Release Blitz ~ Dark Summer by S. J. Coles (Series Review + Excerpt)


Book Title: Dark Summer (A sequel to Blood Winter)

Author: S. J. Coles

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Release Date: July 27, 2021

Genres: M/M Romance, Paranormal Romance, Vampire Romance, Thriller

Tropes: Love against the odds, Forbidden Love, love triangle

Themes: Learning to love, healing, facing fears

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 50 247 words/ 204 pages

It is not a standalone story. It is the second book in a series.



Buy Links

Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Is a human lifetime long enough to learn to love a vampire?



A sequel to Blood Winter

Is a human lifetime long enough to learn to love a vampire?

The tumultuous events of the Blood Winter are a fading nightmare, and Alec and Terje are trying to build a life together at Alec’s newly restored ancestral home of Glenroe. There’s just one problem… Terje doesn’t appear to be committed—constantly called away on mysterious errands and seemingly unable to forsake his own kind. Alec begins to wonder if Terje is capable of loving anyone, let alone him.

When an old uni friend Jay Singh, recently out of the closet and looking rather too good to be true, returns to Alec’s life, he becomes more conflicted than ever. Things only escalate when Alec is forced into the social and political issues still surrounding the haemophiles’ tumultuous integration into human society and soon it is more than just his relationship on the line.

Can Alec figure out what kind of future is possible with a vampire—and if it can ever be enough for either of them—before it’s too late?


“You’re tired.”

Terje was brushing his long fingers through the hair on my chest. I forced my eyes open, fighting back the warm oblivion that had threatened to steal me away.

“No, I’m not.”

Terje chuckled softly and extricated himself from my arms. I made a noise of protest, propping myself on my elbows as Terje started to collect his clothing from the floor.

“What are you doing?”

“You should sleep,” Terje said, pulling on his jeans.

“This is the first night we’ve had together in weeks,” I muttered, taking Terje by the wrist and pulling him close. “I’m not going to sleep for any of it.”

Terje brushed a kiss across my forehead. “If you’re sure…”

“Of course I’m sure,” I said, annoyance bleeding into my tone.

Terje, either not noticing or not caring about my reaction, continued to dress, pulling on his T-shirt, shoes and light, black jacket. He always wore muted tones, blacks and grays, sometimes pale blues. It should make someone with his pale complexion look washed-out or even sickly. But against his smooth, pearlescent skin and hair, it just made him look exotic, unearthly, surreal but achingly beautiful.

“Are we going somewhere?” I asked, breaking off from staring to retrieve my underwear.

“I’d like to go for a walk,” Terje said, pulling a band out of his pocket and tying his blue-white hair back into a tail. As I was the only one available to cut it and I wasn’t the best hairdresser, he’d allowed it to grow long again. The shorter strands at the front fell into his eyes, but it left the smooth lines of his neck free.


“In the park,” he replied, fetching a bottle from a bag he’d dropped in the corner. “Below the castle.”

“They have that here,” Alec said, indicating the fridge.

“I prefer my own,” he replied. He opened the bottle, drank deeply and color washed into his cheeks. He dropped the empty bottle in the specialist canister next to the fridge and went toward the window.

“This is a safe place,” I muttered, grabbing a fresh shirt out of my case. “You don’t have to go out of the window.”

“It’s better to be careful,” he said, then was gone.

I sighed, trying to fight the return of my frustration. I finished dressing and hurried out into the busy city night. The air had cooled but the towering stone buildings still retained some of the warmth from the day, giving the air an enclosed feel. The sky arched black overhead, bleached featureless by streetlight.

Terje was nowhere in sight. I crossed the North Bridge, heading for Market Street and the way down into the Princes Street Gardens. The noise of people weaving between the bars, clubs and restaurants fell away as I descended the stairs into the cool, fresh openness of the park. A train heading into Waverley station hissed by on the rails above. As I ventured farther in to where the only light was from the LED lampposts installed to lower light pollution, the stars finally became visible, glittering like diamonds on a sheet of black velvet.

Edinburgh Castle glowered from its clifftop, all ramparts, towers and impossibly large blocks of stone. I had always thought it looked forbidding, but when Terje stepped out of the shadows to stand at my side and gaze up at it in quiet wonder, I tried again to see it how he might see it.

