Monday, May 11, 2009
A Kiss of Ashen Twilight by Rae Lori
A Kiss of Ashen Twilight is a story that effectively combines three genres of paranormal romance: faery, vampire, and shapeshifters, and in a way that kept me as a reader on the edge of my seat. It is also an interracial romance, but in a very creative manner. The hero is a vampire, called a Nightwalker of White Scottish-Gaelic descent, and the heroine is an Black African Aziza fairy. I loved the fact that I didn’t ever quite know what to expect. This is refreshing for an avid reader like myself. Ms. Lori is a writer that doesn’t mind breaking the rules when it comes to expectations in a romantic story, and the results are incredibly satisfactory.
Jace Archane is a vampire who has and continues to take lives when he feeds from a victim. This is a major risk to take for author in crafting the hero of a story. It threw me at first, but I wanted to keep reading to see where the story would take a character who could have come off as being unsympathetic for his actions. Jace is the kind of character that brings to mind the suave, urbane movie vampire, but you care a lot more for him because of his very human heart, his loneliness, and his regrets about his past. I believe the key to caring about him is the fact that Ms. Lori made him very vulnerable in this manner. He’s a bit of a playboy, but does have a sense of loyalty to his uncle and the Ashen Twlight Nightwalker House. He has pretty much given up on love and instead has taken the hedonistic path in life, when Ariya comes into his life.
Ariya is the daughter of the King and Queen of the Aziza fairies, who watch over the hunt in the Dahomey region of Africa. She is regal, brave, intelligent, and kind. Ariya has lead a charmed existence until her family was systematically murdered by a supernatural entity. The only way she can escape their fate is to travel to the mortal realm. She encounters Jace when he saves her from Rens, who are creatures of supernatural origin who do not belong to either the house of Nightwalkers, Lycans, or Shifter Elves, but are seeking a way to seize power away from the three houses. Jace saves her life and the connection between them is evident immediately. Ariya sees the good in Jace, although he seems unable to see it in himself, and this helps him to have peace with himself and want to care about something after many years of merely existing. The fact that although she sees him hunt and kill, it doesn’t turn her off him or make her reject him was refreshing. She understands that it is a part of him, that he is not comfortable with, but must accept if he wants to survive.
A Kiss of Ashen Twilight was a well-written, intricate story. Ms. Lori’s descriptions are vivid and beautiful, evoking images in my mind that were like watching a movie as I read it. The action scenes were breathtaking, and really put me in the moment, causing me to feel that I was right there as I read them. This book had a strong foundation as an urban fantasy tale with excellent world-building, but the romantic development was equally important. The sensuality was tasteful, and extended outside of the love scenes, showing the sexuality in how the Nightwalkers attracted and fed from their victims, but also showing the strong love bond between Jace and Ariya. Fans of television shows and movies like Kindred: The Embrace, and the Blade and Underworld movies should enjoy this story, although it is in no way derivative. I especially appreciated that Ms. Lori did not gloss over the predatorial nature of the vampire in this story, which tends to be diluted in romantic fiction. Intense and lyrical, I enjoyed this story tremendously. A Kiss of Ashen Twilight stands alone very well, although it is part of a trilogy. Ms. Lori definitely makes me want to read more of the enthralling, sophisticated, yet dark world she has created.