Review: Devil at Midnight by Emma Holly

Title: Devil at Midnight
{A Novel of the Upyr}
Author: Emma Holly
Publish Date: November 2, 2010
by Berkley
Pages: 352, paperback
Reviewed by: Isalys
Reason for reading: Reviewed for The Season

Grace Gladwell is a typical girl in suburbia 1950. She’s sweet and pretty and Johnny is just crazy about her, but no one other than her mother know that Grace is the victim of her father’s drunken violent rages. He’s physically and verbally abusive. One night he goes too far when he catches Grace giving Johnny a goodnight kiss. He pushes her and she hits her head when she stumbles into the brick fireplace. Next thing she knows, she wakes up in an amphitheatre with a blond guy in a suit (very Meet Joe Black) who says he’s her guardian. He radiates patience, love and goodness. Never having known any of that, Grace asked him if she would ever get to meet her One True Love. He surprises her when he tells her that she’s already known a love like that.

Christian Durand is a young mercenary in Switzerland during the middle ages. Strong, loyal and compassionate – he’s easy to love. However, it seems he’s never been able to gain the love or approval of his father who continues to push him around. One day, he brings home a dog to join their hunting party, but the dog is young and playful and a distraction to some of the men. In place of the men who were caught “goofing around”, he takes a severe whipping as punishment. He is then forced to destroy the dog. (As a dog lover, this scene nearly broke my heart.)

Back at the amphitheater, Michael shows Grace this scene. Grace is overwhelmed by a fierce desire to comfort Christian so she asks Michael to send her to him. Grace is sent to Christian, but in the form of a ghost. Christian cannot comprehend how or why the specter of a beautiful girl suddenly appears to him. At first, he wants to be rid of her but after a short time together; he finds that he enjoys her company. She even manages to go corporeal from time to time so in those rare moments, they get to enjoy some very powerful and intimate time together.

A couple of days into her “visit” with Christian, he and several of their men are sent to accompany a mysterious minstrel on a journey to Italy. What no one knows is that the minstrel is no ordinary woman. She’s a powerful upyr (aka vampire) and she has set her eyes on turning Christian. With Grace’s love and support, he refuses Mistress Wei’s advances and soon learns of her real identity. What Christian has no control over is when and how Grace will appear to him or of the battle against his father that will cost him everyone he loves. He then makes a decision that will change the rest of his life…

To be quite honest, I was a little concerned about how the story would play out considering the interesting cast of characters. I couldn’t imagine how a mercenary from the middle-ages, a 1950’s ghost and a vampire would all fit together. However, it didn’t take me long to become fully engrossed in Grace & Christian’s story.

Christian was indeed easy to love. He embodied all the qualities that we look for in a perfect hero. Grace was stronger and more assertive than I initially expected her to be considering her violent past. It seems that she overcame her fears rather quickly. They shared a very powerful connection that transcended the 500 years between their lifetimes. The love scenes were more intense than I expected them to be – even when Grace wasn’t corporeal.

I debated on whether to give this novel an 8 or 9 and so I settled on a compromise of 8.5. Overall, the story was fast paced with a lot of passion, action and unique characters. I loved the emotional connection between Grace and Christian. I also enjoyed getting to know the background characters, particularly Christian’s friends. They were amusing, well-diversified and provided depth to Christian’s story because they were so much a part of his life.

I had a couple of concerns with this novel though. Christian and Grace were both quite young (under 20 years old) and I felt that their sexual relationship seemed almost inappropriate. I had to remind myself that the story took place at a time where people married young and this was the norm. My other concern was that although the differences in language between them were referenced, I think it could have been a bit more accurate to their respective eras.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending. I was a bit surprised by the turns that it took. It did, however, set up the follow-up novel, Angel at Dawn which I look forward to reading. The story will go from a historical to a more contemporary and I’m intrigued as to how the Emma Holly will accomplish this.

RATING: 4.5 of 5
HEAT LEVEL: 5.5 - Borderline Erotic

1 comment:

  1. Great review!
    I love Emma Holly. I haven't read this book yet, but I think I may soon!! LOL


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