“It’s beautiful, in its own way,” he had said the first time we had visited Edinburgh, almost a year before. “It’s a promise to protect as well as to fight back.”

Looking at his profile in the starlight, my anger faded and, for the moment, I was just grateful he was back.

He laced his long fingers through my own. The memory of Jay touching that same hand earlier that day rose in my mind but I shook it away, along with the ghosting guilt. Terje sent me a sideways look and I was suddenly certain, however impossible it was, that he knew. But then he started to walk down the path, drawing me with him.

“We have a story about a haemophile that lived in the castle in the middle ages,” Terje murmured as we walked. “Did I tell you that?”

“No, you didn’t. I’ve heard lots of ghost stories about it,” I said absently. “Never anything about vampires.”

“It’s one of our stories. Like a cautionary folk tale…”


Terje’s forehead creased slightly in the pale light. “Very few of our kind have ever lived outside of a commune. This one did. Her story, well…it doesn’t end well.”

~ * ~ Annies Review ~ * ~

* Blood Winter * 
5 Stars
I read a lot, so anytime a book surprises me nowadays it provides a bit of a wow factor and I get a little giddy. That was definitely the case for Blood Winter. I’ve read a decent number of paranormal and vampire stories, and I always enjoy the creativity in them. But this book had such originality that I was enthralled. I loved every moment, including the emotional and angsty events and I was oh so happy I wouldn’t have to wait long for the second part of this couple’s story.

Alec was the epitome of a broody man, but I loved that the reader got to see the vulnerable moments and thoughts he harbored from the beginning. It made his sweetness and connection with Terje all the more momentous. I also liked how this couple is so different than those you read in most vampire romances. There was such individuality to both men as well as the story that it is not one I’m likely to forget.

On top of the interesting characters, intriguing storyline, and sweet but complex romance between Terje and Alec, the action, suspense, and twists in Blood Winter had me glued to my e-reader. The underlying tone and buildup were steady but powerful and I honestly cannot recommend it enough to readers who like paranormal romances or those who simply want to be wowed by an entirely different storyline.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***


* Dark Summer *

5+++ Stars
Okay, wow! I read and loved Blood Winter for its originality. The author’s approach to a vampire romance is so unexpected and different that it’s one that I’ll likely measure others against for a long time. Even so, I was not expecting for the series to continue to surprise me the way Dark Summer did. I wasn’t expecting for my heart to break and heal twice in one book. And I wasn’t expecting to be so pulled in that I was sad as I saw the end of the book drawing closer. The first book wowed me, but the second book blew me away.

Blood Winter ends with a happy-for-now resolution for Terje and Alec, so I was a little sad when Dark Summer started and it seemed like that happiness had dulled. In reality, the author stuck true to her characters and the fantasy world she created, and in turn, I had to adjust my expectations of what this couple’s “happy” truly meant. I loved that this book led to much more character development, especially for Alec. I really understood him better and felt for him, so much so that when the events unfold Alec’s choices, responses, and concerns all make sense, even if I wasn’t entirely expecting it to happen. And Terje, he is difficult to understand, but I loved that. I loved his quiet allegiance to Alec even when he doubted that ability for their bond to last. I loved that he was his own character and that I grew to understand and appreciate all the nuances that made his character and this world so unique. And then I loved that both of these men surprised me in a way that I suspect will be unforgettable.

As with Blood Winter, there’s a good bit of action and suspense in Dark Summer. Some moments had me pausing and rereading it because a twist or revelation completely caught me off guard.  Some had me clutching my chest with the amount of emotion they would summon in me or I’d feel for these characters. And just when I thought I could see how things would go, the characters and author surprised me again.

These two books have truly been some of my favorite surprises ever. As I said in my review for Blood Winter, I love when a book has a wow factor. It’s even better when a series has that wow factor. In this case, the second book was even better than the first and I ended it both completely satisfied and disappointed that there wasn’t a third book to look forward to get lost in. If you ever have wanted a vampire or paranormal romance that is off the beaten path—this is it and it’s phenomenal.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***


About the Author

S.J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK. She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.

She finds writing LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation, emotion and sexuality.

Among her biggest influences are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice.


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