Synopsis: New York, 1799: the future looks bright for the charming young book dealer William Lacy, until a raucous night of drinking lands him in shackles. He narrowly avoids the brutal prison system thanks to his mother, who negotiates with the judge to secure him a five year apprenticeship in lieu of a prison sentence. And so William finds himself in a carriage bound for the remote woods upstate, where he'll spend the next years of his life learning a new trade under some old master.
When he first sees Merrick, William thinks he's been dropped into a medieval horror story. Tall and gruff, dressed in a hooded robe that completely conceals his features, and riding a black mare, Merrick might as well be the Grim Reaper.
But appearances are deceiving. An uncannily skilled apothecary and healer, Merrick proves to be a generous host and a gentle teacher, and William soon finds himself surprisingly comfortable in his new surroundings. Yet troubling mysteries abound: Why does Merrick never show his face or hands? Why do his movements seem so young and sure beneath his robes? What lies within the cave behind the stone cottage?
Something unnatural is afoot. But most alarming by far is William's own reaction to his new master. For Merrick's strange charms are bewitching enough by day; but by night, in the darkness of the room and the bed they share, William finds himself entirely overwhelmed by desires he never imagined...
Review: Wasn't sure what to expect from this, but it was surprisingly good. The name drew me in. Merrick is the mysterious man with a knowledge of herbs and healing. William is stuck in his service due to his own bad judgment and a conviction for wrongdoing he actually had nothing to do with. Merrick at first seems old, but never shows his face. In private, he moves like a much younger man. William battles his strange attraction to the other man throughout the book, deeming them unnatural. It's actually comical because it's so obvious Merrick is attracted to him. It's unclear why he restrains it, but the description gives enough away that we can figure it out. Merrick is no normal human. I like this interpretation of vampires. It's a bit different. It doesn't seem they live quite as long, but then again maybe they do and we just haven't been told that yet. When they finally get together and then part, it's a bit maddening. Luckily, we still get the HEA