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REVIEW: Ashes of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Dear Ms. Adrian:

book review I really fell in love with your series with the book featuring Tegan and Elise, Midnight Awakening. I believe it was in that book that we were introduced to Andreas Reichen. Andreas is a German vampire whose entire “family” was killed during a purge of Darkhaven homes who are perceived to be impediments to the ultimate rule of the bad vampires.

Andreas “gift” is overtaking him, spurred in part by his loss of control following the eradication of his family. Andreas is pyrokinetic and his rage literally fuels the fire. As he seeks out revenge against those he knows betrayed him, he loses his ability to harness both his gift and his bloodlust.

Claire Roth is the wife and breedmate of Wilhelm Roth. Roth and Andreas have always been at odds. Roth has been promised power in exchange for helping to eliminate those who stand by the Order, a group of Generation One vampires who hunt down rogue vampires and engage in an ongoing battle to keep humans safe. (As I was writing this review, I had to go back and look at previous books because there is little in this story that explains the nature of the conflict. It’s presented in a very elemental fashion. Andreas is part of the good guy team and Roth, part of the bad).

Claire and Wilhelm maintain a cordial existence but Claire and Andreas have a past. The two fell in love, but Andreas left, fearing his gift would ultimately harm Claire. Hurt and vulnerable, Claire fell easily into the hands of Wilhelm who poured on the charm to win her. The two settle into a peaceable yet far from loving relationship. Here’s where the story breaks down for me.

I was intrigued by the initial play on the breedmate concept but as the world in Ashes appeared to play fast and loose with the original canon, I not only lost interest but became frustrated. There ominous warnings regarding Reichen interfering with the blood bond between Claire and Wilhelm but there were no real repercussions.

Under the mythology you have set up, a breedmate (a female specially capable of breeding/pairing with vampires) has intense sexual and physical reaction to her mate when she drinks the mate’s blood. If she doesn’t drink the mate’s blood, she essentially condemns herself to die. Therefore, in order for Claire to have lived the life she has, she would have to regularly take blood from Wilhelm which implies that she also would be having sex with him, wonderful, orgasmic, blood pumping sex. Yet, this is never, ever addressed. Further, as Claire and Andreas bond, we are told that Wilhelm can tell through the matebond when Claire receives pleasure. Yet, we also know early on that Wilhelm cheats on Claire regularly. What impact does that have on her? What would that do to experience your mate’s pleasure while he is getting it from someone else? These questions are totally unanswered.

I was further disturbed by the fact that Andreas and Wilhelm were both born and bred in Germany, had lived there for years. Yet both of them act like characters from Die Hard.   Of course, Roth is John McClane, big, brawny, capable of handling every task with glass in his feet all the while cursing up a storm. Roth is no more German than Mongolian Beef is Chinese cuisine. His entire aspect from his attire, to his mannerisms, to his way of speech (replete with Anglicized curse words), and rhythm of speech, bespeaks of a non European.

If there is ever a place that diversity would be welcomed, it is the paranormal world. I mean, we have shapeshifters and vampires and aliens. Surely, we can have a few non white Anglo characters right? The most German that a reader is provided is the reference to Claire as Frau Roth a couple of times. I kept wondering what the point was of having German characters without providing us with any international flavor.   It further struck me how homogenous even the paranormal genre is that even a German character doesn’t appear to be any different than the standard Hollywood action hero.

Finally, the idea that one woman’s love could save him from his beast has been done before, not just in the ouvre of paranormal but in this series. Ashes of Midnight is nothing more than one super alpha male being saved by the love of a great woman. There is no nuance in this story and because it’s the same plot recycled from previous stories, there is no suspense either.

The story arc focuses primarily on Andreas and his battle over being consumed by his own fire. Claire has no character arc as serves only as the paranormal cure for Andreas’ illness. I think this is the last of the Breed series for me.

I feel compelled to explain the grade here for a moment. I think the prose is competent, if not a little melodramatic. But because the German background of the characters was so lacking and because the book deviated, I felt, so far from the original canon in order to drum up some conflict and then ease into an easy resolution, I cannot give this a better grade than any book in the series. D

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from an independent bookstore or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

17 Comments

  1. Tae
    May 28, 2009 @ 05:06:29

    oh well that’s too bad, I was really looking forward to this book. I’ll still read it, but I’ll probably have your review in my head when I do.

    By the way, I noticed on that the first book in this series is free on the Sony site.

  2. Jessica
    May 28, 2009 @ 05:15:16

    I really enjoyed the first (Lucan and Gabrielle) and third (Tegan and Elise) of these, the latter being a keeper. I liked the second (Dante and Tess) as well. But the fourth, Rio’s book, was a DNF. For me, the series just started to feel stale at that point, and I had gotten into Cole and Ione. I hadn’t planned on picking up this one unless the reviews were really positive.

  3. Nadia
    May 28, 2009 @ 05:39:30

    @Jessica:

    Rio's book, was a DNF.

