Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kerrelyn Sparks - Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire

Russell wakes from a coma to find he's become a vampire. Now he has a thirst for revenge. Determined to hunt down the master vampire who turned him, he's used to working alone . . . until he meets Jia. She is after the same vampire for murdering her parents and insists she can help Russell on this mission. Reluctantly, he agrees, and sets up some ground rules:
Rule #1: Their partnership is strictly business. If he holds her a little too close . . . if she looks at him with those exotic eyes . . . well, that has to stop.
Rule #2: He's in charge. Jia isn't used to taking orders and questions every move he makes. So he stops her the only way he knows how.
Rule #3: Don't fall in love. But the kiss that was supposed to quiet her awakens something else in him . . . something forbidden. Because Jia is engaged. To someone else.

Comment: I've been following this series for a long time. As it happens with most long lived series, some books captivated me more than others, I liked some characters better and now it seems this is to be the last one, at least with the set of characters we've known for some time being protagonists. I think the author took the right decision, she is ending a series while it's still not completely obsolete and it laying down the path for any spin off or something to come back one day without the readers feeling it's a "oh no". As for this last book, I liked the plot parts, not as much the romance.
In this book we finally have Russell' story. He's the vampire changed by Master Han and has wanted revenge ever since he realized his new condition and how much time has gone and that his family is all gone now too.
In his aim to end Master Han, Russell lives like a hermit and doesn't allow himself to dream about a future. Then he meets Jia, a young woman who ruins one of his best chances to kill Master Han because she too wants to be the one doing it, after all the harm he caused to her family. Jia and Russell join forces but a revelation is going to shock everyone...
For the most part, I liked this story. The plot developed interestingly and even presented a twist I surely did not see coming, which added some drama to the whole thing. I assume some readers missed the more humorous side of the books, but to me this part worked out quite well.
Towards the end, some characters go to Hell to rescue someone and it's a new way to show off a reunion scene. I think it was a bit too much, but well...
There's a revelation that seemed really surprising and I don't think any reader would have seen it coming. Good that the author had some surprises to deliver yet.
Throughout the books we've seen many heroes and villains and in this last installment we can sort of remember all that, considering the amount of appearances we see or hear about. I assume this is something many authors do and it's a sort of good bye. I think the effect wasn't as smooth as the author would have preferred, but the intention was there.
If one thinks about this as the final installment, of course expectations come up. I always thought the final scenes would have more than half the cast showing up and it wouldn't be easy to dedicate much time to every couple and I liked the glimpses of some of them but at the same time I wanted more. It's hard to say good bye even when some books didn't quite meet my expectations.
As for the romance, I wasn't as sold on that. In my opinion Russell had a lot to go through emotionally, some things we only learn in this story and his relationship with Jia felt rushed, just another thing to get out of the list of things to do. I did like Jia but their courtship and relationship filled too many clichés in a way. I think I'd have liked to see something different, although I'm actually glad theirs wasn't one of those too heavy on the humor stories because his background and emotional scars were difficult to overcome.
It doesn't mean Jia didn't have her issues, but to me this will always be Russell's book. It was great they found happiness and some hope for the future, of course I liked there was an HEA and plans for their lives but maybe if some relationship details had been addressed differently...
All in all, this was a good enough installment. Not my favorite, either for the sequence of vents or as the final book, but all things considered, it wasn't as bad as I feared.
I really wish the romance had been smoother, more thoughtful.
I'll cherish this adventure though and thankfully it never went downhill with too many things complicating an already substantially full world.
Let's hope for greatness again from the author.
Grade: 7/10

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