Dear Ms. Holly:
I’m a fan of your writing. Most of the time. The problem is that while I’ve enjoyed many of your books, I often tend to drift half way through with either the characters or the story unable to retain my interest. With the publication of your new trilogy about the upyr released in three consecutive months, I decided to go ahead and read all three. I’ll admit that I was a little daunted by such an idea. And while I probably could have used a longer break between each book, the publication dates allowed the story and the characters to stay fresh in my mind.
The year is 1933. Estelle Berenger has been in love with Edmund Fitz Clare since she was fifteen years old. From the moment he appeared in front of her at school, asking the sullen teenager to look after his adopted daughter Sally, Estelle was smitten. Although she doesn’t know it until later, Edmund is also responsible for saving her life shortly after they meet. While in his wolf form, he jumped between her and a lightning strike. Estelle is unharmed for the most part except for a minor scar near her eye, a strong arm, and a "funny ear" which sometimes allows her to hear thoughts.
Through the years, Estelle becomes a good friend of the entire Fitz Clare family including Edmund, Sally, and Sally’s two adopted brothers: plain looking and dependable Graham, and good looking and protective Ben. Because of her childhood accident, Estelle sees through Edmund’s glamour of aging professor to the beautiful and gentle, but slightly tortured man underneath.
Luckily, the point of view doesn’t stay focused on Estelle and Edmund the entire time. Theirs is a pleasant sort of romance, but kind of unexciting after they declare their feelings for the other. They’ve been in love and have desired each other for years, and after the book starts, quickly decide to cast their reservations aside. It was unclear to me why they waited so long unless they needed the impetus of Estelle moving out of the Fitz Clare residence. But it seems to me, characters that react that strongly to each other probably wouldn’t have been able to keep their passions at bay for the two years that they lived under the same roof- at least not in an Emma Holly world.
A similar sentiment could be said about Sally and Ben- yes, that’s right, Sally and Ben. They were raised together as brother and sister, but that doesn’t slow them down much. Hey, at least they waited until Sally was 17, I guess, but then again, I also wondered how they waited so long considering the relentlessness of their desire for the other. I’ll admit to being more than a little icked out by this relationship. Both were pretty quick to disclaim that they were only like brother and sister, but come on, really? Adopted brother and sister still counts as brother and sister in my book. Seriously, um, gross.
Meanwhile, the story shifts back and forth to Graham who is in fact a secret agent working for an organization called MI5. Although his spy work, for the most part, had been pretty boring stuff, that quickly changes when he meets a beautiful woman who tells him of the existence of the upyr and gives him a new assignment: spy on Edmund. The mystery woman, who is herself an upyr, succeeds in thralling Graham into distrusting and doubting his father. And while Graham made me want to pull out my hair at times for being weak, for allowing himself to be thralled, and for believing the worst of a man who has done nothing but love him and shelter and protect him, he was, for me, also the most interesting of the Fitz Clares.
I wasn’t thrilled by the ending. Edmund’s tortured soul and guilty conscious lead him to act rashly, and of course, someone is there to take advantage of that. Thus, the stage is set for book two. For the most part, I was absorbed by the characters- albeit frustrating at times- and the story. I found myself struggling to finish the last part, but that may because I could see what was being set up for us for the next book. Overall, Kiss Midnight was a compelling, but somewhat unsettling book.