Dark Perception by Alexandrea Weis opens up a new series called “Corde Noir” with a solid 5 star introduction to this twisted world of “The Black Cord Society.” The title references the psychic gifts our heroine -Melinda Harris- has inherited from her grandmother who raised her to understand her abilities were a gift and gifts must always be shared, not used for personal gain. The title alone evokes a feeling of foreboding which continues throughout the entire novel.
Combining horror with the erotic takes a particular skill which Alexandrea Weis excels at during the course of Dark Perception’s twisted tale of love, premonitions, and the old adage of ‘being careful what you wish for’ since it also teaches a harsh lesson in the end.
Melinda Harris was raised a simple country girl with four overprotective older brothers on a farm where she was never quite comfortable. Her grandmother had come to the States from England; Grandma Teresa taught Melinda many things about culture, the world, a life outside of being some farmer’s daughter or wife. It was her grandmother’s influence which encouraged her to strike out on her own to get to New Orleans where she set up in Jackson Square reading cards, catering to the tourists without fleecing them, and occasionally indulging her real passion which was for music.
“Grandma Teresa believed those who saw things through to the end could always be trusted to keep their word. Quitters were liars and cheats because if they couldn’t be honest with themselves, how were they going to be honest with you?”
A deep desire to make her departed grandmother proud of her leads Melinda to accept the unorthodox offer of Nathan Cole to be his personal psychic. She is offered the deal of a lifetime by a man who comes to her rescue when her latest travesty of a lover publicly humiliates her. Nathan is sexy, successful, and sincerely interested in Melinda in a way she can feel even without her dark perception coming into play. Nathan gives her a new apartment in his complex which is not-so-affectionately coined ‘The Shallows’ which is in the Warehouse District. The name comes from the history of the place as a slaver’s auction house where many shallow graves were found which were believed to be the graves of slaves who died before they could make it to auction.
Sending a psychic to live in a place built on shallow graves should sound like a bad idea—because it is and watching it get darker and deadlier throughout the work is more than half the fun. As Melinda falls deeper under Nathan’s spell, agreeing to be more than his pet psychic but to also wear his collar and be his actual pet, it’s impossible not to want to warn her of some sort of danger even if one has no idea what the danger is or where it’ll originate from along the way.
Sex becomes an addiction for Melinda and Nathan as they use one another in different ways. He wants her powers to help him with building his empire; she wants the luxurious experiences he offers her which she’d never really thought she could get in her lifetime. They run the gamut from vanilla to light bondage to some really impressive toy play so if the erotic part of the erotic horror construct is not for you? You might want to think twice about reading this book since it does not shy away from the naughty bits.
Nathan Cole is a dominant businessman who oozes confidence and success. It’s easy to fall under Nathan’s spell regardless of any warnings from anyone else. He’s absolutely delicious from the moment he shows up.
Jack Deron treats Melinda like she’s his little sister as he also works the square as a psychic with his own gifts which are not quite as developed as the ones Melinda seems to sport. He’s not as traditionally handsome as Nathan and not nearly as refined, but he has a lot of love for Melinda -who he calls his Maddie because she’s always mad at him about something- which is very endearing and he’s charming enough in his own way.
Dark Perception is not a love triangle in the traditional sense. It’s more a book which asks the reader to consider who the leading lady should choose: the man who can give her everything from a worldly view or the man who’ll love her more than anything.
Alexandrea Weis has a lush writing style which showcases a deep love of New Orleans as well as a familiarity with the city which only comes from those who have lived there. Her characters are rich, three-dimensional people with flaws and faults and feelings. The secrets of the ‘Black Cord Society’ aren’t all revealed which leaves the reader anxious for more yet the storyline for Melinda is resolved enough to give the reader a satisfying sense of closure for her chapter in the overarching plot.
Haunting as much as it is horrific, Dark Perception is the kind of book which stays with the reader long after the last page has been turned. It’s the kind of book which should be measured in what one gains from reading it rather than in stars because it takes the reader all the way up to touch them while dangling from the moon on a silver thread. If you only read one paranormal romance this year? Dark Perception by Alexandrea Weis should be it. That’s how tight the Corde Noir sinks in around the reader’s neck: it’s ruthlessly unforgettable.