Crescent Blues Double Review
Amanda Ashley: After Sundown
Amanda Ashley: A Whisper of Eternity
(Paperback), ISBN 0-8217-7528-6
Edward Ramsey, the hero of After Sundown, loathes himself. For generations, his family hunted vampires. He himself did, earning himself the status of one of the best. But a recent hunt went badly. The vampire Alexi proved too strong and nearly killed Edward. Grigori Chiavari saved Edward's life -- by making him undead.
Now Edward desperately wants it all to end. He fruitlessly begs Grigori to kill him, and after Grigori refuses, tries to walk out into the dawn. Edward's self-preservation instinct proves too strong however, and he continues his undead existence, slowly learning what he needs to know from Grigori. But the pair remain distant from each other and the mortal Marisa -- Edward's former lover and Grigori's wife. This creates a different kind of stress and longing on Edward's part.
But Edward soon finds a new reason to exist when he saves a suicidal young woman named Kelly Anderson. She slowly warms to him, eventually becoming Edward's lover and then wife. But their happiness, as well as Grigori and Marisa's, nearly comes to an end.
Khira, the oldest known vampire (as well as Grigori's maker and former lover), arrives in Los Angeles and begins killing or driving off the few other vampires in town. Whatever Khira wants, she doesn't hesitate to take, and she now sets her sights on reacquiring Grigori as a lover. The vampires must join together to take her out as they did Alexi, with a little help from Marisa and one of Edward's vampire hunter colleagues.
In A Whisper of Eternity, vampire Dominic St. John finally finds his soulmate again when Tracy Warner buys and moves into the oceanside house above Dominic's lair. Tracy, a painter, loves the view and the solitude. When they first meet during a nighttime stroll along the beach, Dominic instantly recognizes her as the woman he loves all-consumingly -- and who never fails to die in his arms after refusing his Dark Gift.
At first, Dominic's scrutiny and devotion trouble Tracy. She doesn't remember their past lives together, though after the meeting she begins having incredibly realistic dreams of herself in other places and times, always with Dominic. When Tracy casually begins dating Bryan, a human friend, Dominic's jealousy pushes her away.
Fearing for her safety and Bryan's, Tracy packs a few things and flees, only to wind up abducted by Dominic. Inexplicably, despite Dominic's extreme possessiveness, Tracy falls in love with him -- but she can't imagine herself as a vampire. Dominic, weary of waiting on her for centuries, fears she can never accept his gift.
Amanda Ashley's vampire world contains nothing terribly new in terms of vampire lore. The creatures remind the reader very much of Anne Rice's and Laurell K. Hamilton's glamorous, sensuous and powerful vampires -- suave, sophisticated and alluring. But Ashley avoids Rice's ponderous, overblown writing and Hamilton's smut-for-smut's-sake scenes
In fact, the romances among Ashley's vampires could use a little polish. Ashley's romantic elements often feel forced and hurried, a plot convenience or expectation rather than a development. The characterization of Dominic needs a bit more work as well. He comes across more as a scary stalker than devoted lovelorn soulmate.
But Ashley writes good action sequences, which do a wonderful job of moving the story along, especially in the more action-heavy After Sundown. She also adds interesting subplots to spice things up. Bryan ends up being more than just a casual date to Tracy, and the whole concept of a vampire with a mortal soul mate makes for an interesting read.
The climactic showdown in After Sundown provides a nice surprise, as do the true intentions of Kitana, Dominic's maker, who pops up in town not long after he meets Tracy. All in all, these two books make good solid and entertaining reads, but neither adds anything tremendously new to the genre.
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