Eternal Nights, by Patti O'Shea

>> Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eternal Nights (excerpt) is Patti O'Shea's long-awaited (by me, at least), return to the world she set up in Ravyn's Flight.

Capt. Kendall Thomas has been plagued by dreams of blood, dreams so horrifying they leave her trembling in the night. Kendall has good reason to be afraid. She's discovered thieves are stealing artifacts from the alien city on Jarved Nine, and the smugglers will do anything to protect their lucrative sideline-even commit murder.

The last man Kendall wanted to endanger was her best friend Wyatt Montgomery, but the stubborn Special Ops captain followed her when she went to gather evidence, and the smugglers trapped them both in the city's ancient pyramid. Now by day, they're chased through labyrinthine tunnels, deeper and deeper into the heart of the temple. But in the cloak of darkness, they can no longer deny the powerful force drawing them together, the passionate dreams that leave them aching with need, the touch of skin on skin that makes them long for-ETERNAL NIGHTS.
Friends-to-lovers plots are a weakness of mine, and this was a good one. A B.

If you've read Ravyn's Flight, you'll remember that after trekking for days through Jarved Nine, Damon and Ravyn discovered a mysterious alien city that had originally been settled by a civilization which died because of the evil Damon and Ravyn themselves had been fighting.

Well, Eternal Nights starts a couple of years after this. Kendall Thomas and Wyatt Montgomery are stationed in the Old City, part of a contingent of several thousands troops sent there from Earth. They're very good friends and have been so from the very day they met, when they just clicked.

But Wyatt doesn't want to be just friends with Kendall. He's crazy in love with her. And not just that: Wyatt has always known that he's been reincarnated, and the minute he saw Kendall, he knew she was the reincarnation of the woman who'd been his true love in that past life. Wyatt knows Kendall has certain issues with trust and commitment (and obviously, if he went to her with his weird story about past lives and reincarnated lovers, she'd think he was crazy), so he's been biding his time, trying to advance their relationship step by step.

But that relationship takes some giant steps forward when Kendall discovers a ring of smugglers who've been stealing valuable artifacts from Jarved Nine, and she and Wyatt end up locked up in the mysterious pyramid in the centre of the Old City. And as they explore secret rooms and try to avoid both alien booby-traps and modern smugglers who want to finish them off, Wyatt and Kendall make some explorations of a more personal nature.

Ok, first of all, let's get this out of the way for those of you who are a bit leery of fated / reincarnated lovers plots. So am I. This very definitely isn't a draw for me. I'm often bothered by the lack of self-determination and by the fact that some authors seem to think that because the love is preordained, they don't need to show why and how their characters are in love.

So, did it work here? I thought it did. I liked how O'Shea dealt with the issue of the issue of whether Wyatt was in love with Kendall because she was Kendall, or because she was the reincarnation of Kaliana, "his" lover in that past life. In that sense, I especially appreciated that it's always very clear to him that while Berkant was in love with Kaliana, he is Wyatt, and he's different from Berkant. He, Wyatt, is in love with Kendall, not Kaliana, and in fact, if he were to have to spend time with Kaliana, he would probably want to strangle her after a while. He knows that what he loves about Kendall are the things that make her Kendall and not Kaliana, and I was perfectly convinced of this.

With that out of the way, I'll just say that I loved the friends to lovers thing, and I especially adored the way Wyatt was so in love with Kendall from the very beginning of the book (O'Shea hit on all my favourite plots here... I love unrequited love, especially when the one in love is the hero). Wyatt is a wonderful guy, maybe a bit too good to be true (honourable, kind, respectful, faithful, willing to be as patient as he needs to for Kendall to trust him completely... Not one rough edge to the guy), but I'm not complaining.

I thought the way he felt about Kendall was very nicely done. On one hand, he calls her "Bug" and sometimes seems to feel about her as if she's some sweet, delicate, cute little thing that needs to be cuddled and protected. But at the same time, he's very aware of the fact that she's a soldier and that she's one tough woman, and respects this and relies on her to rise to the circumstances. My kind of guy!

Kendall I had a bit more trouble with. She's smart enough, and her actions don't fall into TSTL territory, but I never completely bought the reasons why she was so reluctant to get involved with anyone. Hmm, actually, I'm not expressing it right. What I didn't buy was the way she thought of those reasons.

Let me explain: I thought it was perfectly valid that Kendall had some issues with abandonment because of her childhood, with her mother always searching out for true love, and Kendall always getting attached to each of the new daddies, and then having to leave them behind when her mom hightailed it out of there to look for her true true love. But she was a bit too rational about this... it reminded me a bit of the heroine's phobia about cops in Lisa Marie Rice's Port of Paradise: I wouldn't have had a problem if what happened was that Kendall intellectually understood that her mother's example shouldn't affect her behaviour, but still couldn't help but be influenced by it, but what I get here is that she firmly believes that this is something that's absolutely true and should affect her life, and that was much too foolish.

Anyway, while this did bother me, it was a minor thing, and I really enjoyed the romance. The pacing was great, with Wyatt and Kendall's relationship only gradually progressing (well, as gradually as it can be in a romance that takes place in a few days). I also liked the way O'Shea integrated the story of Berkant and Kaliana with theirs, with certain things mirroring each other (sometimes to Wyatt's consternation, as he felt the pyramid trying to claim Kendall as its guardian and take over her life, as it had with priestess Kaliana's) and certain others serving to show the difference between these two couples.

The plot, with our protagonists trying to find their way out of the pyramid, dealing both with the pyramid's defenses and with the people who are after them, reminded me quite a bit of a book I read last year, Ring of Fire, by Cinnamon Burke. That one also had its protagonists on an alien planet, trying to figure their way out of a mysterious structure. It was an interesting plot there and it was just as interesting here.

There's a secondary romance in Eternal Nights, and it was the same one as in Ravyn's Flight, continuing the relationship between Ravyn's brother, Alex Sullivan, and her best friend, Stacy. Stacy has discovered that she's pregnant, and this has given her the courage to leave Alex. After a few years, their relationship is still one-sided, with Stacy giving and giving and giving, and Alex never showing that he cares about her other than in bed. So when Stacy finds out the baby is coming, she decides she doesn't want it to grow up with parents in such a relationship, and leaves. Obviously, Alex feels much more than he's showing, he just has problems demonstrating it. This subplot started out very well, but it lost a lot of steam after a while. I liked the resolution well enough, but I wasn't too crazy about it.

All in all, a strong sequel to a book that I very much enjoyed. There's just something about O'Shea's voice that works for me.


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