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Surrender the Dark (The Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong #BookReview #giveaway
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Surrender the Dark (The Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong #BookReview #giveaway

by August 17, 2017

Tibby Armstrong


Surrender the Dark


The Dark

Book #



Contemporary gay paranormal romance

*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***

When I first choose this book for review, it stood out because gay romance is less prevalent in paranormal (especially vampire stories) than in contemporary romance. What I didn’t count on was how striking the story itself would turn out to be. Tzadkiel and Benjamin are literally mortal enemies, not just by birth but by circumstance as well—they have tried before, and try during the story, to kill each other for real. The opening chapter paints a violent scene of torture, disfiguration, loss, and escape that defines the rest of both main characters’ lives. And when the tables finally turn, Tzadkiel doesn’t soften or relent in his crusade to save his people, no matter how attracted he and Benjamin are to one another.

“Do you want to know how many of your kind I have slain in my time, hunter? Without the assistance of my mora? Do you wish to know your great-great-grandfather’s dying words?”
Tzadkiel let his voice go silky with menace, a smooth pour of honey that spoke of dark deeds and even darker nights. “I know your history. I know every last breath and every last request.”
His rough exhale disturbed Benjamin’s hair. “I know the taste of your blood and its lineage—the flowering of the fruit on the vine. Its slow fermentation and decay.”
Benjamin paled so his bones seemed to visibly shrink under his skin. “I know how you are going to die.”
Tzadkiel curled his fingers against the cold, unforgiving rock and leaned closer to Benjamin’s ear.
“I know how you will taste, and how you will beg for your life.”
Hardened consonants combined in a savage caress.
“I know how you shall smell—of blood and bile—when I tear your throat out.”
He growled with his exhale. “That is my promise.”

Both characters are strong, not just physically, but in spirit and determination. And they are both handicapped in some way, leaving them vulnerable to each other’s physical attacks and verbal barbs.

He pressed questing fingertips to the bruises along his neck. Tzadkiel’s kisses had been a threat and a promise. If the vampire ever did fuck him, Benjamin now had zero doubt the experience very well might kill him. Indeed, it would almost be a shame if it didn’t.
Death by sex, at least with this man, especially in comparison to every other way he might die, seemed a pretty decent way to go.

These two have some of the most virile hate-fuck chemistry I’ve ever read, and the build-up is exquisite. Tzadkiel gets off on power and violence—particularly against this hunter whose family decimated his own and nearly destroyed his entire world—and Ben thrives sexually on feeling shamed and dominated. He thrills in intimate pain and cruelty, and it is all tied up in this vampire king with whom his life has become indelibly intertwined.

“Do you intend to stand out there until dawn, or did you wish to speak with me?” Tzadkiel’s voice, now returned to its dispassionate, icy calm, drifted to Benjamin from the library.
Speaking wasn’t exactly what he’d had in mind . . . Benjamin shook his head. No. He wouldn’t encourage this. He couldn’t afford to, as his earlier interlude with Tzadkiel had shown. There was too much animosity between them to allow passion of any kind free rein.

Because neither trusts the other, which necessitates spending every moment together, the constant exposure humanizes them and softens their ingrained, decades-old animosity. It’s brilliant, really. A story beautifully crafted.

“Your entire personality is like a hand job in a cold shower,” Benjamin said, clearly catching his breath.
Keeping his expression deliberately schooled, not trusting himself to speak, Tzadkiel flipped one palm up in mute demand for an explanation.
Benjamin straightened. “Fucking frustrating.”

This story is so much more than I expected. It walks the line between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The ending was heart-poundingly, breath-takingly beautiful—the perfect tribute to everything these characters sacrificed both throughout their lives and in the course of this story. The emotional journey of the characters is intimately and lovingly spun, with care and elegance and heart. And this Author’s Note at the end sums up how I felt when I finished reading the epilogue:

We all have limitations in life, but they are often the things that ultimately form the foundation for the best parts of ourselves. They make us stronger, more empathetic, or just plain different in a world that is increasingly very much the same. Without minimizing the hardships, this book is about exulting in the magic that results from those differences— both within ourselves and in others— so that we can live life to the fullest in all of its messy, wonderful beauty.

