Friday, August 13, 2010

Ashes of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Ashes of Midnight (Midnight Breed, #6)Ashes of Midnight by Lara Adrian

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Well, I must say I was very pleasantly surprised with Ashes of Midnight. Because I have had a crush on Andreas for a while, I've been looking forward to this book, although this seems to be a least favorite of a lot of fans of this series. Veil of Midnight ended with things in an abysmal place for Andreas. His whole family was wiped out through an act of his enemy, Wilhelm Roth, who is highly placed in the Enforcement Agency. This book begins in medias res of Andreas' brutal quest for vengeance. Andreas has the gift of summoning fire, and he uses it to devastating effect against his enemies. It's only a matter of time when his former love, Claire, ends up in his path. She's the breedmate (term for a wife/life-partner in the vampire world) to his enemy, and has been for thirty years. He left her because of his problem with the uncontrollable fire that wells from deep within him, and when he returned, she was married to Roth. Since then, he's stayed away, and lived the life of a playboy and leader of his Darkhaven in Berlin. But all that was taken away from him by Roth.

Andreas is a man driven by vengeance. The only thing that penetrates this thirst is the love he felt for Claire, which never faded. It puts him in an impossible position, because he won't give up his determination to kill Roth, even if Claire begs him to. Although I didn't always agree with the choices that Andreas made, I could see why he made them. That gave me a level of understanding for his actions. He was truly in a bad place. His gift of firestarting had unwittingly caused him to do something that haunted him with guilt, and he knew that every time he summoned fire, his ability to control this devastating force lessened, and his bloodlust got stronger. Even though he was murdering his enemies in a very brutal fashion, at heart, I could see that he was a good man. He'd just been driven over the edge by his enemy's actions. And he harbored no illusions that his own choices would lead to his own demise. His goal was to destroy Roth, even at the cost of his own life.

I actually ended up liking Claire quite a bit. Marrying Roth was a bad decision on her part, but with Andreas gone and her all alone in the world, she clung to Roth as her only security. She paid dearly for that, trapped in an loveless marriage for thirty years. When Andreas turns up again, she is faced with the horrible conflict of being between the man she loves and the man she owes her loyalty to. Although I thought she was a bit too trusting of Roth initially, I could see why. Claire was a very honorable, loyal person. She made vows and she wanted to keep them. Too bad she made them to the wrong man. That was clear, because she felt the same intense love for Andreas she had felt so many years before, even though he comes back into her life as a violent, enraged, and dangerous man. She's a gentle, but strong person. Her loyalty and steadfast love is the only thing that has the power to save Andreas.

The adventure in this story was really good. I loved the concept of Andreas having the gift of fire. It was very cool and cinematic. And kind of intimidating. He was literally so hot, he could incinerate anything that came near him. He could summon fireballs and make things explode. Very cool. I also liked that his gift had a cost to him. It was getting out of control, and it summoned an insatiable lust for blood. The conflict built to a very good climax, and I was very satisfied with the resolution (which has not been the case with most of the other books).

I thought the love between Andreas and Claire was very apparent. This book was also pretty steamy. Although I don't like adultery in books (to me Claire was married in every sense of the word, even though vampire marriage is different), I felt that they were in a tough situation, and Roth had manipulated both of them, giving them little choices in the matter. I didn't like the idea of Claire being blood-bonded to another man when I heard about this book, but I think Ms. Adrian handled it pretty well. It was clear that Andreas and Claire belonged together, and their bond was a much more powerful one than the bond with Roth.

Ashes of Midnight turned out to be my favorite in this series so far. I think that everything was pretty well done, and Ms. Adrian took one of my least favorite concepts (reunited lovers) and made a very good read with it. She has a good feel for mood and tone. Her writing is clear and strong, telling a fast-moving, interesting story in this book. I felt the urgency of the situation that the Order faces. The threat of the crooked politicians in the Enforcement Agency and the nefarious plans of Dragos. Things are culminating to a very dangerous confrontation with each book. I realized that I don't like all the foul language in this series, but I try to overlook it. I think that it ties into the dark, gritty vibe that Ms. Adrian is going for (even if it causes me more than a few winces when I read). This series just gets better and better in its execution. She tied everything together from the past books very well. It was good to see all the Breed warriors and their mates. I love how Renata fights with the men. She rocks! I think Ms. Adrian does a good job of integrating and involving the breedmates into the work of the Order, making them more than just chess pieces after their book is over. I respect her for that. I am excited to see where things go with the storyline. I look forward to reading Kade, Brock, Chase, and Hunter's stories.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars

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