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REVIEW: Stay the Night by Lynn Viehl

Dear Ms. Viehl:cover-2

I’ve been a fan of yours ever since I picked up Star Doc about 9 years ago. I haven’t been quite so thrilled by your Darkyn books, but have had some favorites such as 2008’s Evermore. Despite some frustration with the series, I was sad to hear that this was your final novel about the Darkyn and I was eager to see how you would conclude it all.

Stay the Night is Robin’s book. Well . . . sort of. Robin of Locksley-that’s right, I said Locksley- has been stealing from the rich for the last 700 years. With the help of his Darkyn powers of persuasion, he can charm just about anyone into doing almost anything.   The FBI has dubbed him The Magician for his most recent larcenous exploits involving the theft of priceless works of art.

Chris Renshaw is a special agent for the FBI. She was recently transferred to the Chicago office amid a scandal involving her partner’s firing and subsequent suicide. Chris   (you have a tendency to masculinize your heroines’ names: Alex, Nick, Chris, Jayr and Sam) knows that the Magician is somehow involved and is more determined than ever to bring this thief to justice. She leads the operation to find him and goes undercover as an arts dealer.

Christ meets Robin while conducting surveillance at a local bar. Robin’s attempts at seduction are successful and although we don’t know all that goes on in the bedroom (fade away), apparently "[s]he’d done things with him that weren’t even mentioned in the Kama Sutra." Whatever happened, Robin’s pride is hurt when he wakes up to discover that she has left him with nothing more than a thank you note. He realizes that she was all along resistant to the l’attrait, the seductive power shared by all Darkyn, and starts digging until he finds out her real identity.

The Feds decide to exhibit The Maiden’s Book of Hours in an attempt to draw out The Magician. Robin has been coveting the   ancient manuscript for hundreds of years and has every intention of taking it from the federal agents. Unbeknownst to him, someone else wants that book even more and will stop at nothing to get it. When The Maiden’s Book is stolen and humans and Darkyn lives are held hostage, Chris and Robin go to Rome to recover it.

Like all of your Darkyn novels, your story is told in multiple points of view. Besides Chris and Robin, the book shifts to at least 10 other characters including the series protagonists- Alex and Michael Cyprien. On the one hand, it’s nice to see a hero and heroine get a continuing story that goes beyond their HEA . I like Alex and Cyprien and enjoy reading about their romance and seeing their relationship grow in each book. But on the other hand, the romance between the hero and heroine in most of the other books doesn’t get as much attention as it needs.   As a result, it is often underdeveloped and flat- especially when compared to Alex and Cyprian’s relationship. This book is no different. Come on, Philippe and his lover had more chemistry in their one scene than Chris and Robin did in the entire book combined.

You try to create some relationship conflict by pairing Robin- the ultimate thief- with an upstanding law abiding federal agent. She blames Robin for her partner’s death. She’s upset with him and his ability to charm random bystanders into handing over whatever he wants- whether it’s a house, a car or a pass through customs. But besides some mild protestations, she never forces the issue and her ethical code and any possible conflict therewith eventually just takes a back seat to the rest of the action.

What is also annoying is your tendency to break up the pacing by switching to another scene just when things are starting to get good. Rather than keeping me in suspense, I grew frustrated with your frequent pov shifts. For example, you cut away from the bedroom scene between Chris and Robin only to switch to Gordon Middleton, customs checker at Heathrow Airport. You cut away from Alex just when she discovers that the Brethren have stepped up their attacks by using a deadly new heretofore undetectable weapon. It happens again and again throughout the novel, stopping the action each time it begins to picks up. Other readers certainly may have no problem with this and instead consider this to be skillful plotting, but basically it made me want to throw your book against the wall.   While I admire your ability to take us into various characters’ povs, I did not appreciate the frequency of such shifts or your timing.

