For years, artist, Jose Ciponte has dreamed of rescuing a beautiful woman from the horrific dark creatures of the night, but her face is always obscured in shadow except for her eyes. One night, while he paints a mural, the demons descend, leaving him running for his life, but not before he hears a woman scream. He saves the woman by pulling her onto the back of his motorcycle and riding off into the night, not stopping until he reaches his grandfather's home. Once there, he looks into the woman's eyes, and knows instantly that she is the one from his dreams.
Juanita has shared the same dreams about a masked savior who rescues her from the horrible creatures, so when Jake saves her, she also knows he's the one. She inexplicably trusts him like no other man she has ever met. Together they share a day filled with tenderness and passion, but the demons lurk in the darkness waiting to strike. Little do Jose and Jaunita know that they each have been chosen to act as Guardians for the Vampire Huntress and each must fulfill their destiny before they can truly be together.
Ride the Night Wind is another short side-story in the Vampire Huntress Legends. It gives the backstory of Guardians Jose and Juanita who are apparently main characters in the series. I don't really know anything more about this couple besides what was imparted in this story, because I haven't read any of the main books in the Vampire Huntress Legends. I almost never read series books out of order, but I can't say that this series stood out to me as one that I knew I would like for certain, and after reading Make It Last Forever, another backstory novella, I just didn't know if I could take such sad endings. As a result, I have yet to try the main part of the series.
Much like with Make It Last Forever, I did enjoy Ride the Night Wind right up until the end. L. A. Banks created two likable characters in Jose and Juanita. I could very much relate to their dreams of becoming an artist and business woman respectively, but having no one who understood or supported those dreams until they met each other. They both were also from single-parent households in poor neighborhoods and had controlling mothers who thought the worst of them, even though they were trying their best. Jose was kind of into the gang-banging scene but had managed to use his art to avoid getting into any real trouble. He had the heart and body of a warrior with a more sensitive side underneath. He had been dreaming of a beautiful woman whose face was hidden in shadows except for her eyes, so when he saved Juanita from an demon attack, he immediately knew she was the one. Juanita was a responsible young woman who took care of her little brother and the household while her mother worked, and all she wanted was to have a "normal" life like other girls her age. Unfortunately, that was not to be. She too had dreams for years of a man who saves her from horrific creatures, but whose face is obscured by a motorcycle helmet, so when Jose rescues her, she knows he's the one.
Normally, I'm not a fan of quick hook-ups like what occurred in this story, but this time I was completely convinced that Jose and Juanita were meant for one another and that they were indeed falling in love even though the story takes place in only about a day. I think having them both dreaming of one another before meeting helped that along, but Ms. Banks also managed to imbue their relationship with tenderness and a deep sense of urgency and longing. They just can't seem to get enough of each other, and the love scenes were really intense and beautiful. That's why just like with Make It Last Forever, the ending of this story was so hard to take. I will admit that it was a little happier than the other novella, because unlike Jake Rider, the hero of that story, and the love of his life, Jose and Juanita are together at the end of Ride the Night Wind with the implication that it is for good this time. However, between the final chapter and the epilogue, Jose and Juanita have been separated for nearly two decades as they each played their roles as Guardians and both have taken other lovers during that time. So, it still broke my heart to have them apart for such an extended period before finally finding each other again.
Ride the Night Wind stood fairly well on its own without me having prior knowledge of the Vampire Huntress Legends, although I have to admit that the epilogue probably would have made more sense if I had known more about the world building and what had taken place thus far in the series. Jake Rider is mentioned throughout the story and shows up as a secondary character in the epilogue. If memory serves, this novella also takes place in the same small Native American community, with one or two of the same characters, from Make It Last Forever. In spite of another unsatisfying ending, I can't deny that the late L. A. Banks' writing is pretty solid and her stories have a certain dark appeal. I'm slowly becoming more interested in the series as a whole and might be persuaded to give it a try. I'm still a little uncertain though, because in spite of knowing that the series is urban fantasy rather than paranormal romance, Ms. Banks definitely has a knack for the romantic side of the story. With that in mind, I'm not sure if I can take more unhappiness if she dishes it up as liberally as she has in these two short stories. Ride the Night Wind is found in the anthology Love at First Bite.
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