M A's Reviews > Kiss of Pride

Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill
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May 13, 2012

really liked it
Read from April 29 to May 07, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Rating: 4 stars / Grade: B +

Disclaimer: I am not a professional reviewer, nor was I solicited for this review. My ebook was purchased at bn.com. I read and comprehended the entire text of this book at least 1 time prior to reviewing.

Spoiler Warning: My reviews generally contain spoilers. I do my best to label them. Read at your own risk.

SUMMARY: This book is pure mad genius. It read like Hill took issue with her wonderful Viking historicals and contemporaries losing ground to the paranormal popularity and decided to do something about it, silver tongue firmly planted in her damask’d cheek. The novel has all the hallmarks of Hill’s perky, comical style and makes for a breezy, quick read. On the down side, the novel’s mythos is flavored with somewhat conservative religious values, not hit-you-over-the-head, but still present.

MORE DETAILS:

It’s great! It’s grand!
A Vamp Wonderland

Such songs! Such sins!
God’s Vampires must win!

What wings! What fangs!
Romance! Heart pangs!

Warm ale! Cold beer!
Will you sober up, my dear?

Have you heard, Mike’s on His way?
Just a century’s left to save the day!

Well, did you ever?
What an elegant, swellegant party this is...


Only a very brave, skilled author could even attempt to combine all these genre elements and hope to pull off a decent book. Hill does a better job than most without betraying her first loves, namely hard-working, good-humored, smart, sensitive, gorgeous, virile, adaptable Viking alpha male heroes and the women who cannot resist them.

Women is the key descriptor to Hill heroines. You won’t find any dewy-eyed, unworldly ingénues among the lot. The typical Hill heroine is older (thirty-ish,) educated, smart, and far from easily manipulated or led along. People who enjoy intelligent, well-adjusted characters who don’t turn their brains off the minute they meet an attractive male will like Hill’s books.

I’ve read most of Hill’s Viking novels, and I probably would not have given “Kiss of Pride” a chance if Hill hadn’t written it. It sounded way too gimmicky. Time-traveling Viking vampire angels (some of whom also moonlight as Navy S.E.A.L.S)? Well did you ever? What a swell party this is.

My overall impression is there are some genuine laughs in this book, particularly at the expense of YA paranormal trends. The romance is multi-dimensional and well-rounded, the characters are great, and the conflicts and challenges faced by the characters are “meaty enough” to sustain the word count.

Hill writes very “light” fiction and “Kiss of Pride” qualifies as “extra-light.” At the same time, Hill has the skill to portray truly horrific events and concepts without derailing the lighter storytelling. Vikar and Alex enjoy electric attraction and a truly sensuous love affair, but there’s a lot of serious, scary stuff going on, too.

Vikar and his fellow vangels (Viking Vampire Angels) serve as a type of divine elite military force under the direct command of Mike A.K.A. St. Michael the Archangel. Yes, this is absolute as OTT as it sounds. The Vangels’ role on earth includes saving misguided humans from committing sins and participating in dangerous missions against “Lucies” (vampires spawned by Lucifer to aid in his war on Heaven and Earth.) They suffer physical injuries and can be killed (or worse, captured alive and tortured to death by the demonic races inhabiting you-know-where.) Not surprisingly, Vangels themselves are former human sinners who work to redeem themselves of their past human follies and ascend to Heaven or attain true angelic status.

The mythos was entertaining and interesting, but I felt Hill bit off a tad more than she can chew when it came to addressing issues of sin in this novel. Hill clearly holds a conservative W.A.S.P. religious viewpoint and this is revealed in the mythos “rules.” Some readers might find certain aspects of the book homophobic, anti-Catholic, misogynist, and anti-tolerant.

(view spoiler)

I’m not one to let philosophical differences get in the way of a fun read, but people sensitive to these issues might want to pass on this book.

The trade-off of what some might consider narrow-mindedness on Hill’s part is what you actually get in the reading experience. This is true romance and it’s heavenly (excuse the pun.) The love scenes are charged, and remarkably, none of them feature full intercourse. There’s a delightful innocence and red-bloodedness to Vikar and Alex’s attraction to each other and it’s free of ulterior motives and complexities more common in erotic romances appealing to particular lifestyles and kinks. Despite the supernatural overtones, these are two strong, likeable, passionate people who want to be together and are willing to make it happen whatever it takes. It’s very pure in that sense and most enjoyable.

If you’re looking for a spoofy vampire read, genuinely funny, but still pretty substantial, give this one a try.

Cover Art (does not affect rating/grade): The cover art is not well done to begin with, but it’s even worse because its overall look and feel is so at odds with the substance of this novel. Vikar is described as a young Kevin Costner look-alike who dresses very casual (lots of shorts, muscle T’s, flip-flops, etc.) The leather-clad, half-naked guy on the cover art just doesn’t mesh with that description. Also, the cover art Viking looks quite menacing and hostile, but I always liked Vikar. Whatever his earthly and unearthly failings, Vikar was basically a kind, good-natured soul and I felt quite comfortable with his fictional presence. I’d probably run from the cover boy.
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Reading Progress

04/29/2012
10.0% "Read the Prologue and Chapter 1. Ummm ... This is Hill's idea of a joke, right?"
04/29/2012
14.0% "Chapter 2: ROFLOL: Nobody but Hill would ever have written this! Vikar and Trond sound positively delicious and there's some great comic dialogue."
05/01/2012
45.0% "Up to Chapter 9. If Hill's novels are usually "light," this story is "extra-light." I wish I had the day off so I could finish the rest."
05/02/2012
50.0% "*sighs* Too pooped for much reading tonight. Still interested in this book."
05/04/2012
60.0% "These are some of the sexiest "near-sex" scenes imaginable. The narrative could do with less conservative political themes, however. Still, I respect Hill's consistency. : )"
05/04/2012
100.0% "This is one of the most interesting reading experiences I've ever had with this author. Review to come after I think about it."

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