I did enjoy this last Darkyn novel more towards the end. We find out the significance of The Maiden’s Book of Hours and realize the true purpose for which it was intended. The book’s purpose is intriguing and it made for some tense moments when we discover just how far a certain character will go to exact his or her revenge.

I know you had decided to conclude this series in part because you were worried about losing reader interest as well as just dragging out the story longer than you should. So while I progressed into Stay the Night, I was very curious as to what we’d see in terms of the war that has been brewing between the Brethren and the Darkyn. The Brethren have been the series antagonists from the beginning. They’ve tortured, killed, genetically altered and physically and emotionally scarred many of the Darkyn. Their attacks continue off page in this book with the introduction of a new threat. In fact, quite a bit of Stay the Night is spent with Richard, Michael and the other Darkyn lords deciding whether to wage war with their enemy. So what kind of resolution do we get?

Stay the Night is not exactly the novel I was hoping it would be.   Perhaps I had too high expectations with it being Robin’s story and the final one of the series.   You did create several very interesting moments towards the end and while I enjoyed the ongoing story with Alex, Michael and Richard and appreciated the rich and solid world that you created and continued to develop, this book’s weakest links were the underdeveloped Chris and Robin and their tepid romance.

C+

:) Joonigrrl/Leslie

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format.

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.

25 Comments

  1. Emmy
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 14:45:48

    I prefer her StarDoc books to the Darkyn series, but I’m just that much of a nerd.

    I think I was less than pleased with Stay the Night because I thought it would be the end of the series, with all the loose ends wrapped up. Instead, it’s more of a transitional piece to the next series, the Kyndred. I think if I had known that going in, I would have enjoyed it more. I got to the end and had a huge WTF moment

  2. Michelle
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 15:24:49

    I read the first book in the Darkyn series and LOVED it. I couldn’t wait to read the 2nd – and was very disappointed that I could not make myself even finish it. Since you’ve read the whole series, should I bother to go back to it or just write it off as having lost me after book 1? In other words, is book 1 the best in the whole series?

  3. Emma Petersen
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 15:43:03

    Haven’t read your review yet but I’m going to say this anyway. I totally don’t agree with the C+. Lynn Viehl is the fricking master of creating a kick ass series. Seriously. I started reading several other series about the time I read If Angels Burn (still my favorite title of all times) and hers is the only one I continue to read.

    End obsessive fan girl rant here. LOL. Sorry about that. I will now go read your review.

  4. Emma Petersen
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 15:44:13

    I was sad to hear that this was your final novel about the Darkyn…

    What? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  5. Emma Petersen
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 15:55:21

    WAH! It can’t end here. OMG. Are you trying to kill me Ms. Viehl? Seriously. It can’t end here. There’s so much left unanswered. What about L* and J*? Omg. And J*’s hand? And where does L* go. OMG. I am so not above begging. But please oh please don’t end it here. It’s bad enough I have to wait until November for the Kyndred book but no more Darkyn? That’s like someone destroying all the chocolate in an 18 mile radius of my house. I’m devastated.

    p.s. Even though Ms. Viehl is trying to kill me I still don’t agree with the C+

  6. Jane
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 16:05:35

    @Michelle: I think that the first book is the best in the series, particularly from a romance pov. I think Viehl gets too many plot threads going at one time and then tries to resolve them in contrived ways in the latter parts of the series.

  7. Emma Petersen
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 16:13:31

    @ Michelle- I’m probably biased (Yes, I said that with a straight face) but yes, you should definitely read the entire series. I thought it got better with every book. Besides if you stop at two you’ll miss Lucan’s book and you DEFINITELY don’t want to do that.

  8. Lori
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 16:40:23

    @Michelle: I didn’t think the 1st was the best either, and I thought the 2nd was one of the weaker books. There are definitely later books that I enjoyed more. Of course if what you hated about the 2nd one was the exploration of the Kyn’s backstory, as opposed to the relationship, then you might as well not read any more because that aspect continues to get a lot of attention.