Recommended for readers who enjoy

  • Contemporary paranormal romance
  • Gay romance
  • Heroes with flaws (physical and moral)
  • Enemies-to-lovers trope
  • Breath play
  • Dominance and violence
  • Story worlds where conflict and limitations live in a reasonable imitation of life

This review copy was provided by the Publisher. No compensation was received for this review.

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Surrender the Dark (The Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong #BookReview #giveawayMy star rating: four-half-stars
Surrender the Dark by Tibby Armstrong
Series: The Dark #1
Published by Random House, Loveswept on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Gay Romance, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 263
Format: Audiobook, E-book, Paperback
Source: Publisher
Add it to your To Read shelf: Goodreads

Meet your new paranormal addiction: the mouthwatering brothers of the Dragoumanos line. As a red-hot series begins, a vampire king seduces the supernaturally gifted man hunting him—and the stakes are literally life or death.
Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry. What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion. When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.
After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago. The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now.
Praise for Surrender the Dark
“This close-proximity M/M tale is indeed hot. [Tibby] Armstrong builds a forbidding landscape, encompassing themes of family betrayal and scars masking emotional connection.”Library Journal
“The romance between Benjamin and Tzadkiel is one born of inherent, visceral difference. . . . Readers who enjoy heavy sexual tension and angst will especially like the way their narrative pans out . . . and those who enjoy paranormal world-building will be eager to see where [Tibby Armstrong] takes the series next.”RT Book Reviews
“Top-notch . . . Armstrong is a talented writer, and the world she created is amazing.”—Gay Book Reviews
“[Surrender the Dark] kept me on the edge of my seat.”—The Novel Approach
“A force to be reckoned with.”—Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews
“Magnificent . . . This is a great enemies-to-lovers story. . . . The world-building is extremely attractive and the writing is remarkable.”—Dirty Books Obsession
“Freaking explosive!”—MM Book Escape
Lyandros Dragoumanos will return in Taste the Dark. This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

*This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Win the audiobook!

I have one code for the audiobook version of Surrender the Dark by Tibby Armstrong ($17.95 value), and I’m giving it to one commenter on today’s post! All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment on this post. That’s it! No fancy prize widgets that require you to do a million things. Just leave a comment letting me know you’d like to win the autographed copy, and I’ll draw a random comment from below. Here are some important details!

  • Be sure your name and email address are correct when you leave your comment. You don’t have to put your email address IN the comment, just in the the little comment registration area that says “Name” and “Email”. This info is what I will use to contact you.
  • The comment can say whatever you want, but wouldn’t it be great to start up a conversation? I love chatting with you guys, so consider leaving a comment about the excerpt or the author or the book, if you’ve already read it!
  • I’ll choose a winner on Thursday, August 31st. After that, no comments will count as entries. I only have the one to give away!
  • I’ll keep doing giveaways this way if we have a lot of entries, so help spread the word! It’s less work for me, less work for you, and ultimately, we all just want to find good books to read, right? Right!
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Final Thoughts

A gay romance in a gritty urban fantasy setting, Surrender the Dark is different from any other vampire romance I've read. The heroes are mortal enemies, and Ms. Armstrong's telling of their enemies-to-lovers story is is intimately and lovingly spun, a dark story beautifully crafted. The themes in this book are deep and the author spares the characters no hardships, allows them little respite. This is a story for paranormal lovers who crave powerful, stubborn characters pitted against each other and seemingly insurmountable circumstances. Surrender the Dark is not a light read, and you'll LOVE that about it.

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About The Author
Sue "DaVinciKittie" Brown-Moore is a veteran romance blogger and reviewer and the primary voice for Sue has been shamelessly pimping book boyfriends since 2010 and has won several blogging awards with GraveTells. Sue is also a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. She loves reading romance, fantasy, and sci-fi and edits any genre she reads for pleasure. You can follow Sue's editing blog, with tips and tricks for authors, at
  • JoAnna Becker
    August 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Sounds like a great audiobook. Tibby is a new author for me. Thanks for the chance!

  • Kai W.
    August 22, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I would definitely listen to this audiobook. Love the teasers posted on this blog.

  • Amanda B
    August 29, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Nom nom nom, this book sounds amazing. I would have to listen to it at home, not sure I could keep the distractions from interfering with driving. However, at least if I was listening this I wouldn’t be angry.

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Writing style & finesse
Character development
Likeable/relatable characters
Plot tension
Flow & pacing
Heat &/or sexual tension
Technical style
Overall enjoyment