Midnight Angel, by Lisa Marie Rice

>> Thursday, September 22, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, it seemed everyone online was talking about a certain book from Ellora's Cave: Midnight Angel (excerpt), by Lisa Marie Rice.

This one's the third in a series, and the AAR review mentioned that it might be better to read them in order, because this one has spoilers for previous books, but luckily, while I'm fanatic about certain things, having to read books in order isn't one of them... unlike some people I know (yes, I'm talking about you!), so I jumped straight to this one.

Her nightmares don't stop when she opens her eyes…

In one night, talented musician Allegra Ennis lost her sight, her father and her career in a brutal attack she can't remember. Now she's alone in a world of darkness, her only company the nightmares in her head…and a killer is stalking her every move.

Scarred and disfigured by war, tough former SEAL Douglas Kowalski never thought a beauty like Allegra could love someone like him. He doesn't expect more than a one-night stand. But when Allegra's life is threatened, Kowalski realizes he will do anything to keep her safe-and by his side.
MA was a wonderful read. So wonderful, in fact, that after reading for 15 minutes, I broke off to go and order the first books in the series, because I was going to want to read them soon. A B+.

This is very much a character-based story. There's a suspense subplot, but the focus is on Douglas and Allegra's relationship, and for those of for those of you who are a bit leery of Ellora's Cave books, I need to mention that, while this is a very steamy read, when I say that the focus is on the relationship, I mean the relationship and not just the sex, even though the love scenes start almost immediately.

The sex scenes were steamy and numerous, detailed and intense, but they weren't gratuitous at all. Rice used them to develop Douglas and Allegra's relationship and managed to infuse them with so much emotion that my stomach was clenching every couple of pages and I kept getting a lump in my throat. And I read every single page of those scenes. Every. Single. Page. What made the difference was that I cared for these characters and felt I knew them. They weren't just anonymous bodies writhing around.

Douglas was total alpha, and I was surprised at how much I adored him. It was probably because he was one lost little puppy for an alpha, so used to being rejected and stared at in horror. It's sick of me, I know, but I just loved how incredulous he was that Allegra wanted him, how he was ready to do anything to keep her with him. And I probably liked him because his alpha tendencies manifested, not in bullying and dominating Allegra, but in protecting her and wanting to make her happy.

Allegra was a good heroine. I like that, in spite of her appearance, she wasn't all sweetness and light. The lady had a temper and wasn't scared of showing it, and her difficulty in dealing with her recent blindness made her very human.

Once the story moves out of Allegra's house and they start spending a little time apart, the story loses only a little intensity. The suspense subplot moves a bit more into the forefront, so fortunately, it was an ok one. But I was reading solely for Douglas and Allegra, and there was plenty of that there, too.

I do think Ha Nguyen, who reviewed MA for AAR, was spot on, though, and that's the reason I'm giving this a B+ and not an A grade. This is one of those books in which you pretty much feel the author manipulating you, but you don't care. You're too busy eating it up. Still, I admit that, as much as I enjoyed it all, I did feel certain things were over the top. Not that it dampened my enjoyment much, but it has to be said.

I have such high hopes for the first two books! I just hope I'm not disappointed.

Oh, and before I go, I should also mention, given what people who are not really into ebooks seem to assume about Ellora's Cave books (at least, per a recent thread I read in one of the AAR message boards), that nothing in this book would prevent it from published by any print romance publishers. No kink whatsoever here, I've read Harlequin Blazes that are kinkier.


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