Monday, January 24, 2011

Lords of the Night by Monique Ellis, Janice Bennett and Sara Blayne

As this book is really a set of three novellas by different authors, I shall review each one on it's own rather than the book as a whole.

The DeVille Inheritance focuses on a vampire who believes that if he can do something truly selfless, he will be able to regain a soul and go to heaven after his death. (Yes, he's a religious vampire. Roll with it.) The trouble is, can any act really be a selfless one if the person doing it intends to get a reward for his actions? When he rescues the bold and beautiful Ann Leighton from an attack in a bad section of London, he quickly finds himself entranced. Might helping this girl save her swaggering drunkard of a brother from a greedy suitor of Ann's be the thing that will save him?

I picked this book up on a lark, thinking it might be a bit of corny, vampiric fun. This was the first story and completely changed my mind. This story is really good! The author mixes family politics and responsibility, a budding romance and morality, with the result being a gripping, emotional and surprisingly intellectually-interesting story. All the main characters except the primary villain are interesting and made me wish for a proper novel so I could read about them more. There were also a number of unexpected plot twists, and the author often opted not to follow the same well-worn path of many other romance authors, instead finding new ways to keep the reader hooked.

The writing is a touch affected sounding at times, like the author was unsuccessfully trying a little too hard to make it sound like Regency greats such as Austen. However, for the most part the writing is smooth and easy reading. The dialogue is very smart and quick, but still sounds quite natural.

I wish I could read some work by this author that wasn't limited by the restrictions of standard romance novels, as she shows clear talent for creating a morally complex tale. Sadly, the requisite happy ending of this one didn't fit with the feel of the rest of the tale very well and felt rushed and tacked on.

The second tale, Dark Shadows, features a spunky red-head with a fondness for shaking up polite society and who enjoys causing a scandal or two. But when she meets the Earl of Revelstroke, she might have met her match, in more ways than one.  I only got a little way into this one before I gave up. The dull, overused stereotypical characters were particularly bothering after the excellence of the first story. The writing was far too heavy handed and melodramatic, I was longing for a red pen and wishing the editor had made better use of theirs.
In the final story, The Full of the Moon, the vampiric Baron Ramsdell rescues young Juliana Wittington from an awkward confrontation at a party. She admits to him that she is new to London, as is her cousin. Her cousin has taken to gambling under the advice of a "gentleman" named Woolsey, who Juliana is convinced is swindling him. Ramsdell decides he wants to help her and the two of them come up with a plan to teach the two young men a lesson and hopefully reveal Woolsey's cheating. But Juliana is unaware that as time passes, Ramsdell is finding her blood harder and harder to resist.

Although not as good as the first story, this was a fun read. The plot was rather predictable, but I enjoyed it all the same. The couple's project was a good way of bringing them together and giving them plenty of time to get to know each other. The writing is rather bland, but not what I'd call bad. I definitely didn't see the twist ending coming, although thinking it over afterwards I probably should have.

4 Stars

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