What a find! A Hidden Fire was not at ALL the type of vampire book I am accustomed to reading. Instead of a dark, brooding hero oozing sex appeal, and a heroine who can't fall into the hero's arms fast enough, I was treated to a slow-cooking romance with a dash of mystery that centers around the search for BOOKS. Really, what's not to love about that? lol Beatrice De Novo is a librarian in training who works in the rare book/manuscript department at her local university. When she takes over the night shift from one of her coworkers, she meets the enigmatic and handsome scholar, Giovanni. The two develop an almost instant rapport, based on their mutual love of history and books, and a respect for each other's knowledge and researching skills. It's obvious they have chemistry, but neither one is willing to act on it. Instead, they keep things strictly professional. But there are things about Giovanni that just don't add up in Beatrice's mind, little inconsistencies and odd behavior, and the more they work together, the more curious she becomes. It isn't long before Beatrice unearth's Giovanni's secret: he's a 500-year-old vampire with the ability to manipulate fire, and he's spent centuries hunting for a certain collection of books that may, or may not, be in the possession of someone from Beatrice's past. Shocked and feeling more than a little used and betrayed, Beatrice does what any sensible girl would (or should) do. "Don't call me," she tells Gio. "I'll call you." Even better, she means it! She doesn't try to contact him the next day because she misses him and can't bear to live without him. No, she makes him wait weeks before she initiates contact again, and even then, she's understandably wary around him. If I wasn't already sold on the book at that point (which I was), that right there would have sealed the deal for me. The rest of the book focuses on Gio and Beatrice's quest to discover the lost books and the further development of their relationship over a period of several months. (Yes, months, not mere days!) There are a few action scenes, and when Gio gets his vamp on, it's pretty impressive, but if you're looking for a high octane reading experience, you won't find it in A Hidden Fire. The story does lack a certain sense of urgency, but I was so caught up in the characters, I hardly noticed. The cast is delightful - witty, intelligent, and likable. Even the villain entertained me. What I liked best, though, was the romance between Gio and Beatrice. It doesn't boil; it simmers. I loved that. Nothing against bodice-ripper novels, but given the choice, I prefer a romance that isn't afraid to take its time, and Elizabeth Hunter delivered that. 5 stars.