March 27, 2008
Embrace the Night
By Karen Chance
In order to end the geis binding her to Mircea, Cassandra Palmer must find the Codex Merlini. (As in, Merlin. I do love a touch of the King Arthur legends.) EMBRACE THE NIGHT opens with a terrific action scene and rarely stops. Cassie attracts trouble, much to the consternation of many of her companions, but to the great enjoyment of her readers. How can she help it, when everyone and their dog wants the Codex?
I’ll admit it: I barely avoided a spoiler in this review. It’s relatively minor, but I’d prefer to avoid it. (Although, if you read the excerpt, it’s mentioned in the first chapter.) In this book, Cassandra matures. I’ve always been fonder of Cassie than most urban fantasy heroines – her reasons for not wanting power are reasonable and she understands that she can’t survive alone and sometimes has to trust others. As she learns to be more confident in her abilities I like her even more.
To continue the character love, I also enjoy the various love interests. Karen Chance gives Mircea, the main love interest, incredible sex appeal. His scenes with Cassie will be earmarked in many a copy of EMBRACE THE NIGHT, I suspect. Yet she still manages to create viable reasons to keep him and Cassie apart. However, secondary love interest Pritkin is less reasonable (more homicidal) and just as lovable . . . er, sexy. (Okay, so I have a soft spot for a certain sort of gleefully armed men. Please don’t quote me on the “gleefully armed.” Crushes on imaginary characters defy my wit.) Pritkin and Cassie’s scenes are no less hot than those with Mircea. (Tomas is mentioned, but not seen in the book.)
I don’t want to make it seem like the book is all sex – in three novels, Chance includes a grand total of two sex scenes. She does include a great deal of sexual tension and darn-close-to-sex though. Who doesn’t love them some well-done sexual tension? LKH used to be able to do it, in the early Anita Blake books. Chance writes one intricate plot which the relationships serve to deepen, not to overpower.
I found EMBRACE THE NIGHT easier to follow than TOUCH THE DARK or CLAIMED BY SHADOW. Cassie, for those who haven’t read the first two novels, can travel through time. This necessarily complicates the story. Both TTD and CBS required a second reading before I fully understood just what happened in certain scenes, but I felt I had a much better grasp of the story in EMBRACE THE NIGHT. (That isn’t to say I’m not already re-reading it.) Chance isn’t the best writer in the urban fantasy genre, but her books are fun and sexy. I need to be seeing her on more shelves.
EMBRACE THE NIGHT comes to a bookstore near you on April 1st. Chance’s new series starts with MIDNIGHT’S DAUGHTER in October 2008. Find out more at her website.
Still coming soon: A review of short stories by Mary Robinette Kowal, nominated for the Campbell Award.