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Monday, March 2, 2015

Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost


 An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness . . . And now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears, this fearless, beautiful . . . human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

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I skimmed over some of my friends' reviews of this while I was listening to it and was somewhat surprised to see how many said they didn't care for this book as much as others in the series. I can see where some of them are coming from on this, I suppose, but in the whole I have to disagree for I found this one to be quite riveting. Perhaps it's that I'm often drawn to very old, insanely powerful characters such as Mencheres, or perhaps it's just that his world-weariness pulls at the heartstrings. Whatever it was, I found myself totally engrossed in this one, not wanting it to end, and yet knowing that the deadly game that Mencheres was playing with Radjedef couldn't go on forever.



Kira is a spunky little thing. Right from the beginning she demonstrates her bravery when she goes into the warehouse to save whoever she hears moaning inside even though she knows it's a Very Bad Idea and that she shouldn't get so directly involved. Her sense of honor and rightness won't let her just stand by doing nothing when she knows she might be able to help and that whoever it is that's hurt might not have the time it will take for the police to arrive. She continues to make the same sort of choices throughout the novel, always putting her own safety and well-being second to the needs of others and always holding to her mantra of "save one life whenever you can." As fiercely loyal as she is brave, when those she loves are threatened, she never hesitates to move heaven and earth if that's what it takes to ensure their safety.

Mencheres is a fairly well known character by this point to anyone who has read the first few Night Huntress books. As ancient as he is powerful, he has been a rock that many of the others have relied upon and he has rarely failed them, always acting for the good of his people and the protection of those in his line even when doing so required painful personal sacrifices on his part. At the opening of this book we find him preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his people in order to hopefully prevent a war that could destroy them all because of an old enemy's petty jealousy and hunger for power. Though it isn't immediately clear just what exactly he's doing in the warehouse, it is clear that he's grown weary of fighting and seeks to put an end to at least some of the conflicts in his world as quietly and as easily as possible. Then Kira appears, ruining his plans, and dragging him back into the struggle despite himself with her refusal to accept his visions of doom as absolute, unchangeable truth. To his credit, he doesn't doggedly adhere to an "I'm older and know better" mentality regarding Kira and her ideas, but instead remains willing to hear her out and even to give her a chance to prove that her way of doing things might be the best after all.

The one thing that I didn't really care for in this book was its villain, Radjedef, or Raji as Mencheres usually called him. From the beginning I couldn't help but view him as being little more than a schoolyard bully. A frighteningly powerful and intelligent bully perhaps, but a bully nonetheless. His petty jealousy and lust for power combined with his flagrant abuse of his authority as a Law Guardian make him a dangerous opponent to be sure but make it impossible to have any respect for him. That may seem an odd statement to make about a villain, but I believe that the best villains have something about them that commands our respect, even if only grudging respect, at the same time they strike fear in us. Raji may strike fear in the reader at times with his actions, but mostly he just inspires contempt. Give me a villain that I can at least somewhat admire at the same time I hate him any day instead of the sniveling, petty brat we get in Radjedef.

By contrast, Mencheres was just about everything I could want in a hero: noble, powerful, protective, ruthless when needed, and yet also remarkably humble and always willing to put his own needs second to those of his people. His interactions with Kira show his true mettle, for although he could probably justifiably disregard her ideas and abilities since she is so incredibly young and inexperienced compared to him, he instead regards her with respect from the beginning and always at least listens to her point of view on matters. He's also willing to try things her way on occasion, even when he doesn't believe she's right, simply because he respects her intelligence and remains willing to admit that he may well not know everything in certain situations, or at least willing to concede that her way may prove to be better for all involved.

I'm definitely in broken record mode with my ratings on these books, but they just continue to be worthy of the highest marks. Granted, I might well take off a few tenths of a point due to my dislike of Raji as a villain, but the ratings systems don't really allow for a fine level of detail, I just have to round up to the 5. It goes without saying that I'd recommend this book to anyone that enjoys paranormal romance and urban fantasy, though I would recommend you read the books that come before this one in the combined Night Huntress Universe chronology as the interactions of some of the established characters will make far more sense to you if you have that background. I'm greatly looking forward to continuing on and will be sorry when this series ends.

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