  9. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 16:54:33

    Since you've read the whole series, should I bother to go back to it or just write it off as having lost me after book 1? In other words, is book 1 the best in the whole series?

    I almost gave up on the series each time a new one came out, but ultimately I’m glad that I didn’t. Evermore was one of my favorite books from last year. The first book and Evermore are tied for me as my series favorites.

    I think Viehl is a very talented writer, but I think she’s usually at her weakest with the romance. If you were having trouble finishing the second book then you may have trouble with the rest as well.

  10. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 17:03:25

    WAH! It can't end here. OMG. Are you trying to kill me Ms. Viehl? Seriously.

    Emma, I do not think that this is really the end of the Darkyn. Her new series is supposed to be in the same universe. She has also promised that Lucan and Sam will appear in the first book . . .

  11. ilona andrews
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 17:07:56

    Nothing to do with nothing:

    I kept seeing your posts and I keep noting to myself that your name was misspelled all the time.

    I just now GOT it.

    I R slow.

  12. Heather
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 17:42:26

    I read and really enjoyed the one with the biker chick, but it wasn’t until the end of the book that I realized that I had read others in the series. They made no impression whatsoever. So I decided not to go back to read the ones I missed, but just moved on with the new ones. But that biker chick one remains my favorite.

  13. Tae
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 17:54:28

    oh man I’m another Darkyn fangirl. I love the series and I really really really loved Evermore. I don’t want them to end! I haven’t read the Stardoc series yet, though I want to. I’m a SF/F reader primarily, so I’m looking forward to that series.

  14. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 18:11:11

    Tae, I absolutely love the Stardoc books. I think I’ve read that series twice over at least. Cherijo and Duncan are two of my all time favorite characters. I’m going to be so sad when that series ends- which is supposed to be 2 books from now I believe.

  15. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 19:19:44

    I’m a total SL Viehl/Lynn Viehl/Jessica Hall/Gena Hale whore and I adore every word I’ve ever read. Stardoc is definitely my fave series, but I love the Darkyn, too.

    I think Viehl is a very talented writer, but I think she's usually at her weakest with the romance. If you were having trouble finishing the second book then you may have trouble with the rest as well.

    Actually, I enjoyed the books more as they went on-the first was decent, second was decent and I became more and more intrigued with each book after.

  16. Nikki
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 19:28:40

    I was a little disappointed with the last two books. I wouldn’t rate them C but maybe a B/B-. I thought that there were some major plot points introduced in Twilight Fall and Stay the Night that really didn’t get dealt with. I had questions that needed answering and my curiosity was roused more by those than the relationships. Like seriously, Philippe (so wanted more details), the other Darkyn leaders, etc.

    Looking over the series, it felt more like the ongoing romantic adventures of Cyprien x Alex. However, in the books where the main characters really took over, the overall story was better. I agree that Evermore was really the best after the first book. The relationship between Byrne and Jayr was … engrossing. On the other hand, in Twilight Fall, I really wanted to know more about everyone else. I wonder if the books were a little bit longer I would have felt less unfulfilled.

    Regardless, I am looking forward to the next series. Even if Stay the Night was a pink monstrosity

  17. Mireya
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 20:41:08

    @Heather: That’s Night Lost. Loved that story too. I have enjoyed the whole series, and have to say Evermore was not a highlight for me. I liked Twilight Fall a lot more. I am hoping that, somehow, some of those plot holes that are being left open, will be somehow patched in any related series. Btw, did you guys get the novellas? 2 free in her Blog and one available for purchase? They are exclusively available in eformats if memory serves.

  18. Emma Petersen
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 23:21:59

    Emma, I do not think that this is really the end of the Darkyn. Her new series is supposed to be in the same universe. She has also promised that Lucan and Sam will appear in the first book . . .

    Okay. I feel a little better. But only a little. I loved the way she wrote them because I could never get enough of Cyprien and Alex.

