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Review: Kissing Midnight by Emma Holly

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.

B-

:) 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.

11 Comments

  1. Tiffany Clare
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 04:36:55

    I’m a huge Emma Holly fan. I adore all her books. Especially those of the para-persuasion.

    I had been waiting for these for some months. I loved the dynamics in this book (and subsequent). Everything from the two relationships/romances, (Graham’s starts in book two), the evilness of the bad guys, the time period, I loved it all. I wanted to leap right into the second book because of the rash behaviour of Edmund at the end. I’m just glad that Berkeley did back to back, otherwise I might have been ticked off if I had to wait.

    I’m wondering what it says about me that I didn’t see the ick factor in Sally and Ben’s relationship. And their sex scenes were hotter (for me) than Estelle and Edmund’s.

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  2. Babz
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 06:53:41

    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.

    This! Happens to me with so many of her books and I have no idea why. I read Kissing Midnight cover to cover and sad to say it was ho-hum. The second book completely failed to engage me, DNF.

    To be honest, I have now realized I could like or dislike her book within the first 30 pages. If I am not invested in the story by then, I just won’t be. But, when I am, I cannot count the ways I love the book.

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  3. Raine
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 07:48:06

    I enjoyed this book. I loved Estelle and Edmund’s relationship, the way he obviously adored her. I also didn’t get the ick factor with Ben and Sally. They were just two orphans raised in the same home, and their own discomfort at what they were doing was enough for me.

    Graham’s character worked least of all for me. Even if the female upyr did cause him to see what Edmund was physically, she didn’t erase memories of the gentle man who’d raised and cared for him, which he seemed all too eager to dismiss.
    But I would like to have seen more of Robin, the real son, who was quite devoted to his father.

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  4. S. W. Vaughn
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 07:59:05

    Hmm. I may have to read this just to see if the adopted brother-sister thing icks me out. In theory I always thought it would… but I was surprised to discover that the same type of relationship in Frankenstein (the Coppola movie adaption, at least) didn’t bother me at all.

    Thanks for the review!

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  5. Tammy
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 08:26:11

    I agree with Raine; I didn’t get a brother/sister vibe off of Sally and Ben AT ALL. I thought their internal conlict about their relationship – being attracted to each other but raised together in the same house – was addressed very well.

    And I really want to know more about Edmund’s son, Robin. He intrigues me.

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  6. Lori
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 09:19:29

    On the adopted brother/sister thing—if they were raised as siblings from a fairly young age then I think it’s totally gross. I have an adopted brother. Never in a million years would it be OK for us to be a couple. We’re not blood related, but we’re siblings just the same. Assuming otherwise seems really disrespectful to adopted families, like somehow our relationships don’t really “count”.

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  7. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 12:41:24

    On the adopted brother/sister thing-’if they were raised as siblings from a fairly young age then I think it's totally gross.

    If I remember correctly, I believe Sally was adopted when she was about 5 years old. She and Graham acted and treated each other as brother and sister. Why not she and Ben? That’s where my ick factor came in- because they really were raised as a family.

    And I really want to know more about Edmund's son, Robin.

    Me too!

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  8. Lori
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 16:35:32

    If I remember correctly, I believe Sally was adopted when she was about 5 years old. She and Graham acted and treated each other as brother and sister. Why not she and Ben? That's where my ick factor came in- because they really were raised as a family.

    Well, I’ll be passing on this because for me that’s definitely well into the gross zone, or it’s the result of some seriously f’ed up family dynamic in which case their dad wouldn’t be my idea of hero material. (I’ve never known of, and can’t imagine, a healthy family through adoption where some of the kids considered each other siblings and others did not. Certainly not when the child was adopted that young.)

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  9. Evangeline
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 21:34:10

    I absolutely loved this series. I ran to the bookstore on each release date (well, I was so impatient for the last one I downloaded it, so my collection doesn’t match *g*). I too loved the relationships between the characters. I wasn’t icked out by Ben and Sally until book three, but I had to brush it off because the story was so engrossing. A major factor in my enjoyment of the trilogy was the setting! 1930s Britain, Europe and America! How often do you see that setting in romance? Funnily enough, Susan Krinard had a few werewolf romances set in the 1920s and 1930s–so apparently, readers (and publishers) accept paranormals set in the first half of the 20th century, but not readers of historical romance. *shrug*

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  10. lightlyfell
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 04:01:13

    Didn’t like this series, and I normally adore Emma Holly. Two reasons: the relationship between Edmund and Estelle was seriously boring to me. She was painted as the mother type of the clan, and who wants to read about mum getting it on? And Ben and Sally – ick. I’m pretty open minded, but siblings – and yes, they ARE siblings, raised all those years in the same house with the same father – yuck to the extreme. Their scenes were hotly written, I will agree with that. But just wrong. Plus the girl was underage. I just can’t enjoy a story with those elements in place.

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  11. Scarlett
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 08:48:06

    If they were both adopted, they they ARE brother and sister. I have friends who are adopted and their siblings are their siblings, period. The whole idea of this sounds really gross and offensive to adoptive families — as if adoption really doesn’t “count” to make a child a true part of the family, and adopted siblings aren’t “real” siblings because they aren’t biologically related. (As Lori says above.) I’ve liked some EH books in the past, but I’ll pass on this one too.

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