    Rio’s book was sooo hard for me to get into as well. I just didn’t care that much about him or the heroine.

    But Niko’s story was much more engaging.

    @Jane: I’m disappointed to read that Lara Adrian changed the rules of her world / mythology to suit ASHES OF MIDNIGHT. :(

  4. KristieJ
    May 28, 2009 @ 06:30:29

    Unlike the BDB series which I didn’t get hooked on – I am hooked on this series. And despite the D grade you give this one – I’m still planning on getting it and crossing my fingers I like it more than you did *g*

  5. theo
    May 28, 2009 @ 07:39:09

    I did get this book, had it on pre-order. But I’m starting to see a trend of my own and that’s that I seem to make it through the first four books in a series, (BDB, Kenyon, Feehan) and find the fourth or fifth book breaking down to where I really don’t care.

    I liked Rio’s book. I responded to his ‘pain’ a whole lot more than I did Z’s in BDB. I thought, at least to me, that Z’s was way too over the top and rather than feel for him, I started cringing. But I liked Butch so I read his and for me, it wasn’t disappointing. Then the next one turned into a huge WTF??? Sounds like the same thing is happening here and that’s a shame because I really liked this series too.

    I’m wondering what the phenomena is with changing the world around book 5/6. Is this the place where the author finds they wrote themselves into a corner with their world early on and think by changing it now, readers won’t notice? Or like some, do they think their readers adore them so much that they won’t care that the world has suddenly fallen apart?

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s none of that. Maybe I just start to lose interest around book 5/6 because I get bored. I just know it’s very disappointing.

    *sigh*

  6. ASable
    May 28, 2009 @ 09:00:59

    I never got into the Midnight Breed series as much as I did the BDB (not sure why), but I did enjoy Tegan’s story. I thought the author managed to develop interesting characters amid an okay good-vamps versus bad-vamps plot. It wasn’t poetry, but it was entertaining.

    I had a hard time with this installment though. I wanted to like the characters, but I couldn’t. For one thing, as Jane pointed out, I was completely thrown by the lack of explanation on the blood bond thing. It bugged me. I mean, that’s a HUGE deal in this author’s world! It’s like suddenly saying, oh, no, vamps don’t really need blood to survive. Only apple juice.

    Huh?

    As for the characters, well, Claire wasn’t really a character to me. She was . . . there. At the beginning, she was a desperate housewife exiled away from her evil husband. (I couldn’t even tell what her precise feelings were for the man before Andreas showed up.) By the middle of the book, she’s a paragon among women. By the end, she is, as Jane points out, a cure to Andreas’ illness.

    Oh, and she likes chocolate and piano.

    That was it. There was absolutely nothing else to her. Every other Breedmates had some kind of character arc going! Poor Claire got shafted.

    I wasn’t sure I leven iked this version of Andreas. In the prior books, he was a smooth and sophisticated businessman. Yes, I got the why of his transformation into this Totally Unstable Andreas Who Cannot Survive Without Claire, but the leap was so darn big, I almost couldn’t make it and for most of the book, I couldn’t figure out why. Then it occurred to me that almost nothing was said about the thirty years in between Totally Unstable Andreas #1 and this Totally Unstable Andreas. It was like the character’s slate had been wiped clean.

    I guess I’m back to my self-imposed paranormal ban again. :(

  7. Randi
    May 28, 2009 @ 09:05:24

    Jane,

    just a little clarification:

    the Order, a group of Generation One vampires who hunt down rogue vampires and engage in an ongoing battle to keep humans safe.

    The Order is made up of non Gen One vamps, as well. And, I believe, their goal is NOT to protect humans, but to keep their existance a secret. Rogue vamps threaten that goal.

    Anyway, not a big deal. I inadvertantly skipped Rio’s book and went to Niko’s; and there was a scene, near the end, where the chick went all TSTL. She even ADMITS that what she was doing was stupid but she was going to do it anyway. Admiting that her behavior could not only kill her, but that it could kill Niko, his friends, and the child she was trying to rescue. Note to authors: having your character admit their stupidness, does not negate said stupid. In fact, it makes me more pissed off, than if the author hadn’t realized they made their character go stupid.

    It was at this point that I had to give up on Lara Adrian. Even if that TSTL moment hadn’t happened, you have it right:

    There is no nuance in this story and because it's the same plot recycled from previous stories…

    This is me, breaking up with Lara Adrain…

  8. Sam
    May 28, 2009 @ 12:17:51

    Oh sugar! My vampire series are dwindling before my very eyes. I have this book in my TBR…….Wowza. While everyone LOVED Teagan’s book I absolutely hated it. That book almost made the DNF pile. I wasn’t crazy about Rio’s book, I thought it was too soon and Niko’s book was much better even with the TSTL heroine, I had some hope.

