Red Sage Publishing, $14.00, ISBN 0-9648942-3-8
Fantasy Romance, 2004
The vampire romance is a formula nowadays but Angela Knight manages to make everything about The Forever Kiss her own. The only problem I have with this book is the heroine. She’s supposed to be feisty but her whiny, bitchy complaints get really annoying after a while. The thing is, she just won’t stop, damn it.
I believe Christine Feehan has first dips on this plot. Valerie Chase watched her parents getting killed by vampires when she was a young girl and the trauma sends her to mind-bond with someone she calls Cowboy. Later, Cowboy becomes her fantasy friend, and as her hormones kick in, even fantasy lover. The thing is, Cowboy is actually very real: he is Cade McKinnon, a vampire. Worse, he was once under the command of Edward Ridgemont, an old vampire who wants Valerie for sinister reasons. Cade now has to protect Valerie – once a Texas Ranger, always a Texas Ranger after all – and what seems like a personal vendetta soon escalates into an epic battle of good versus evil. Cade’s ghostly sister is around to provide Valerie with some moral support.
Where shall I start?
The vampires are cool. Cade is tortured, as to be expected, but he is a proactive guy who kicks ass instead of moaning endlessly about his past. He’s also honorable and he gets things done. Everything about him is a potent combination of what makes a hero sexy and, er, to die for. The bad guys also exhibit some two-dimensional traits so they are interesting characters instead of merely cardboard caricatures. Ms Knight also knows how to skilfully weaves epic-scale plots that refuse to let me stop reading. Therefore, in this book the sex is hot, the plot is riveting, and the hero is swoon-worthy.
The downside is the heroine. Valerie is a weak character compared to Cade and for the longest time, her typical trust/lust issue with Cade is tedious to follow. Valerie also tries to pull that wisecracking spunky tough heroine act but she is more grating than anything else. It is only late when she realizes why the villains want her and she finally pulls a heroic stunt that she finally redeems herself in my eyes. Even so, echoes of her unfunny barbs still echo in my skull. On the bright side, Valerie isn’t stupid. She has her wits around her and she knows when to act and when to step back and let the big boys knock each other out.
The writing is quite rough in the sense that this book could use an extra round of editing here and there, but the story between the pages is more than enough to make up for it. Angela Knight has a large cult following since her short story days and with books like The Forever Kiss, she’s giving them a good reason to stay with her as she moves on to bigger things.