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Friday, July 30, 2010

'Eternal Kiss of Darkness' Night Huntress World #2 by Jeaniene FROST

From the BLURB:

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 her 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.

This is the second book in Jeaniene Frost’s ‘Night Huntress World’ spin-off series.

I was not a huge fan of the first book in this spin-off series, ‘First Drop of Crimson’. But I do admit that Spade was never of interest to me, so I was sceptical from the get-go. By contrast, I did have strong suspicions that I would enjoy this second book about grandsire vampire, Mencheres.

Mencheres has always fascinated me, right from his first appearance in ‘Halfway to the Grave’. I find Mencheres very appealing; he’s tall, dark and exotic and his physical descriptions tick all of my ‘yeah, baby!’ boxes. I have also been fascinated by Mencheres since the 3rd ‘Night Huntress’ book introduced his villainous wife, Patra, and hinted that their ruined marriage left Mencheres with deep emotional scars. Then there’s the fact that Mencheres is over 4,500-years-old, and was originally an Egyptian pharaoh. Not to mention the fact that Mencheres is sire/grandsire to most of the male characters in the ‘Night Huntress’ world. Since he stepped onto the series’ stage Mencheres has just pushed all the right buttons for me, and I was *desperate* for his story.... and Jeaniene Frost did not disappoint.

When the book begins, Mencheres is ready to die. By his own admission he is ‘older than dirt’; he was once a pharaoh and he has his own pyramid in Giza. Mencheres has seen and experienced it all, and after the events in ‘At Graves End’ that saw his wife go on a murderous rampage resulting in her death – he wants to end it all. But Mencheres is harbouring some serious dark guilt over Patra’s death and his actions over the last couple thousand years... because he doesn’t just want to die, he wants to be murdered. Mencheres wants to surrender himself to death-by-ghoul, or perhaps even let his old nemesis, Radjedef, finally have his vengeance.
It is during one of these intended suicide attacks that a female Private Investigator called Kira Graceling intervenes. Kira, without knowing anything about Mencheres’ wealth and power, steps in and tries to save him from a horde of ghouls. When Kira is mortally wounded in the process of rescuing him, Mencheres saves her by giving her his blood. But then the potency of his blood means he cannot erase Kira’s memories, and he is forced to keep her captive until the immunity wavers...

I really liked this spin-off book. My biggest complaint about the first spin-off, ‘First Drop of Crimson’, was lack of chemistry between the protagonists. Frost makes up for Spade & Denise’s lacklustre romance by turning up the heat between Kira and Mencheres. Woah! For one thing, Mencheres hasn’t had sex since being married to Patra for 900 years – let’s just say he has a lot of catching up to do.
Mencheres is very drawn to Kira, and not necessarily just by her beauty. He is more enchanted by her strength, loyalty and bravery – and you really get the impression that they have a deep, profound bond. Of course, there is a physical attraction there too. And when Kira and Mencheres do finally hook-up Jeaniene Frost delivers more of her trademark smut... a particular scene in a bathtub erotically illustrates the benefits of vampire’s lack of oxygen.
A noise of astonishment escaped her as Kira drew back to look at him. "You haven't had sex in over nine hundred years?" She swallowed. "If you're trying to say you want to take things slow, wait until we get to know each other better-"
He laughed, pulling her down into the tub with him. "No. I'm warning you that I will show you no mercy."
I really liked Kira. She’s a 31-year-old P.I. divorcee whose ex-husband was an abusive crooked cop. She is also the primary care-giver for her younger sister who has cystic fibrosis and the primary bank-teller for her dead-beat, drug-addict younger brother. There’s a lot of history that leans a little toward ‘woe is me’ characterization... But it works - mostly because Kira is ballsy and stubborn in the face of adversity. Above all else I loved the way Kira treated Mencheres – amongst other ‘Night Huntress’ characters Mencheres is a father-figure, mentor and aloof vampire head-honcho. But Kira treats him like a man. She is also very aware of the scars his wife left behind, and Kira is actually quite gentle with Mencheres and his feelings.

I had high hopes for a deeper exploration into Mencheres as a character... and I got what I wanted! In ‘Eternal’ he does display his cold, calculating master vampire side, but with Kira he lets his guard down and reveals just how damaged and desperate for love he is. And I loved all of Frost’s descriptions of his ropey muscles, washboard abs and skinny-dipping. He is just my kinda fella!

I had a few niggling, miniscule complaints. The first was that I wanted a little more exploration into Mencheres and Patra’s marriage. A lot of it was revealed in ‘At Grave’s End’, but I thought that Patra was such an interesting part of Mencheres’ past that I wanted *more* about them in this book. There were a few times in ‘Eternal’ when Mencheres makes comments which hint that he really, genuinely loved (and possibly still loves) Patra... and I just wanted to delve deeper into those feelings.

The second complaint is to do with no guest appearance by Ian! Ian is Bones and Spades’ sire, he was turned vampire directly by Mencheres. Because Ian is Menchere’s direct-descendant it felt like there was definitely a place for him in this story. But he’s a no-show, which is a real shame. Ian is one of the funniest characters in the series, but recent appearances in ‘First Drop’ and even his roles in the recent ‘Night Huntress’ books hint that he has a lot to offer in the way of angst and back-story. I don’t think these Night Huntress World books would be complete without an Ian instalment.

Likewise, I either want a spin-off book for Vlad or a spin-off series. Vlad does appear in ‘Eternal’, and he’s another very complex secondary character who is a scene-stealer. I am desperate for his story and have my fingers crossed that he gets a series!

I really loved ‘Eternal Kiss of Darkness’. Honestly, a book all about Mencheres was always going to please me... but Jeaniene Frost delivered the goods ten-fold!

4/5

3 comments:

  1. see, I was never that interested in mencheres in the first place. but so many great reviews on it, I'll def read it, its Jeaniene Frost for G=d sake, she's an automatic buy for me... but Im not rushing to it yet =)

    Great review!

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  2. Glad to see you liked this one. Mencheres never really did it for me, so I didn't rush out and buy this one. Silly me, I shouldn't doubt that she'd deliver!

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  3. I accidentally read this book before any of the NH books so I had no character expectations. My only two complaints are (and the 1st still w/ the 1st 2 NH books I've read)... they are too short! Also, this one cuts off right as Mencheres & Kira should be reunited... I wanted to see Kira's reachtion to Mencheres's finally correctly interpreting his visions... and according to JF's blog, she is working on a Vlad book. Call me crazy, but I'd like to see Gorgan and Tina get together (maybe not in a whole book).

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