Kira Graceling understood that life as a private investigator sometimes meant she'd have to walk through her neighborhood during hours most often noted for muggings and assaults, so hearing the evil laughter and the low moans of pain as she made her way from the Green Line to her apartment through Chicago's mostly abandoned warehouse district didn't so much surprise her as set her on alert. Calling in the altercation doesn't do enough to ease her conscience, however, so pulling her gun from her backpack, Kira charges into the warehouse to save whomever it was who sounded like he desperately needed being saved.
Mencheres, set upon by ghouls and suffering intense torture at their silver-bladed hands couldn't believe his eyes when the human woman stepped out of the shadows and demanded his tormentors freeze. At over four thousand years old, he had no recollection of anyone, human or not, coming to his aid in such a manner. Despite the fact that her appearance ruined his carefully laid plans, he could not allow the human to be killed for her courage and spirit. In saving her life, however, he's brought Kira to the attention of an ancient rival intent on both Mencheres' power and his life. As Mencheres spends more time with Kira, his past and millennia of guilt and morbid responsibility war with a growing enchantment with the one person through all ages who has ever wanted him not for what he can offer, but for who he is. Only Mencheres can stop a crooked Guardian's plans for domination. Only since Kira has he truly wanted to. Will he succeed, or will the approaching darkness, the only vision he sees now, claim him first?
If you're unfamiliar with Jeanine Frost and her urban fantasy Night Huntress series and crossover paranormal romance Night Huntress World series, well...I'm sorry to hear that. You've missed a lot of excellent storytelling. In this second book in the NHW, the mighty and both respected and feared Mencheres is given a lot more room for development, though I have to admit, I was a little leery when I first heard he'd be getting his own book so soon into the crossover series. I've respected Mencheres since he was first introduced, but he's so darn forbidding and powerful and...other...that I couldn't imagine how Frost would pull off developing his character into a sympathetic and interesting lead character.
Forgive me for my doubts. I should have known better. Eternal Kiss of Darkness was fantastic, full of action, danger, and intense emotion, and it was one of the best paranormal romance books I've read in quite some time exactly because Frost managed to explore Mencheres and add depth to his character without losing any of the sheer power of his personality, his skills, his magics, anything. She also managed to deftly and subtly explain so much of what intrinsically makes him different...better...more...than other vampires and also added an absolutely sexy vulnerability to the least vulnerable vampire of them all.
Let's not forget, either, Frost gave us Kira Graceling, a woman who is smart, strong, independent, courageous, and a truly good person. Kira is one of my favorite paranormal romance heroines in recent memory and she fit so very well with Mencheres that I feel almost indebted to Frost for the brilliant pairing. Ironically, it almost makes perfect sense that only a truly modern and independent woman could be the perfect match for the stoic, imposing, and ancient Mencheres. She's a woman who suffers no fools and who calls it like she sees it, and I delighted in reading about her setting Mencheres on his ear more than once. I thoroughly, totally enjoyed the development and evolution of their relationship.
The threat to the couple was well defined and the plot was tight and sharp, offering up conflict hand-in-hand with the romance, so from a technical and emotional standpoint, I found this book to be superior to the first book in this crossover series, First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, Book 1). I enjoyed that one, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't as satisfied by some aspects as I was with this book. This one, however, satisfied on just about every level.
In fact, I only had the smallest of issues that aren't even criticisms, really, just things I wish had developed a little differently due to personal preference. As much as I loved Kira - and I did...a lot - I'm not entirely convinced that she would have so quickly acted so composed when first finding out about the harsh reality of those things that go bump in the night, and I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more of her internal development as her feelings were growing for Mencheres. The scene in which she shares her feelings, however, was priceless and I wouldn't change that for anything. There were several scenes that were so exquisitely and uniquely Mencheres/Kira moments that I was both amused and enchanted by them both. I do wish the very last scene of the book had been slightly different (details withheld to prevent spoilers). An epilogue or something would've just put the cherry on the sundae and added a feeling of comprehensive completion to the arc of the romantic development that I think was lacking as it was written.
Following a standard set in First Drop of Crimson, several characters we're fond of from the Night Huntress series are included: Cat and Bones, and in this installment, Vlad - who is one of my favorite secondary characters in both series. I was just as impressed in this book as I was in the first with Frost's ability to take beloved characters we've met and know in a completely different milieu and keep their character definition, action, and dialogue consistent - in fact, further developing them in intriguing ways that I believe will benefit both series.
Eternal Kiss of Darkness is a strong, powerful paranormal romance from a master of both suspenseful and romantic plotting ripe with creativity and originality. It satisfied my jones for excellent storytelling all the way around. I can't wait for the next one any more than I can the next in the Night Huntress series, This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5), due to be released in March, 2011. Excellent read; excellent series. Both of them. 4.5 Stars.
Originally reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.
Night Huntress World Series:
First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, Book 1)
Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Night Huntress World, Book 2)
Night Huntress Series:
Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1)
One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 2)
At Grave's End (Night Huntress, Book 3)
Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Book 4)
To be released 3/2011: This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5)