After Sundown

A Whisper of Eternity

Desire After Dark by Amanda Ashley
(Zebra, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-7683-5
I love good vampire romances. When I read one I enjoy, it’s like savoring a fine elegant meal, so I was intrigued to try Amanda Ashley’s Desire After Dark, a book by an author I’d never read before. As its title implies, the book is about vampires. Unlike a memorable dinner, however, the reading experience didn’t satisfy.

When women in Pear Blossom Creek with red hair started to disappear and subsequently ended up murdered, Victoria (Vicki) Cavendish begins to worry. Not only because she has red hair, but because she’s seen a dark, brooding stranger in town with at least two of the women who later disappeared. When he frequents the diner where she works, she wonders if she’s been singled out as the next victim.

Victoria is the killer’s next chosen victim, but the man in the diner isn’t the killer. Antonio Battista’s goal is to protect Vicki, as he tried to do with the missing women. Another failure is not acceptable, especially when his feelings for her grow beyond protector and protected.

Desire After Dark is apparently part of a series. Although I haven’t read the previous books, I followed along well enough. It did feel as though I’d missed something, but that something wasn’t vital to this story.

Unfortunately, characterization didn’t seem vital to the story, either. For instance, it was difficult to discern the differences between the heroine and her best friend. When two characters are so similar they could be interchangeable, you know there’s a problem.

Then there’s Antonio, who makes jarring statements. Take this one, for example:

“You misunderstand me,” he said. “I am not asking for your virginity. I am only saying that I want to get to know you better, to spend time with you, to stay here, with you, for as long as you will let me.”

Antonio may be six hundred years old, but speeches like this still struck me as stiff and archaic.

Added to this are descriptions of Victoria’s actions, such as, “After parking the car, she picked up the newspaper and carried it into the house. Dropping it on the kitchen table, she fixed herself a bowl of cereal and some toast and then sat down to read the paper.” And: “She poured her breakfast down the garbage disposal, changed into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, and went into the den to clean the aquarium.” Description is one thing, but the continual excess information about mundane activities made the story slip into tedium at times.

Desire After Dark includes some interesting ideas, and Ashley’s writing shows potential. Next time, I hope she’ll write about characters I can care about.

--Alyssa Hurzeler

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