Julianna's Reviews > Night Embrace

Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon
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's review
Sep 14, 10

bookshelves: paranormal-romance, read-2009
Recommended for: Fans of PNR Romance, Dark-Hunters, or Sherrilyn Kenyon
Read in June, 2009, read count: 1

Reviewed for THC Reviews
"3.5 stars" I know that the Dark-Hunter series is an extremely popular one, and after reading and thoroughly enjoying Fantasy Lover, the prequel, I truly thought that the series would become a favorite of mine too. Unfortunately, I have yet to be completely sucked in by it. The next two stories in the series both suffered from some of the same problems, and for me, Night Embrace has followed in their footsteps. While there were some things that I really liked about the book, there are quite a few things that I disliked as well, so I'll start with those. First, there was a huge overabundance of characters, so much so that they stole a lot of face time away from the hero and heroine, and it became difficult to keep track of all of them. To begin with, there are six different classes of beings: deities from Greek and Celtic mythology; daimons (vampires); humans; one ghost; a bunch of demons that were briefly unleashed; and hunters (slayers), of which two different sub-sets, Dark-Hunters and Were-Hunters appear in this story. Then there is the impossibly long list of characters who fall into each of those categories. I literally started jotting down all the ones I knew had appeared in previous Dark-Hunter books or would appear in future books, just so that I could keep them all straight. Here's my quick-reference: Common characters who appear in most of the stories in the series – Acheron, the leader of the Dark-Hunters; Nick Gautier, their main squire or human helper; Selena, another human who has knowledge of the Dark-Hunters; and the Greek goddess, Artemis. Characters from previous Dark-Hunter books – Julian (Fantasy Lover), Kyrian and Amanda (Night Pleasures), and the Greek deities Eros and Psyche who also first appeared in Fantasy Lover. New characters who were introduced in Night Embrace - Zarek (Dance with the Devil), Wulf (Kiss of the Night), Vane and Bride McTierney (Night Play), Valerius (Seize the Night), Wren (Unleash the Night) although he had no dialog, Ravyn (Dark Side of the Moon) although he was only briefly mentioned, and Fang (Bad Moon Rising which will be released in August), plus there was one other Dark-Hunter and a large assortment of Were-Hunters who were either merely mentioned or made very brief appearances, but I'm not aware of them starring in their own books yet. And this wasn't even all the characters, just the ones that appear in other books of the series. Whew! It just seemed like the author thought, “Let's see how many characters I can cram into one book,” and in the end, I thought many of them were very diluted, including Talon and Sunshine who were supposed to be the main characters.

My next major issue with Night Embrace is an excess of supernatural powers. Nearly everyone in the book seems to have them, including the humans having mystical psychic powers, which became a bit too much for me to swallow. I think the only prominent “normal” character in the book was Nick. Thus far he does not seem to possess any powers at all which is actually a relief. Again it just seemed like the author tried to cram as many powers into the story as she possibly could, which in my opinion, watered down everyone's powers and made things far too easy. In other paranormal romances I've read, it is only the supernatural creatures who possess abilities, and those are very well defined, usually with base powers that are common to every creature of their race. Then there are a few special ones who have some additional but limited powers. If Dark-Hunters have common powers, I'm having a difficult time identifying them. It seems that so far in this series and especially in this book, Ms. Kenyon makes up powers for the characters as she goes along, and they arbitrarily work or don't work to conform to a given plotline, rather than the plot conforming to the powers that are available. To my way of thinking this is somewhat lazy storytelling, and it is also very confusing to me as the reader, since I have no clear frame of reference as to what any of the characters can do or not do.

