Giovanni Vecchio is the proverbial mysterious, tall, dark and handsome stranger. He is reportedly doing research on an ancient document found in the university's library. Beatrice de Novo is studying library sciences and works part-time in the evenings at the university's library. Giovanni and Beatrice don't have much in common other than a love in books, or so it appears in A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter, the first in the Elemental Mysteries series.
Giovanni may look the quintessential professional but he is so much more. Giovanni Vecchio happens to be more than 500 years old and is searching for books from his old library. He happens to be a vampire with a special gift, an affinity for fire. Due to this elemental affinity he can light candles, kindling to start fires and unfortunately short out most electronic equipment including cell phones, appliances, and cars. Currently residing in Houston, Texas, Giovanni lives a quiet life assisted by his friend/butler/chauffeur, Caspar. Caspar takes care of the tedious parts of Giovanni's life. He also maintains contact with other vampires around the world, including two of Giovanni's oldest friends: Carwyn, a one thousand-year-old Welsh priest, and Tenzin, a four thousand plus year old Asian woman. Carwyn is an earth vampire and can manipulate soil and rock, and Tenzin is an air vampire and can manipulate the wind and fly. These are not your run-of-the-mill vampires.
Beatrice, or "B,” is a hard-working student. She's in her senior year and wants to graduate and continue her studies with a graduate degree. She is currently residing with her only known relative, her paternal grandmother. Her father disappeared and was presumed dead more than 10 years ago. Her grandfather died just a few years ago and her mother hasn't been in her life since her birth. One would presume that these hard knocks would cause B to feel sorry for herself or worse, but she is a rather level-headed young woman. Or at least she thought she was until confronted with the reality that Giovanni is a vampire. If that wasn't hard enough to swallow, she must also accept that she wasn't crazy during her teen years and that she had seen her father - a newly turned vampire.
Long story short, Giovanni feels that B's father may try to contact her and wants to be readily available. To say that B has a lot to deal with is a massive understatement. It doesn't help that she is attracted to Giovanni and that he seems to share her feelings. Weeks pass and it seems that things aren't as bad as feared but then B is abducted by the man she and Giovanni feared. Lorenzo was turned by Giovanni and is the one that turned B's father. He is ruthless, amoral and completely without feeling. Will Giovanni be able to save B before she can be harmed or turned? Will Giovanni and B ever be able to have a relationship other than friendship?
I kind of liked the notion that Giovanni is an antique book dealer and that B is a librarian, a research librarian but hey . . . books! Their relationship goes through many different changes including wary acquaintances, employer-employee, and then friendship. B feels as if she is caught between a rock and a hard place because she wants more from Giovanni than he is prepared to give (sounds like a lot of male-female relationships). There's a lot more going on in this story than the subtle male-female attraction between B and Giovanni; there's also the completely dysfunctional father-son relationship between Giovanni and Lorenzo, Giovanni's familial relationship with Caspar and even Carwyn, B's love-hate relationship with her father (primarily due to his disappearance), and the budding romance between Caspar and Isadora de Novo, B's grandmother. Whew, told you it was a lot but it works. A Hidden Fire is a fast paranormal-romantic suspense read and a surprisingly good read at that.
Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."