The mark of a truly amazing author is when they write a story completely out of the series you fell in love with and you still adore it. No resentment, no “this sucks because it’s not the characters I love”, just pure fabulous writing from the first word to the last. If you’ve read this blog before, you are aware that I think Frost has created the best vampire series with her Night Huntress and Night Huntress World books (which is saying something since there are a LOT of vampire books out there!).
Jeaniene Frost is a writer who always lives up to my high expectations of her, so much so that I think her pajama top must showcase a milk bottle and the catchphrase “Filled with Awesomeness” on it. Since I monitor her website like a hawk and make sure I’ve read everything listed on her Goodreads page, I knew that there was an anthology, Haunted By Your Touch, containing an novella by her that I hadn’t checked off. Since it wasn’t part of the Night Huntress series, I didn’t feel it was a gigantic problem for me to be patient until it was released as an independent ebook, so I preordered it months ago and patiently waited.
When it popped up on my Kindle app this week, I felt like presents had suddenly become part of Thanksgiving! At only 100 pages or so, it was easy to sit and devour it in one sitting and then bask in the non-tryptophan afterglow of her writing.
It turns out that Frost is the queen of paranormal, no matter what her characters’ names or the setting she’s created. In Night’s Darkest Embrace, she gives us multiple dimensions laying alongside our own world with some creatures – those with varying degrees of demon blood – able to move between them. Mara is part-demon and as teenagers she and her cousin Gloria foolishly went into Nocturna, the dimension accessible to them, as an adventure. It ended up being an adventure, all right, with the two of them captured by pureblood demons bent on taking them to a neighboring dimension they called home and absorbing their essence (and yes, you have to kill someone to do that).
Rafael, the sexy ruler of Nocturna mysteriously showed up and managed to free Mara, warning her to not return until she was older since purebloods prefer children, but the kidnappers disappeared with Gloria, who was never seen again. Over the years, Mara has returned to Nocturna again and again in the hope that she would see one of the men who took them and enact her revenge. As time has gone on, though, she finds herself more and more attracted to Rafael but he’s never given her a good answer as to why he was in the middle of nowhere when he rescued her. She worries that he’s somehow connected to the pureblood trade in part-demons, but her body seems to possess less moral fiber since it sings whenever he’s nearby. When Mara realizes she can use the blazing attraction between them to uncover the truth, she does so despite her misgivings and finds out that Rafael is much, much more than he seems.
It’s Frost, so her characterization is pitch perfect, and you feel like you get a wonderful sense of Raphael even though the story is told solely from Mara’s perspective. Plenty of conflict and reasonable doubt, but not piled on to the point where you begin to feel hopeless about the couple being able to ever get together. If there’s anything you can count on with Frost, it’s also her sense of humor coming through in her writing and this story is no exception.
“Rafael,” a clear voice demanded. “What do you think you’re doing with that female?”
“Taking her to my room to ravish her, Mother,” he replied shortly….
“Eh, I’ll see you afterward then,” she replied in a disinterested voice.
The other writing strength Frost is renowned for is her red-hot love scenes, and this novella does not disappoint in that arena either. I was fanning myself during key points in the story but what makes Frost’s love scenes so unbelievably steamy is not just the choreography of the scene, but the way she depicts the emotional connection between the characters and how their physical consummation pushes the plot forward. It’s exactly what you want from a romance writer and Frost delivers every time.
At a mere $1.99, this is the perfect Frost work to enjoy while you are waiting for Twice Tempted, the next book in the Night Huntress World series. So whether you are a Cat and Bones fan or proudly wear your “Team Vlad” t-shirt, do yourself a favor and take a look at Night’s Darkest Embrace. You’ll gain a new appreciation of an author who simply cannot write anything that’s not fabulous.