My last major issue with Night Embrace and the Dark-Hunter series in general is the mythology. I still think that it is rather interesting that Ms. Kenyon decided to base her mythology on real Greek, Celtic and perhaps other myths I'm not aware of. What I dislike though, is that she tends to throw out the names of the various gods and goddesses with little or no mention of who they are. This is all fine and dandy if you've studied mythology, but I haven't since grade school, so once again, trying to keep up can be confusing. Also Ms. Kenyon's own Dark-Hunter mythology is not as well-defined as I would like to see. As she keeps adding new characters to the palette, of course the mythology changes and becomes more complex as well, and in the end, I had just as hard a time remembering all the myths as I did remembering all the characters. No sooner did I think that I had a decent grasp on things than a new myth or character was introduced. I also never had a good feel for the curse placed on Talon by Camulus. As I understood it, anyone Talon loved would die, but Talon's loved ones started dying long before the curse supposedly took effect. I really like to have a good comprehension of the world that an author has created, so feeling like I frequently needed a Dark-Hunter encyclopedia to keep everything straight definitely detracted from my enjoyment of it.

As for Talon and Sunshine, the hero and heroine of the book, I can't say that I ever became fully invested from an emotional standpoint in either their individual characters or their relationship. They fall into bed with each other on the first day that they meet (not my favorite way to begin), and their entire relationship develops in a matter of days. Talon and Sunshine share a number of steamy love scenes throughout the story, a couple of which I will admit were rather creative, but without that deep emotional connection, the scenes simply weren't as sensual as I have found in some other romances. They also didn't practice safe sex which is an annoyance to me when there doesn't seem to be any good reason not to. The author relies heavily on the concept of reincarnation to explain the instant attraction the couple has, but it just didn't work for me. Additionally, I'm not a big fan of the push-and-pull conflict in a relationship, and this one definitely had that. First Sunshine acts like her time with Talon was nothing more than a fun fling, and she adamantly has no interest in marriage due to an unhappy first one. Then she comes around in a just a few days only to have Talon be the one who is doing the pushing away, because he is afraid that he will loose her to his curse just like everyone else he ever loved in his mortal life. I really like when characters are able to show their vulnerabilities by sharing their hopes, dreams and life experiences with each other, but Sunshine comes into an awareness of what Talon is and the things he suffered through her own past life memories and her friend Selena's knowledge of the Dark-Hunters. Having things happen this way effectively shut down the lines of communication and consequently suppressed the intimacy of their relationship. As I mentioned before, I felt that Talon and Sunshine were very overshadowed by the other characters and plotlines too. I did like Talon who was a very tortured hero, one of my favorite kinds, and I thought that Sunshine could be very endearing with her sweet scatterbrained ways. I just felt like they were short-changed, and I never really got to know either of them well enough for them to truly stand out to me.

Now for some of the things I really liked about Night Embrace that made me give it a few extra points. First, just one word...Acheron. Acheron is almost a larger-than-life character who carried a large part of this story on his very broad shoulders. He literally emanates power and sex appeal right off the pages of the book, and absolutely walks away with every scene he is in. In retrospect, this may not have been such a good thing, but I don't really care. I'm already crazy about him and can't believe I have seventeen more books and novellas to go before I get to his story.:-( The next thing I liked...Zarek. He may have had plenty of moments when he acted like a total jerk, but it was easy to tell that there is much more depth lurking beneath the surface. I for one can't wait to find out more about him, and see this hardened warrior find some peace and happiness. Another thing I enjoyed was the historical flashback sequences with Talon and his first wife Nynia. Although tragic, I found those scenes to be the most romantic in the entire book, and strangely, I felt far more connected to these two as a couple than I did to Talon and Sunshine. Also, I rather enjoyed the testosterone-laced interactions between Acheron, Zarek, Talon and Valerius when they all meet together early in the story. Having that much alpha maleness concentrated in one place was something of a heady brew. Finally, even though there were some minor plot holes and inconsistencies in it, I still really enjoyed the climactic scene of the book, although that's probably because Acheron pretty much took center-stage for it.

