Reviewed: January 8, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Elder Races, Book 3
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 312 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
His friend and fellow Wyr sentinel Tiago was dying when Dragos' First, Rune Ainissesthai, turned to the vague and nearly catatonic Vampyre sorceress Carling Severen and shook her back into awareness, demanding she use her not inconsiderable power to save him. The cost for that save was one favor. Though Dragos wasn't happy, Rune had no intention of welshing. He just hoped the stunning but borderline crazy Vampyre would command him to do something quick and easy so he could get back to his duties in New York as fast as possible.
Carling is dying. She knows it. Compared to other Elder races, the Nightkind don't do so well with immortality. Those who had once been human don't have the inherent ability to be able to survive thousands and thousands of years without it taking a vicious toll on their psyche. Carling is one of the oldest of her kind and she has long since lost touch with emotion or interest in life's pleasures. The immense power she's cultivated for eons is vacillating wildly and her fugue states are becoming more and more frequent. She knows it's just a matter of time before...well...time catches up with her and wipes her from existence. She's rather ambivalent about it all, actually.
Carling is rather ambivalent about everything, lately, though. Which is part of the problem.
When the powerful Wyr Rune shows up for the favor he owes her, their meeting is short and not at all sweet, and it pushes Carling into a surprising fit of temper. One so startlingly hot that she releases Rune from his obligation just to get him away from her. And if the infuriating griffon would just go, she could slide back into her decline and continue her numbing disassociation with the world around her.
Rune isn't going anywhere. Not when he finds out just how sweet Carling's lips taste. Not when he's told what she's doing almost completely alone on a barely-there island of Other off the coast of San Francisco. Not when she tells him she's dying. Hell no. Not when he hasn't been able to get the image of her naked, scarred, strong body out of his head since the last time he saw her. Carling Severen, Vampyre Queen, sorcerer, Council member, is definitely not going to die.
He has no idea why it's so important to him that she live, but he will damn well make sure she does. Even if it means giving up everything he's known for hundreds of years to do so.
I can only imagine how hard it must be to follow a novel debut as wildly popular as Dragon Bound was for Harrison. It sure does set the bar pretty high. So high, in fact, that it's almost impossible not to compare every subsequent book to that debut, and have them thought of as disappointments in comparison. It's human nature, sure, and there are few things in life that are fair, but it's unfortunate.
Dragon Bound was one of my favorite reads of 2011. The second in the series, Storm's Heart, didn't thrill me. I enjoyed parts of it very much, and liked it overall, but it didn't rock my world like its predecessor did. I had some weird issues with a seeming lack of character continuity, as well as a personal preference conflict with the Fae politics that lessened my enjoyment of the read. Still, if it hadn't been for Dragon Bound, would I have been more impressed with the wildly original world, thorough and well developed plotline, and fun, sexy characters? Maybe.
Looking at Serpent's Kiss with that in mind, I have to say, I thought this book was wonderfully original in mythos and world building, and after a bit of a slow start, I was caught up in the storyline and stayed captivated through to the end. Did I like it as much as Dragon Bound? No. But as a paranormal romance in its own right, it's one of the most original, exciting, passionate, sexy PNRs I've read lately.
Carling and Rune both seemed far more consistent with how their characters were previously written, so I didn't feel that same sort of disconnect I did in the previous book. In fact, Dragos and Pia were also pleasantly familiar during their brief cameo appearance. I didn't quite feel the chemistry between Carling and Rune at first, though. Maybe part of that was because the disconnected Carling wasn't feeling much chemistry with life at the time so there wasn't a rush of feeling between the characters to pick up on. Fortunately, as Carling became more and more rooted in the present, that did rectify itself, but I think it's part of the reason I felt the beginning few chapters dragged for me.
I never thought they achieved the same level of chemistry and passionate fun that Dragos and Pia share, but that's okay.
I have to say, beyond the romance aspects, and the wicked fun monkey sex, I also really enjoyed the plot of this book. I liked the mystery of Rune's Wyr animal, and how it played a part in the goings on...even if I can't honestly say I totally understood everything that went on there. Tracking down answers to save Carling made this book read almost like a murder mystery where the victim isn't dead yet, which appealed to the mystery lover in me, and the action generated by the factions trying to stop them appealed to my appreciation for action-adventure books.
I loved the glimpses of Carling's past, and Rune's interactions there were fascinating and original. The Nightkind king didn't get enough of a comeuppance for my tastes, though, after all the crap he pulled, and Rhoswen got off far too lightly, in my opinion. I would have cheered for an extended put down in either of those directions, but I'll take what I got.
I do wish things had resolved a bit differently between Dragos and Rune in the end, but overall, I was extremely happy with this book. I was even more thrilled with the glimpse into the next one, which I've already pre-ordered for its March release. I've heard whispers that it may actually be better than Dragon Bound, which...admittedly...is a little hard for me to believe, but I'm certainly looking forward to determining that for myself.
This series has raised one question that I'm still curious about though... Just how long is the honeymoon period when the couple has a life span that extends thousands and thousands of years?
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