Book Review: Dark Heart of the Sun (Dark Destinies Book 1) by S.K. Ryder

Cassidy leaves her fiance and rents a place nearby, not realizing she's sharing her new home with a sexy but dangerous new vampire who becomes enamored with her as he spends time with her. And neither one of them realizes that Cassidy has accidentally led a family of vampire hunters to his doorstep.

Book Review: Dark Heart of the Sun (Dark Destinies Book 1) by S.K. Ryder | reading, books, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, vampires
Title: Dark Heart of the Sun
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 349
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


I don’t read nearly as many vampire books as I used to because I’ve struggled to find any lately that are my kinda books. I decided to give this a chance though, and I ended up enjoying it enough to read the entire trilogy! In many ways it’s your typical paranormal romance. But in other ways, it stands out, and it’s also just a well-written series with a good story.

What I Disliked:

– It did have many of the usual paranormal romance tropes. The sexy, tortured vampire hero who sees himself as a monster. The fierce but kindhearted partner who sees the good in him. A tragic backstory for everyone. (But remember, tropes aren’t inherently bad, it just depends what you like.)

– There was one thing that happened, and in order to continue the series, I had to just pretend it didn’t happen. *SPOILER* Dominic (the love interest) sexually assaulted Cassidy (the protag). She literally begged him to stop and tried to push him away. He did it because he wanted to die, wanted to convince her that he was really a monster and make her hate him enough that she’d drag him out into the sun the next day while he was unconscious, but I don’t care what his reasons were. They don’t excuse his actions. Of course Cassidy forgave him because she understood his reasons afterward, but I could not like him after that, not if I accepted that as canon, which is why I made the decision to just pretend it wasn’t. *END SPOILER* (A non-spoiler summary: trigger warning for sexual assault.)

– I didn’t lower my rating for this, but I really wanted all three main characters to get together in a polyamorous relationship and was disappointed that didn’t happen. It would’ve made so much sense given the situation and made for an awesome enemies-to-lovers romance involving a vampire and a vampire hunter, plus it seemed like the author was hinting at it for a while.

What I Liked:

– Vampires! I didn’t really understand their uniqueness until the second book, but I like the typical sexy-but-dangerous vampire anyway. What I did find unique in this book was the underwater thing. I’d never read about vampires hanging out underwater and feeding from sharks, so that was fun. I guess it would make sense though if they don’t need air. It was kinda funny to me, but also freaking terrifying. Can you imagine vampires just emerging from the water???

– I liked Cassidy. She was smart (most of the time), hardworking, and compassionate toward Dominic. She didn’t fall all over his corny lines just because he was sexy though.

– Cassidy also had possibly the most realistic reactions to terrifying situations that I’ve ever read. It seems most characters just calmly go along with things or turn into total badasses as soon as the shit hits the fan. Cassidy’s reactions felt very natural and believable though.

– Random, but I loved that Dominic called Cassidy’s cat “Little Brother” since they’re both predators.

– The author did a great job of showing the different perspectives. Yeah, Jackson was more of a nuisance than a help, and I was not ok with all his decisions, but I could understand why he was doing most of what he was doing. He was working with a different set of information, and his assumptions made sense based on what he knew. But I could also understand Cassidy’s and Dominic’s frustrations with him.

– As I said, there were some of the typical tropes, but the book wasn’t overly trope-y. The romance progressed in a believable enough way, and although the romance was the focus of this one, bigger things were hinted at for the next two books.


The book didn’t blow me away, but I definitely enjoyed it (aside from that one thing). The writing was good, the vampires were interesting, and the story kept me intrigued!


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  1. Laura Thomas

    Nice to hear you enjoyed it enough to continue with the series. I sometimes read an entire series because of compelling characters, even if I’m not totally wowed by the stories. They don’t always have to be 4 and 5 star reads for me to want to continue.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Agreed, I can definitely still enjoy a series even if it doesn’t blow me away, and I’ve continued plenty of series even after giving one or two of the books 3 or 3.5 stars!

  2. Maggie Tiede

    I remember you tweeting about this one, haha. Glad that you ultimately enjoyed it and I especially love your point about tropes being neither good nor bad, just all about preference. “Love triangle that could be easily solved by a polyamorous relationship” is…not my favorite trope, but the rest of this sounds pretty great!

  3. Greg

    “A tragic backstory for everyone” Gotta have that! But seriously- yeah tropes in and of themselves aren’t bad, it’s what is done with them- totally agree!

    I’m with you on the spoiler, I’d have to mentally ignore that too- ugh.

    The “little brother” reference is cool- we need more cat/ vampire interactions!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol so many tragic backstories. Tropes really do just depend on how they’re done and personal taste though!

      It was yikes. But it’s so hard for me to find good vampire books nowadays that I didn’t want to miss out on the series just for that one thing, you know?

  4. Olivia Roach

    I have noticed that about vampire books. But I am glad you could enjoy this one more and that it was a good trilogy for you! I recently read Dracul which is vampire based, but it’s got that classic writing style and really connecting to those classics. So I think you actually wouldn’t like it because you’re not that keen on classics 😛

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it’s really unfortunate that it was included, but it’s so hard to find vampire books I like, so I didn’t want to give up because of that one thing.

  5. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Glad you enjoyed this. I admit reading the little summary it did seem like it might be a little clichéd but then who is to say that’s a bad thing? Sometimes books that may be a touch predictable are just as enjoyable to read even when they you find you can’t give them the highest rating.

  6. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    Awww the cat little brother moniker was super adorable. And I’m interested to hear Cassidy had really realistic reactions to scary situations. That’s pretty rare! Sounds like a fun read… Vampires feeding from sharks made me giggle. ❤️