    @ Mireya. I did pick up the Will Scarlet one. I’m saving it though.

  19. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 04:05:52

    I’ve not read this one yet, but I’ve read all the others. Like Kenyon, Viehl seems to be moving away from the romance and towards the urban fantasy area, and talking with fellow authors, this seems to be a definite new trend and something some agents and publishers are keen on.
    Me, I’m a romance fan. I love the romance, and when a book is labelled as such, that’s what I want, so the author has to get me past that. However, I’ve enjoyed the series, Viehl’s different narrative styles and her very different world, even when it pushes out the romance, and I adored Cyprien’s story, so I’m up for this one, too.

  20. Mireya
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 05:30:41

    Lynne, I agree with you. I am mostly a romance fan, and the deviation from romance that I am seeing from some paranormal romance authors that I used to consider favorites, is beginning to concern me. J.R. Ward’s latest is a perfect example. I am waiting to see if the next book will come back to her original formula in which the romance was the center point, even if she was world building around it. If not, my autobuy will continue narrowing with this seeming trend.

  21. vanessa jaye
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 08:52:53

    I haven’t read this one yet (just bought it a couple of days ago). But count me as another Viehl fangirl. I have the complete series but I’ve been reading them out of order as the mood strikes me (because i suck like that (and i do that with all series)). I’ve enjoyed all of them, some more than others, so far. My favourites (so far) are the first and the last one, Evermore.

  22. Michelle
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 09:49:57

    Thanks, everyone. If I remember correctly, I had a hard time buying the role of dreams in book two, but it’s a bit foggy. I liked book 1 so much that I bought the first five or so of the Stardoc series, but they’re still in my tbr pile since I couldn’t finish book 2. I think I’ll pick up the Stardoc series, and if I like that, I may give the darkyn series another go.

    @Lynne – It does seem like a lot of the romance/urban fantasy hybrids I’ve read are starting to go more towards the uf side. Since I’m mroe of a romance reader, this makes me very sad, but I wonder if it means it’s harder to write a satisfying romance.

  23. Carlie
    Jan 31, 2009 @ 23:59:23

    I am a vampire lore fan in general. It started back with the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and dwindled for a while until I stumbled across Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, followed by the movie, and then later the TruBlood series on HBO. After I read Twilight, I began to look around on Amazon for any other possibly related books and I came across If Angels Burn. I read the little blurb and thought, “Why not, it’s a fairly inexpensive paperback, let’s give it a try.” I bought it, read it, and LOVED it. The day I started reading it (before I finished it), I got back on amazon and ordered the rest of the series, which at the time only went through Evermore. I finished Evermore and the wait was excruciating for Stay the Night’s release.

    Stay the Night, for me, was riveting. I loved it! The beginning (as in most books) was somewhat slow. And then, all of a sudden you were fully submersed back into the world of the Darkyn. Every page brought me that much closer to finding out more of the Bretheren or the Darkyn pathogen, or just as important, another steamy sex scene.

    Honestly, I don’t think that there’s much that could have made me happier about this entire series. I’m one of those readers that when I find a series I like, I never want it to end, especially when they keep me as satisfied as this one did. My advice to those who were less than thrilled…don’t read it. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t love being sucked into the intricate world that Viehl spins throughout every book, interconnecting characters and plot lines with new tantalizing details revealed in each one.

    As opposed to having things that I would like changed, I have a wish list of things that I hope are included in the Kyndred series:
    1.) More about Phillipe!!!! All I could do when I read that was shout, “I KNEW IT!”
    2.) More about the other seigneurs and their jardins
    3.) More on Nottingham
    4.) Should any of the old characters (aside from the more prominent ones) come back from the Darkyn series, that they would play a more intricate part where we learn more about them now, I mean, just because you’re Darkyn and you find your sygkenis doesn’t mean it’s all happily ever after, one name comes to mind to prove that point: Korvel.
    5.) More Lucan…he was quite possibly my favorite Darkyn…yum yum yum.
    6.) A continuation, as always, of Alexandra and Michael

    Sorry about all of that. Thanks for listening to me ramble!

