Opening Line:"Ashla stood shivering in the darkened streets of Times Square.
Jaquelyn Frank has created a dense and complicated new society in ECSTASY. I tried very hard to like this new world but it was a tough read and fans should be warned that this is not a continuation of the Nightwalker series.
After a horrific car accident our impish heroine Ashla awakens to find herself in Shadowworld. A strange version of New York City without any lights or people. It is also a place of endless night. Just as she grows accustomed to her solitary, dark world Ashla is confronted by a sword baring warrior named Trace. He is a Shadowdweller. A being able to exist in two demensions; Realscape (our world) and Shadowscape (an in-between world i.e. ghosts, spirits, coma patients). 'Dwellers' are unable to tolerate even the smallest amount of light and therefore must live in the shadows of Realscape as well as being able to fade into Shadowscape where there is no risk of light. If a Dweller however remains in Shadowscape too long he risks 'Euphoria' a deadly form of selfish lustfulness.
Trace has been followed into Shadowscape by a conspirator against the Shadowdwellers. He manages to kill his enemy but is mortally wounded in the process. Normally those stuck in Shadowscape such as Ashla are unaware of Shadowwalkers like Trace but fortunately for him she not only sees him but possesses the ability to heal with her touch. After healing Trace Ashla takes on his injuries and Trace, feeling responsible as well as an unexplainable connection to her lingers in Shadowscape and begins experiencing Euphoria. Ashla accommadates Trace in his sickness and they both discover that she is turned on by submission.
In Trace's culture selflessness and gentleness while making love are paramount and much time is spent schooling the youngsters in all manners of lovemaking. However Trace is so filled with Euphoria that he has all consuming, selfish sex with Ashla for days on end without relief. Evenually Trace is brought back into Realscape by two Shadowwalker warriors sent to rescue him. Leaving poor Ashla alone again in her gloomy spirit world. As Trace recovers back in Realscape he is filled with guilt and vows to return into Shadowscape, find Ashla and make amends. Unfortunately his people have begun their annual migration to Alaska and when he recovers enough he is expected to lead them.
I was initially intrigued by the idea of someone living in an in-between world of darkness and solitide but when I had to read a whole paragraph explaining what a lie means in Shadowese culture and every single detail regarding that society including sex education, history, religion and politics. I was frankly overwhelmed and became bored with the complexity of the world Jacquelyn Frank has created. There is little character developement with Trace and Ashla and I didn't ever really get a feel for their characters. The many pages spent on their lovemaking are crass and border on erotica more than romance. Fans of the Nightwalker series will be thrilled however by a scene in the final pages when Gideon makes a brief appearance.
This book is not a continuation of Jacquelyn Franks Nightwalker series and I would have a trouble recommending it to anyone except her die hard fans.