Wednesday 18 February 2009

Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole

This is the fourth full length novel in the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I'm not sure if it strictly comes under the rules for TBR Wednesday as it was published in May 2008. But this is the book that stalled me out on the series so I think it's kind of appropriate.

This is the one where the heroine is a ghost. If you've read my post from Sunday you'll know that this is one of my least favourite supernaturals (with only zombies rating lower).

The basic story is this:- Neomi Laress a ballerina is murdered in her New Orleans home and then unfortunately gets to stay there as a ghost watching people come and go but never able to interact with them. Until that is, the brothers Wroth arrive with their half mad sibling Conrad. The brothers imprison Conrad in the hope that he can be saved from the madness. Unfortunately he is the only one who can see Neomi which doesn't initially doesn't help. Eventually Neomi and Conrad come to an understanding but when there are still lies between them, will they have their happy ending.

I must mention one other peeve. I personally find present tense awkward to read. I can understand why to begin with the scenes in Conrad's point of view are written in present tense. (I admit here that my grammar sucks but whatever his early scenes are written in, it isn't a tense I feel comfortable reading. I find my brain switching off). I assume it's to do with his madness and the fact that he only exists in the moment. But it was just another niggle.

So on to what I did like. :)

Conrad and Neomi are both very well written characters - something I've come to expect from Kresley Cole. It's partly down to this excellent characterisation that I can read the story even though Neomi's a ghost. One of the things I like especially is that because for much of the book Conrad is a prisoner, plus he hasn't been blooded, so he and Neomi actually have to talk to one another.
The female didn't have a body that he could feel, he couldn't get erect, and yet it was powerful.
Which means when their relationship finally does become physical that there is a greater understanding between the two of them.

Taking them separately Conrad is aware that he's not right mentally. As he starts to improve I like how he tries to model his behaviour on how Neomi would want him to behave. In a way she becomes a compass for him. And he does worry that she has an idealized view of him - which in a way helps him want to be a better person.

Neomi has a great deal of patience with Conrad, but she also keeps secrets from him - usually because she feels she has to. So even though they talk to one another a lot in the early part of their relationship you can see that they still have a way to go. It's a work in progress - a bit like Conrad himself.

Although they seem very different as characters, Conrad who constantly rails against his fate - the bringer of death - and Neomi - ironically so full of life - who has had to accept her fate at least up until the point where she meets her vampire. Personality wise they are very similar. They decide what they want, they make a plan and they execute it. If that plan fails, they make a new plan until they achieve their objective. It was nice to see the contrasts and similarities of their characters played against each other.

We meet a few characters from previous books, notably Nix and Mariketa. On the subject of Mari, I fear that she has been hanging about with the Valkyrie too long as her dialogue was pretty much indistinguishable from theirs.

As I said on Sunday, the problem with having a ghost for a heroine is that the ending always feels contrived. (I like that it's mentioned that ghost are rare in this universe :) ) So although I loved the characters and what the story brings to the mythology of a series as a whole. It's not going to be one that I re-read as often as the others. But I am left with a couple of stories to look forward to. I really want to know more about Kristoff the vampire King. And I can't help but hope that Regin ends up with Grim.

Sunday 15 February 2009


So this week things are going to be a little bit spooky. There's going to be a review of Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole, and my impressions of Being Human episode 3.

So what do these two things have in common?


If I had to pick a least favourite fantasy/UF creature, ghosts would probably be it. Okay, that's not strictly true. Zombies would be right at the top of my least favourites list, but ghosts are a very close second. And there are more ghost protagonists than zombie ones.

Why do I have a problem with ghosts?

Mainly I think because they're probably the hardest creatures to write a convincing and believable ending for - I'm talking about romance and relationship fiction here. It doesn't really matter what the author does the ending usually has to be wanked* (contrived) in some way to make it work. Especially if it's only one half of the couple who's on the spirit plane. And as soon as that contrivance takes place I lose some faith in the story.

I'm not sure I would ever buy the first book in a series if I knew the hero/heroine was a ghost. So whenever I've read ghost protagonists they've kind of been snuck up on me as part of a series. Of course if anyone has any recommendations I'd love to hear them. :)

* wanked as opposed to fanwanked as it's the author who has to make it work in the first place.

Sunday 8 February 2009

A Dangerous Thing by Josh Lanyon

The second Adrien English mystery and I think possibly my favourite in the series so far. So be warned this review may gush. A Dangerous Thing takes place a couple of months after Fatal Shadows.

Adrien is suffering from writer's block and frustrated by his relationship (or lack of relationship) with Jake Riordan he travels to his ranch in California to clear his head. Unfortunately life is never simple for Adrien and on his arrival he finds a dead body in his drive. A body which disappears. When events take a violent turn it will be to Jake that Adrien turns for help.

I think the reason I like this series so much is because of the character of Adrien. I love his inner voice that we as readers get to hear, I love his snarky outer voice (outer voice? lol) There's something about him that just makes you root for him. He is by no means a saint, but he is very human and very real and that is what makes him so appealing. I love the way Josh Lanyon can just put you (as the reader) in the moment with the characters. And I really enjoy the situations he gets his characters into. Jake's reaction to Kevin is priceless.

Maybe this book is my favourite (so far) because the relationship between Jake and Adrien (eventually) warms here. They are away from the constraints of their 'real' lives and are free to just be Jake and Adrien.
"I seem to remember you saying once that a good detective isn't afraid to use his imagination."
"Do you take notes on everything I say?"
I could quote and quote the banter between them in this book - especially their 'this is muscle not fat' conversation, which is an absolute joy to read.

We get to know Jake much better in this book and see that beneath his assured exterior he has some issues, not just with his sexuality but also with getting older. His life has not turned out how he expected. He can't make himself fit with what he thinks he needs, but it doesn't stop him trying. What's very interesting though - for those people who don't like Jake - is to note that he never lies to Adrien. He doesn't lead him on with false promises, he tells Adrien exactly how it is. And Adrien knows who Jake is:
...a homosexual cop buried so deep in the closet he didn't know where to look for himself.
But sometimes it's easy to forget when you find yourself falling.

Lol - and there's also a mystery to solve.

This series always leaves me wanting more, and I have book three ready to go. Only one more book left after that though. At one point in A Dangerous Thing Adrien says
I'm a thirty-something gay man with a dodgy heart. I sell books for a living. Who wants to read about that?
Hopefully more Adrien English books will be coming our way soon.