One of my main complaints after reading the first book in the Maldito Series, Emmy's Song, was that character development in general and Emmy and Cale's relationship in particular was rushed and not well fleshed out. In the second book, Emmy's Heart, we get all of that and then some.
For Emmy a lot happened in a relatively short period of time in the first book; a new boy moved to the area, her best friend was killed and vampires turned out to be real. Not only that but she was the cure for the Maldito, the cursed half-human, half-vampire defenders of humanity. And Cale loved her and theirs was an epic love.
Things don't get easier in this second installment. Still reeling from her friend's death, desperately trying to find some normalcy in her chaotic life otherwise, Emmy is given a brief respite during the holidays when all (or at least a significant portion) of her family shows up to stay at her house. For a few days all is fine with the world, or at least Emmy can make believe that, and all she is really worried about is her boyfriend Cale getting along with her family. Reality comes crashing down barely a day later and from there it just goes downhill for poor Emmy.
Throughout her hostage situation Emmy keeps a fairly level head all things considered, plus a sense of dry humor that I certainly appreciated. Her captor, Nathaniel (the 'master' mentioned in the first book) is a curious blend of courteousness, cruelty and delusional insanity. It was hard for me to truly hate him, since what he did he did for his twisted version of 'love' and if put into context for just about any other vampire romance novel he would be the hero of the story not the villian. He just unfortunately tried to come between the epic love of Emmy and Cale.
Character development was a big factor of this book. Emmy and Cale had a more solid and realistic relationship brewing between them--complete with arguments, disagreements and a fair dose of uncertainty at times. The Emmy of this book was also a more mature girl, though in some ways more reckless with her safety. Their future together is discussed, in relation to his impending job and her aspirations for her own career, but they find a balance eventually. Chris, who spent most of the first book acting like a jealous ex-boyfriend towards Cale and Emmy, comes clean about what was up with all that. Him and Cale are best of friends now, almost too close to Emmy's annoyance as they make plans about her without her at times. I appreciated that instead of making Chris bitter or angry about Emmy and Cale he is genuinely happy for them and is distressed when things are not kosher between them.
To be fair there is a higher level of sensuality in this book than is present in most young adult novels today. This isn't to say it felt out of place, or unnecessary, but just a general warning.
The end of the novel, which concludes Emmy and Cale's story, opens the door to the next book featuring a character who helps Emmy out of a rough situation and another character we meet very briefly at the end of this book. I'm eager for that book as well since the male featured character is one I want to know more about.