Review: The Darkest Kiss by Keri ArthurTuesday, May 6, 2008 13:00
I’m a Riley Jensen fan from “way back” – well, as far back as 2006, I suppose. I’m easy when it comes to urban fantasy, though. I’ll read just about anything, as long as the characters are interesting, and I don’t even need a happily ever after. This is why I’m a huge Lilith Saintcrow fan – LOVE me some Dante Valentine. I enjoyed the hell out of Kiss, too, and am seriously glad there’s a Riley Jenson Book 7 on the horizon.
Plus, Keri Arthur must be one of the hardest working authors in the universe. The woman writes like a fiend and still manages to travel all the way to this side of the equator to attend book conventions, etc.
In this Riley Jenson entry, our intrepid heroine is doing a variety of things:
- Growing up.
- Becoming accustomed, and even liking, her Guardian role.
- Learning to live without Quinn and Kellen.
- Did I mention growing up?
- Getting good at kicking ass.
All of these changes bode well for the story. The angst comes from Riley dealing with life as an adult – not ping-ponging around like a pinball between her various love interests. The tension in the story comes from dealing with two different bad guys in related but separate cases.
I also really dug what Arthur does with Riley’s love life. I feel like Riley finally “gets it,” as does her love interest. An HEA actually seems within her grasp by the end of Kiss. Well, a Riley-version of HEA, at least. There isn’t the gratuitous boinking with every available penis on every available surface in Kiss – I missed that, but I also really liked that Riley and an old flame finally seem to be making something work. It shows some maturity and that maybe, finally, she will manage to find her mate.
To those of you new to the series, Riley’s universe is an alternate reality where humans and non-humans live side by side, aware of each other. Kiss is set, as all her other books are, in Melbourne, Australia. There’s surprisingly little Australian slang – the author makes efforts to “Americanize” her books for our market, apparently – and it’s fun to me to read a book centered in such a far away place that is still recognizable. This world is populated with all sorts of paranormal beings.
Riley is a dhampire – half werewolf, half vampire – so her ability to kick butt is well up there with the best of them. Riley is a member of the non-human law enforcement arm called the Guardians. If you haven’t read the other books in the series, she was brought reluctantly into the role and much ink is
wasted spent on this bit of angst early in the series. Riley finds her Guardian stride in this book and her growth is gratifying to see.
In a nice note of reality, Riley regularly gets her ass handed to her by more powerful bad guys, and this book is no exception. While there is little of the intrigue and uber-baddie plotting in Kiss that we see in the other entries, she’s still fighting some seriously powerful beings. Though, thankfully, Kiss‘s bad guys are just bad guys – no evil genius behind them. Actually a refreshing change and simpler to follow.
This is another excellent entry into the Riley Jensen universe. If you’re a Keri Arthur fan, you’ll love this book. If you’re an urban fantasy fan, I highly recommend this series. Some of the entries are better than others and The Darkest Kiss is one of the best. I’ve followed this series from the beginning, so it’s difficult for me to say if it reads well as a standalone – I don’t think it would, but don’t let that turn you away from an engrossing series.
Danger turns her on. Desire turns her dangerous…
Riley Jenson hunts evildoers-and does it with a style all her own. With vamp blood coursing her through her veins, and a werewolf’s uncanny instinct for danger, Riley wears snakeskin stilettos and pure, in-your-face attitude when she plunges into her latest case: hunting down a killer whose victims are high-society strumpets-and the rich and powerful men they’ve dated.
But for Riley, the case takes a chilling turn when a second killer starts trailing mutilated bodies of his own: a crazed young vamp choosing victims from a past marked by tragedy. Riley knows she’s got the skill and cunning to catch two serial killers at once…until one of them strikes inside her own tight-knit clan-and a sexy beast of a vampire reenters her life to aid in the hunt. His name is Quinn. He’s lived forever, shed blood, and shared pleasure…and he’s the only man over whom Riley has absolutely no control….
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series (I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed any of them for TGTBTU):