Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-8217-8067-1
Fantasy Romance, 2008
Oh, I have to laugh. Jacquelyn Frank’s Elijah, the third book in her The Nightwalkers series, is a revelation of sorts. No, this isn’t a good book, since the author has a tendency to ramble on and on in expositions that she sometimes forgets that she has rambled on about the same thing only a page before. This one, like the previous two books in the series, is an uninspired cobbled-together hodge-podge of paranormal mate-mate-mate romance clichés to the point that this story has pretty much zero suspense to anyone who has read enough of such romances. But there is something here that sets it a little higher than the previous two books in the series: the heroine is the one in the dominant role here and, for reasons that I don’t know but am certainly thankful for, the author has removed the worst of her excessive purple prose in this story.
Elijah, our hero, is the Captain of the Demon warriors, “the elite army at the beck and call of the great Demon King”. The Demons in this story are actually happy protectors of human beings, so put all those images of horny Beelzebubs out of your mind. Oh, and do pardon the weird capitalizations. It’s not my doing, Ms Frank has this tendency to capitalize Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and anything else that she feels is Very Important. Where Cassie Edwards uses the italics for her heh heh noo wa, Ms Frank instead capitalizes her Very Important Words. Anyway, Elijah is, and I quote:
… the Warrior Captain, the stalker of all Nightwalkers with a price on their head, those who were not of the Demon race who had committed egregious acts and sins against the Demon people, a direct challenge and insult to the Demon King. He was the specialist in all those species, an anthropological strategist. If anyone wanted to know the true ways of how to destroy Vampires, Lycanthropes, and most every other Nightwalker species, Elijah would be the best source of information.
No, really, the author has actually trimmed down the excesses of her prose in this book. If you think the above is bad, you should read the previous two books. Ms Frank is showing some admirable restraint in her prose this time around, believe it or not.
Because of the way Ms Frank rambles on and on, there is actually very little that happens in this story despite its length. In this one, Elijah gets wounded in an ambush led by two rogue Demon females who are leading humans to trap and murder the Nightwalkers. He is discovered by Siena, the shapeshifting cat known as the Lycanthrope Queen, who decides to nurse him back to health because the diplomatic relationship between her kind and the Demons will be adversely affected if a Demon of Elijah’s rank is found dead in her territory. Elijah gets well again and those two make wonderful mating magic together while trying to figure out the complicated algorithms involving mate bonds, hormones, pheromones, and other wonderful plot devices authors love to use to justify the excessive sex between the main characters as some kind of true love in the making.
But while many aspects of this story are too familiar for their own good, I am pleasantly surprised by how the author allows Siena to play the dominant role here. Elijah has his share of alpha male moments, of course, but he is quite gentlemanly where Siena is concerned, apologizing immediately once he’s offended her and letting her make some key decisions in this story.
On the whole, I find Elijah still too much like a published fanfiction calculated to cash in on the success of Christine Feehan and friends. The author still needs to learn the meaning of self-editing because way too much of this story is taken up by unnecessary subplots cluttering up things and apparently designed solely to move past and future books. Still, perhaps I should be happy that there is a significant cutting down of excessive melodrama and purple prose here.
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