A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Angel at Dawn by Emma Holly

on August 19, 2014

The theme: a very sexy book

Why this one: Most of my print TBR is fairly mild, and this had been recommended to me several times.

Angel at Dawn is a sequel to Devil at Midnight, which ended on a sort of cliff-hanger. So there’ll be some spoilers here for the first book, but not much more than you’d get from the book blurb anyway.  I wound up skimming Devil at Midnight because I guessed — correctly — that it was going to make me really uncomfortable. I do strongly recommend reading it (or at least skimming) if you want to read this one, because there are a lot of important connections. Characters from previous books in the series also show up, but it’s not necessary to have read those.

So, Christian and Grace were in love when he was a young medieval mercenary and she was a… ghost. Their story ended after Christian was turned into a vampire and Grace disappeared. The time is now the 1950s, and Christian is flabbergasted to be confronted with a human who seems exactly like his lost love. She’s the assistant of the vampire queen who originally turned him, and they’re there to persuade him to star in a movie called… wait for it… I Was a Teen-Aged Vampire. To make things even weirder, the script of the movie is remarkably similar to the events of Christian’s life.

You have to admit, this is not your usual paranormal plot. The parts relating to movie-making were pretty fun; I especially liked the subtle indicators that are put into the script to imply that two characters are gay. (Shades of The Celluloid Closet.) This leads to a funny scene in which the clueless straight actors are trying to puzzle out the significance:

“It’s an Ibsen thing: there just to be absurd.”

“Maybe it’s supposed to mean we have a telepathic bond.”

“I don’t know how to play telepathic,” Matthew said worriedly.

It was also kind of fascinating to see the past and present interrelated — for example, the two characters are gay because two of Christian’s closest friends had been secretly in love — although I would have liked less vagueness about how things happened and what it all means. It’s an original plotline, I’ll give it that. But I didn’t get Christian’s anger at Grace for deserting him: it seemed obvious in Devil at Midnight that her comings and goings weren’t in her control. His anger seemed more like a useful opportunity to show how much he loved her anyway, in classic romance hero fashion.

I also wasn’t crazy about the sex scenes, which seem to be largely about how enormous Christian’s truncheon is and all the wacky things he can do with it. A typical line: “Her cry of admiration lengthened him, as if being with her made him more of a man in more ways than one.” And the description of their vampire + human sex are so ferocious, I kept worrying that he would break her.

It’s funny… I thought Angel at Dawn was better than Devil at Midnight (if I can make that judgement about a book I only skimmed,) yet what I most liked about Angel at Dawn were the parts that reflected Devil at Midnight. So if I recommended these, I would be recommending you read one book so you can then read another book which will make you enjoy the first book more.

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