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REVIEW: Breaking Midnight by Emma Holly

Dear Ms. Holly:

When I first decided to read and review your latest upyr trilogy, I had the idea that I would write a single review of all three books together. Two paragraphs in, I realized I was going to need more space than a single review allowed.

Breaking Midnight begins shortly after the ending of the first.   While Edmund was attempting to come to terms with himself and his relationship with Estelle, he is suddenly gifted with enough power to transition to Elder. During this transition, he is captured by Li-Hua and Frank, two unpredictable and very dangerous vampires.   Li-Hua and Frank chain him up, torture and starve him in an attempt to learn the secrets that only Elders know: how to change a human into an upyr.

Meanwhile, Estelle, Sally, Graham and Ben are doing their best to look for Edmund.   One night, Estelle dreams that she’s with Edmund, although a thinner Edmund than she’s used to.   After a few more dream visits, Estelle begins to realize that these aren’t simple dreams at all. Despite her best efforts, she struggles to uncover clues as to his location.

After closing Kissing Midnight, I was a little concerned where the second book would go. I wasn’t sure I could take more of just the Edmund/Estelle and Sally/Ben relationships.   Thankfully, book two introduces Pen Anderson, the daughter of Graham’s former boss at MI5.   Pen’s a prickly, independent young woman. Although she has always liked Graham, she doesn’t really think all that highly of him either.   Convinced that Graham needs her help in finding Edmund, she thrusts herself into the middle of the FitzClare family crisis regardless of whether anyone actually wants said help.

But Graham isn’t the same reliable, mild young man anymore.   Believing that the best way to help find his father is to become upyr, Graham turns to Edmund’s biological son Robin for help.   The change to vampire creates subtle but compelling differences with Graham: he’s taller, better looking, more commanding, and more confident.     And what he doesn’t need or want is his former boss’s annoying daughter involving herself in Fitz Clare business.

Like the other relationships, there’s not much anticipation or build up before Graham and Pen are jumping in bed. Or, rather, on the floor of a train.   Together, Pen and Graham find in each other the perfect sexual partner.   They can express their desires and needs to each other in ways they having never been able to share with anyone else.   Outside of bed is another story.   When not tearing each other’s clothes off, Pen and Graham are two very guarded individuals. Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them.     Pen is a bit of a mystery in book two, but for Graham, he is still dealing with the betrayal from his handler at MI5 and how easily he was fooled into turning against his father.

Breaking Midnight also introduces Durand, rogue upyr and mercenary. Durand somehow ended up working for Li-Hua and Frank, and is assigned to guard Edmund.   Durand is an odd combination of honorable and ruthless. It’s that hint of honor which is at odds with his current employment.   I liked this mysterious upyr quite a bit. In fact, whenever the point of view shifted back to Edmund, it was about Durand I was more interested in reading.

Of the three, Breaking Midnight was the most difficult to finish, and the one that took the longest.   Perhaps that’s because I found Edmund’s angst at the end of the first book and his subsequent capture a little contrived.   For me, his imprisonment by these two vampires was a little hard to follow for an entire book.   Breaking Midnight also features the rather convenient dream waking scenes so that Estelle is able to pin point Edmund’s location and narrow the search.   Of course, it also allows them to have sex even while they’re thousands of miles apart.   I probably could have done without the latter.   By the second book, Estelle and Edmund had become my least favorite couple and that’s including the icky brother sister Ben/Sally pairing.   It’s not that I disliked them. I just found them rather tedious.   I was glad that you shifted the book’s focus to Graham and Penelope and looked forward to learning more about where their relationship would progress.

C+

:) Joonigrrl

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Leslie S

can usually be found hunched over her ebook reader or lurking in the romance and sci-fi/fantasy sections of her local bookstores. She discovered her love of fantasy at a young age, reading everything from Piers Anthony to Robert Aspirin and C.S. Lewis. At the age of 12, she picked up a little book called The Thorn Birds, and after crying for five days straight, decided that she liked the romantic elements, but needed a happier ending. Her first tentative visits to the romance section brought her to such favorites as Linda Howard and Judith McNaught where her love of the romance book was born. She then turned to Brenda Joyce, Lisa Kleypas, J.D. Robb, Anne Stuart, and as the years passed, many more. She currently prefers paranormal romance, urban fantasy, traditional fantasy, historical and the occasional YA.

