Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happily Never After by Jeaniene Frost

Isabella Spaga is about to reluctantly walk down the aisle with Mr. Dangerously Wrong...but not if dashing vampire Chance has anything to say about it. As a favor to Bones, Chance has come to derail this wedding of beauty to the beast. Now if only he can keep his hands off the bride. From "New York Times" bestselling author Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress world, it's the wedding of the season...that everyone wants to miss. (Originally appeared in Weddings from Hell anthology)

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Note: In the event it proves relevant, at the time I write this review I have only read Halfway to the Grave and Reckoning in this series, thus I only have knowledge of characters that appear in those books.

As someone who is still fairly new to the Night Huntress universe, I thoroughly enjoyed this short story even though it seems to be only minimally connected to the main book that proceeds it. We only get a few glimpses of Bones here, and he seems somehow a bit different, though perhaps his behavior will seem less odd once I've seen more of him in later books. Cat isn't seen at all and isn't even mentioned by name though Bones does make a comment at one point that alludes to her. For the most part, I think this story could be read and understood on its own even if you haven't read the books that proceed it on the timeline.

For all that it is a relatively short story, the characters and story are well-developed. Isabella in particular is portrayed in vivid detail to the extent she becomes a very unique character, and even though others consider her to be something of a damsel in distress, she doesn't really consider herself to be one. True, she's in a sticky situation, but it's clear she is confident she'll be able to get out of it one way or another and is just biding her time until the right moment to extricate herself. While she's maybe being a bit naive about her ability to free herself, she's not wholly unaware of the dangers involved and knows full well that the people she's having to deal with are not the sort you want to cross.

Chance is somewhat less developed I thought, but still has a distinct personality of his own and isn't just a cardboard cutout character. I like that while he continues to go about things his own way despite Isabella's objections, he doesn't just steamroll over her but treats her with respect and as a woman who's capable of making her own decisions. When the resolution finally comes, Chance supplies the muscle, so to speak, but Isabella is a full participant in what happens and not simply standing on the sidelines while everything is resolved for her.

The pacing of the story is fairly fast given that it's only a novella, but nothing ever feels rushed about it. Isabella's ultimate acceptance of Chance and what he is might come a bit too easily, but overall the situation is one in which you know things are going to happen quickly once events are set in motion so the fast pace seems pretty natural. I did have a few questions about why she was willing to give up some of the things she has to in the end, but mostly felt the story was resolved fairly well and am willing to overlook the slightly rushed feeling that the romance between her and Chance had given the length of the work.

I'd certainly recommend this to any fans of Jeaniene Frost or of the Night Huntress series, but also to fans of paranormal romance or urban fantasy in general. As noted above, you can read this as a stand alone without having read any of the related books and not really miss much. 4½ stars to a very good short story.

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