Vaughn presents a gratifying origin story for Ricardo "Rick" de Avila, vampire Master of Denver and partner to the popular werewolf heroine of her Kitty Norville series. Compelled by the vampire Order of Saint Lazarus of the Shadows in Rome, Rick recounts a series of menacing and melancholy stories from the past 500 years of his life spent striving to be a bad vampire and a good man. In the 16th century, Rick, then the living teenage son of a Spanish nobleman, accompanies Francisco V ƒ ¡zquez de Coronado on his search for gold in Mexico and the American west, where a betrayal leads to Rick's transformation into a demon. Repulsed by his condition and ignorant of his newfound powers, Rick traverses the desert territory for centuries, encountering the formidable vampire Mistress Catalina of Mexico City, confronting the devilish Carlos de Luz, and meeting with American gunfighter Doc Holliday. Fans will wish that the short vignettes of Rick's adventures, which take place between books in the Kitty Norville series, received greater development but will nevertheless admire Rick's clever battle tactics and compassion toward his companions. This fun character study works as a standalone but will hold special appeal for series fans
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