names were dropped.
Overall, I found Ms. Banks' writing style to be pretty solid. The plot was tight for such a short story, and other than it being a little narrative-heavy in places, it certainly engaged my attention which is why I was able to give it 4 stars. Normally, when I give a new-to-me author this high of a rating, it is a given that I will read more of their work at some point, but with Ms. Banks, I will have to give it some thought first. I wouldn't necessarily be averse to reading another of her stories, but I'm just not entirely sure that the dark, edgy tone of her writing is quite to my taste, nor do I know if my tender heart can take another melancholy ending like this one had. However, I can't deny that there was something rather enthralling about her storytelling which at the moment, leaves me on the fence, so I may pick up another of her books in the future after some careful consideration. Make It Last Forever can be found in the anthology Stroke of Midnight.
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