Review: A Kiss of Shadows (Meredith Gentry series novel #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton
Title: A Kiss of Shadows
Series: Meredith Gentry series – book #1
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Recommended reader age: 18+
Sexual content level: On the heavy side of moderate
Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse
Meredith Gentry is dark fae, ah, gentry… but she doesn’t want to be. Ok, she *wants* to be, but she doesn’t want to deal with the daily assassination attempts at the Unseelie Court. In hiding for 3 years, Merry has been working as a detective and avoiding being recognized as the world-famous “Princess Meredith” until a case gets personal and she’s finally exposed. Suddenly in a race for her life, the adventure begins. True to form, author Laurell K. Hamilton (LKH) gives us lots of men and danger with a sprinkling of humor.
LKH makes memorable characters. The leads are strong, both in body and spirit, but they’re also flawed. I like that. When a story is written in first person, like all LKH books are, I need to be able to identify with the narrator, and Merry Gentry is enjoyable to read. She’s not as kick-ass as Anita Blake, but she’s also not as pious as Anita is in her earlier novels. Merry is quick-witted, temperate, determined, and able to defend herself without coming across as a female Rambo like Anita Blake (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I <3 how Anita comes in guns blazing!). Add in a little magic, court intrigue, and the beginnings of a harem of baby daddies (yes, literally a harem), and this book sets the tone for a fun series to follow. I’m not as hooked as I have been on the more recent Anita Blake books or Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones novels, but the Meredith Gentry series is definitely worth continuing.
Ok it’s Laurell K Hamilton, so I have to talk about the sex. There’s actually not as much of it as I expected, after speeding through all 19 Anita Blake books, and it’s not as explicit or continental. There are two-ish actual sex scenes, but the entire book is sprinkled with flirting and foreplay (some of it pretty damn close to counting as a scene). I LOVE how she puts all her male characters in crazy outfits and then makes them uncomfortable in them! I mean, if I had my guy wear leather and chains (which would take a lot of convincing on my part) and he was blasé about it, something would really be off about that. LKH seems to approach sex from a more realistic standpoint… well, as realistic as this type of novel gets anyway. She allows the characters fairly free reign of emotion, real emotions of vulnerability, shame, and even lack of confidence, and it makes the stories more personal and likeable even when things are happening that aren’t pleasant.
Another thing I like about the fairy setting of this book is that the main male characters don’t “die” at dawn. I really like Jean-Claude and Asher and the other vamps in the Blake series, but having them forced out of the stories at dawn drives me nuts sometimes! Here here to fairy stamina! *wink*
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If you’ve read A Kiss of Shadows and liked it, you might check out the Cassandra Palmer series from Karen Chance. To me, Merry’s adventure-style story and overall personality are closer to Cassie Palmer than to Anita Blake. This story also reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) in the earlier novels, before the politics started taking over the plotlines, albeit with a more cosmopolitan attitude about sex.
On tea parties and levitating tea cups…
The china saucer touched my hand, and I carefully uncurled my fingers and took it out of the air. It would have been easier to put my entire hand under the saucer to cradle it, but that was not ladylike. I’d learned to drink tea to rules of etiquette that were a hundred years or more out of date. The next dangerous point with a hot beverage being levitated is that when the person takes the levitation away, the cup gets heavier. Almost everyone sloshes a little tea over the side the first few times. No shame in it. I didn’t slosh any tea. Gran and I had our first tea party when I was five.
I love the little things like this that LKH adds to her stories. They give them credibility and make them feel more personal and real. Instead of trying to force the readers to superficially accept some stated law of her universe, she doles it out in little snippets of memory or matter-of-fact statements that are in context (to help you understand) but have no dedicated explanation.
LKH does not do cliff hangers, even as part of a longer series. Yay for an author that actually finishes a story while still allowing you to enjoy it in series! This is the first author I’ve read, aside from the most recent Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novel, that does that, and I LOVE it!! <3
|4.0 fangs: BITE IT!|