  24. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Feb 01, 2009 @ 03:21:52

    I don't understand why you wouldn't love being sucked into the intricate world that Viehl spins throughout every book, interconnecting characters and plot lines with new tantalizing details revealed in each one.

    I think you hit on where some of my frustration lies with this series. If Angels Burn was one of my favorites, but after that Viehl kept developing different story lines and characters until the romance suffered. These books are marketed as romances and aimed at romance readers, but the romance often came second and third to the rest. I’m a big fan of vampire lore, too, and fantasy in general, but it’s not enough to create an interesting world and mythology. If an author writes a paranormal romance, and fails to adequately develop said romance then the book has failed on some level. For example, I closed this book and wondered: how and why did Chris and Robin fall in love with each other? Probably not the reaction this author was hoping for.

    I am also a big fan of Buffy :) I just bought the series recently and am re-watching the show- currently on season five.

    You’re a fan of True Blood? Have you read the books by Charlaine Harris? The first one is Dead until Dark.

  25. Carlie
    Feb 01, 2009 @ 04:08:07

    I do agree that the romance between Michael and Alexandra is most developed, even if you just look at If Angels Burn. It specifically describes the connection going on between them, but shouldn’t it, as they are the cornerstone couple of the series? However, I do have to disagree that the other books are lacking romance, as they may just in fact be another type of romance.

    Quite frankly Viehl might have been trying to target a different type of romance audience. A lot of times when people get married, after a while their passion starts to loose that raw animal luster. Women in those relationships yearn for a man who can look at them and make them feel as if they are the center of the universe, as if you are quite literally the one thing in the entire world that they can’t live without. At least… relationships can start that way, and that’s exactly what each of these books gave us, was the beginning of a relationship. And I mean, come on, what single woman doesn’t want so dashing buff billionaire club owner to make it blatantly known that they want you, in the purest animalistic instinctual form…especially if it then turns into him needing you with him for the rest of his eternal life because the thought of you leaving could drive him insane? Sometimes love is irrational, and you have no idea how, when, or why it happened, all you know is that it did. Does each individual romance need to be explicity drawn out? That’s why we have Michael and Alexandra. Without the other books and their different POVs, we would never have the complexity surrounding Cyprien and Alex that we pretty much all adore.

    Would I like to know more about the other couples? Absolutely. I’m hoping we get some in the Kyndred series after their relationships have matured some. Not whole books again, but little snips here and there. Also my hope for the Kyndred series is that she can pare back the number of plot lines a bit so that we can focus now. I didn’t complain about it for the Darkyn series because a lot of times for an elaborate idea such as this, it’s very important to set the stage and all the players.

    I think what people might be failing to remember is that this was a series not about just a couple of people who fall in love, but rather an entire world. They are each a Novel of the Darkyn, not Individual Darkyn Romance. Would I be upset with more romance? No, but I think (hope) that we can get some more in the Kyndred series. Goodness knows that Viehl has the talent to write it.

    As to your other response comments (which I enjoyed :D ).

    I too have the Buffy series (gotta love e-bay) and it’s my go too for whenever I’m sick/pms-ing/just plain upset about something. Kind of like comfort food.

    Yes, I have the Sookie Stackhouse series of books, but I just started reading Dead until Dark. I’m not very into it yet. I had already started the Darkyn series when I started to really get into TruBlood, so I was committed to this one before I could get into the next. With the worlds and characters that some of these authors create, I don’t know how some of you juggle multiple series at a time.

    I’m always looking for my next series. The vampire romance genre is my favorite, but I’m up for something different. After reading through these posts, someone had mentioned J.R. Ward, so I’ll take a look into their work, see what there is to see.

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