8 Comments

  1. maddie
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 15:45:50

    I have the first book but I did not finish it. It kind of dry and I lost interest in so much that I didn’t bother picking up the last two.

    Weird thing is she used to be an auto buy for me, but since she went Paranormal it’s more of a miss with me.

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  2. Sayoko
    Sep 05, 2009 @ 03:58:19

    I only read the first book in the series, and it was a DNF. Which is exactly what I had expected.
    For years I’ve been praying that she goes back to writing contemporaries and historicals with little or no paranormal elements at all.

    I’ve always suspected that she was “invited” to shift towards the paranormal genre because this is what sells, but maybe I’m wrong…
    I also suppose that the publisher hoped this series became a huge hit. Which didn’t happen, as far as I know. It would be so wonderful if she went back to writing something like “Velvet Glove”, “Menage” or “Beyond Innocence”.

    I’m just so tired of vampire stories, alternate realities and closely connected books that scream “collect us all!!”.
    Emma Holly was a sort of pioneer for erotica and MMF stories, I wish she focused on that instead of those dratted vampires XD

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  3. Ann Bruce
    Sep 05, 2009 @ 09:47:35

    @Sayoko: I highly doubt she was “‘invited’ to shift towards the paranormal genre,” since I received an early version of Demon’s Daughter from her years and years ago before she became well known.

    Also, I don’t consider Ms. Holly to be a pioneer for erotica and MMF stories. That would be Black Lace.

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  4. Sayoko
    Sep 05, 2009 @ 12:18:00

    Oh, well. I’m glad at least she had fun writing those “Upyr” paranormal stories, because I sure didn’t have fun reading them.

    When I refer to Emma Holly as a pioneer, I mean within the American romance. When Strange Attractions came out in 2004, the MM and MMF scenes it contained were quite groundbreaking, I think. The other trade paperbacks with ménage romances came out later. The ebooks dealing with MM or MMF stories were just in their initial phase.

    Black Lace was a British imprint, and many of those books weren’t romances.
    Also, I’ve read many Black Lace novels, but I have found very few MMF stories. And everytime I read a discussion about the best Black Lace authors, Ms. Holly’s name is the first that pops up. So she might not be among the earliest Black Lace authors, but she’s definitely one of the very best.

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  5. Ann Bruce
    Sep 05, 2009 @ 18:13:11

    @Sayoko: I guess you and I have to disagree about Ms. Holly’s work because I don’t consider most of her work, especially her contemporaries, even the ones for Berkley (and Black Lace books are all erotica), to be romance. At most, I would classify them as romantic erotica.

    As a side note, ménage doesn’t mean what you and the general English-speaking reading public think it means. It means “household” or “management of a household” in French. Technically speaking, you can have a ménage à un.

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  6. Sayoko
    Sep 06, 2009 @ 10:31:38

    I see how classifying novels can be tricky and subjective. Personally, I apply the RWA definition (“a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending”). The ending of Strange Attractions, for instance, felt definitely romance-like, as opposed to Tempted by Megan Hart, which dealt with a similar situation, but in a realistic and “bitter” manner.

    Yes, I know about the word ménage. As a matter of fact, I used it because that’s how the English-speaking readers generally use it. My first language is not English, and I’ve studied French for several years.

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  7. Ann Bruce
    Sep 06, 2009 @ 12:29:51

    My first language is not English, and I've studied French for several years.

    Ah, so you’re an enabler.

    Next thing I know, it’ll be acceptable to drop accents in French…as I’ve seen in several books now.

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  8. DS
    Sep 06, 2009 @ 14:20:58

    @Ann Bruce

    Next thing I know, it'll be acceptable to drop accents in French…as I've seen in several books now.

    You can probably blame that on the computer. When I write by hand I put the appropriate accents in, but I have to look up the symbol chart every time when it comes to the computer.

    ReplyReply

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