In addition to my major complaints there were a few other more minor ones as well. I thought there were quite a few passages that were repetitive. The author begins by giving certain parts of Talon's backstory and then filling in the details as the tale progresses, but each time something new was added, there were also things that were reiterated. There were also a few inconsistencies in the details, such as how Talon is able to call Acheron and actually get him one time and Styxx another. I thought that the explanation as to why Talon was allowed to marry Nynia in the past even though she was far beneath him in station was rather weak. There was also mention of Vane being indebted to Ash, but I was left wondering exactly what that debt was. Perhaps this will be explored in a later book. Lastly, Ms. Kenyon tends to throw in new terms specifically related to the world she has created. While it is important that these new words be defined, she always seems to bring the story to a screeching halt while giving the explanation, which is a little annoying. Although, Night Embrace failed to wow me, and the jury is still out on the Dark-Hunter series as a whole, I do plan to continue with it. I was extremely intrigued by Zarek, and his story is the next full-length novel in the series, making me want to read it right away. I'm also so enthralled by Acheron, I don't think I would be able to quit the series at least until I've reached his story. Since Fantasy Lover is still one of my top five all-time favorites, I know that Sherrilyn Kenyon can write a romance with the kind of relationship development I crave, so I'll just have to hope that there will be more books in the Dark-Hunter series that exhibit this type of storytelling. Night Embrace is the second novel in the series. There are currently a total of 19 full-length novels in the Dark-Hunter series and quite a number of related novellas and graphic novels as well, with more still to come. A complete list of all the books and their recommended reading order can be found on Sherrilyn Kenyon's website.

*Review updated 9/14/10
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Reading Progress

06/14/2009 page 61
06/14/2009 page 90
22.06% "Two words....Acheron, Yum!;-)"
06/15/2009 page 151
37.01% "All the DH powers and mystical elements make things too easy. I like there to be more of a challenge."
06/16/2009 page 240
58.82% "All the new characters and mythology is becoming confusing."
06/17/2009 page 286
70.1% "I'm feeling more connected to some of the secondary characters than I am to the H/H, which doesn't seem like a good thing."
06/18/2009 page 389
95.34% "Mostly enjoyed the action-packed climax."
06/19/2009 page 408
100.0% "Very mixed feelings about this one. Loved some things and disliked others. Review coming soon."

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by new_user (new)

new_user Excellent review! Good critique. Those are points to consider.

message 2: by Dina (new)

Dina Great review, Julie! I've only read the 1st book, Fantasy Lover, so far and wasn't wowed enough to jump right into this loooooong series. I'll probably skip straight to Acheron and see how it goes.

message 3: by Julianna (last edited Jun 26, 2009 05:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Julianna Thanks new_user & Dina.

Dina, I have to say that I've been very tempted to jump straight to Acheron too, since it looks like this may be a hit and miss series for me. Yet there has been so much character development for him in the books I've read so far, tidbits of his backstory and demonstration of the kind of guy he is, that I'd hate to miss out on that, so I'll probably stick it out for the long-haul.

On a happier note, I did jump right into Zarek's story, Dance with the Devil. I finished it a couple of days ago, and liked it much better. I'll probably have my review for that one posted by the first part of the week.

message 4: by new_user (last edited Jun 27, 2009 12:32PM) (new)

new_user Yeah, it seems like the majority of the series is filler for meatier books like Acheron, etc. Not worth it to me, I think, not with my huge TBR!

message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura Julie, you would really be cheating yourself and totally lost if you skipped ahead to "Acheron." This is my fav PNR series. Like you, I didn't care for this one. I liked Talon, but Sunshine reallllly got on my nerves. Too much of a flake. Now don't get me wrong. I like flaky characters, but they are tricky to write. I think Kenyon does an excellent job with flaky in the character of Simi. But she missed the boat with Sunshine.

And that's the thing about this series. Each book fiurthers the big story in this series. Some books you are gonna love, and some just aren't gonna click for you. But she gives enough in each one to further the parts you do like. Personally, I don't care for most of the Were Hunters that are introduced later on. But some people love them. So do yourself a fav and read the series straight through and in order. Otherwise, you will be completely lost when you get to Acheron, and it won't mean as much to you.

Hope this helps!

Laura Stamps
Author of Erotica and Paranormal Romance Novels
http://www.LauraStamps.blogspot.com (excerpts from all of my novels)
http://laura-stamps8.livejournal.com (my naughty Author Blog/updated daily)

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