Heart of Night, by Taylor Chase

>> Friday, July 01, 2005

Taylor Chase's Heart of Deception was one of the best books I read last year. Heart of Night (excerpt) is its sequel.

They call Sir Adrian Thorne a dangerous man -- and seek to jail him for untold crimes! Yet from the moment Lady Claire Darren feels the touch of his strong hand, she knows the lord is honorable. But as soon as the mysterious, arrestingly handsome Adrian stokes her fiery passions with a kiss, he demands that the lady keep her distance. It is a command Claire is powerless to follow, for she has fallen helplessly, hopelessly in love.

Adrian can ignore his feelings no longer. He needs Claire desperately -- to protect his name and to heal his tormented soul. But he is a baron who must fight to regain his stolen birth right a loner who dares not love -- and he can make no promises, because the danger that stalks him could touch sweet Claire, and that must never be! But once he shares his strength with her, could he ever deny her his heart?
Heart of Night was good, but what made Heart of Deception so unique, so different from other romance novels, wasn't present here. Still, it was a B for me.

What I loved best about HoD was its characters, the element of role reversal in their romance. I loved how Vivian was so different from other romance novel heroines. In HoN, while I did enjoy Adrian and Claire very much, they were more romance novel staples. I'm considering HoN on its own merits, so I'm not really counting this as a strike against it, but it was a bit of a disappointment.

But well, Adrian and Claire were interesting in their own right. Claire was strong, though her strength was more of a quiet kind. She was usually a dutiful daughter, but when it was needed, she was perfectly capable of doing what had to be done, whatever the cost would be to her. She made her decision that she was in love with Adrian and she really did fight for him, both against external circumstances and against Adrian's fears.

Adrian was a very appealing tortured character. He's got very good reasons to be that tortured, but he's a gentle and kind man who doesn't take his problems out on anyone. Chase did a great job with him, especially in the way he gave him a possibility of a HEA. At first I had no idea how she'd be able to manage it, but her solution made sense.

I also enjoyed the setting, the way Elizabethan England came to life throughout the book. Not only does every single scene have a very distinctive flavour, enough that whichever part of the book you're reading, you are fully aware that this is not Regency England, the characters behave like people of their time.

What I most had problems with was the actual plot of the book. Don't get me wrong: it was clever and interesting and made excellent use of the paranormal element (the one flaw I had found in HoD), but the problem is the villain was too, too horrible. The sections detailing his crimes were so graphic they literally made me queasy.

Oh, and I should mention that you probably shouldn't attempt to read this one without reading HoD. Anyone who hasn't will probably be very confused by the first part of the book. I remembered the action in the first book pretty well, so I didn't have any trouble, but I didn't really find my attention fully engaged until well into the story, mainly due to the repetition.

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