    Someone mentioned “something happens around book 5/6″, I think what happens is; they make the BIG lists, they have the following (numbers) and the Editors let the leash out. Authors then seem to break rules on their own worlds they created and then we get the “groundbreaking” push the genre rules (insert eye roll). Someone needs to explain this “new” groundbreaking, push the boundaries on the genre that made you a NYT Best Selling Author thing to me. I’m just a little ole’ reader who will soon go to the doctor to have my eyes removed from the back of my head ;p

  9. K. Z. Snow
    May 28, 2009 @ 13:21:49

    A valuable lesson here for authors who write series books. I’m taking it to heart.

    Footnote: I’m kind of surprised to see that the old fated-mate trope is still in use. Hasn’t that pretty much been done-done-done to death? Or is it really popular with readers? Just curious.

  10. Christine Rimmer
    May 28, 2009 @ 14:14:33

    Re the fated mate thing, I still like it when it’s done well and I’ve read it over and over. Consider the source, though. I love marriage of convenience, to this day, and I’ve written at least twenty of them. Since I write contemps, I’ve never used fated mates as an author. But I can see how it would be tempting. Make them fated and have them fight it. Perfect conflict generator.

  11. K. Z. Snow
    May 28, 2009 @ 14:57:41

    Thanks, Christine. As in all things — yes, “done well” makes the difference. (I still have a soft spot for secret-baby stories — ACK! — if they’re somewhat unconventional vis-a-vis standard HQN fare.)

    I tried getting into Adrian’s series starting with the first book. Although it was better than competently written, it just didn’t engage me for some reason.

  12. theo
    May 28, 2009 @ 15:04:38

    Polti claimed there were 36 or 37 plots (finite number), attributed to Ackerman is the quote that there are only 7, somewhere else it’s written there are really only four or five. Who knows?

    But no matter how many there are, there aren’t enough to write a plot never written before. It’s how it’s written that makes it unique. Or not. I agree with Christine, I can read the same plot time and again if it’s done really well and the background has a unique element or feel to it.

    Fated mates is just one of those elements so it has to be unique for me to enjoy it. Just like the secret baby, warrior’s revenge, mistaken identity…they’re all done time and again. I don’t think one can really get away from it. Even the classics repeat plots time and again.

    It’s how they’re written, the unique spin that makes them slightly different that makes us love them.

    Or hate them.

  13. Christine Rimmer
    May 28, 2009 @ 16:00:41

    theo–mistaken identity. I love that plot. I love it when the girl dresses up as somebody’s page. Oh, yes! Re the number of basic plots, not sure either. But I know there aren’t enough–though it’s amazing how many fresh things can be done with the done-to-death. And K.Z., secret baby! Now I’m drooling. It’s a regular pantheon of favorites here.

  14. shuzluva
    May 29, 2009 @ 06:15:58

    DAMN IT! I feel a break up coming. I slogged through Rio’s story (like a few of the readers above) and felt rewarded due to Niko’s story, which happened to be very good and, IMO, a big rebound from Rio.

    Regarding fated-mates, I believe this series relies more on “once there’s a blood bond it can’t be broken”. Most of the Order have taken mates after the age old struggle of thinking that they live the type of life that a mate shouldn’t have to – or can’t – deal with. I do not think that any of them were fated, so to speak, and the blood bond wasn’t formed until after serious deliberation on the hero’s part. Having said that, I had an inkling there might be a rule-breaking problem with Andreas’ book, seeing as Claire is clearly blood-bonded to Wilhelm.

    The issue of a German character not actually being German? Or displaying few traits that would make him European, much less German? That’s just icing on the poo cake.

    Damn, damn, damn. Thanks for the clear-eyed review. But damn.

  15. Margie
    May 31, 2009 @ 19:11:05

    It’s funny, more than one person has mentioned that Niko’s story was an improvement in the series for them because I found the book really frustrating. The problem for me was the ending. I liked the characters and story a lot until the last 40 pages. Rena and Niko both screw up the capture of Dragos (a huge villian) and there are NO consequences. Not even a sarcastic “hey man, nice work!” from his brothers. The order could have captured the head baddie along with all his minions, and no one says anything when Niko and Rena charge in and mess it all up. But of course they couldn’t win…what would the series do then? It felt really contrived and made all the choices and decisions throughout the novel moot and unimportant because there was no fallout caused by the characters’ actions.

    It sounds from this review that the next book only gets worse. Oh, well. I’m trying to save my money anyway.

  16. shuzluva
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 07:45:28

    Margie, I think you have an excellent point about the screwup of the Dragos capture and lack of consequences; however, there might be no series if he didn’t get away. I probably overlooked this due to that silly thought and, for me, the book was an improvement over past installments due to the character development and a stronger heroine.

  17. Margie
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:05:05

    Shuzluva, I did really love Rena. I think it would have made her (and Niko) stronger characters if they had to face consequences because then their decisions to help the girl and each other would have meant more. Maybe my disappointment made me even angrier and less willing to shrug it off. But you are right that Rena was a much stronger and more likable character than is so often written in paranormal romance.

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