Out of the Night

 
Lord of the Night
by Robin T. Popp
(Warner Forever, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-446-61785-7
***
Popp's first two books in the Night Slayers series delivered an unusual take on the vampire world. Despite her attempts at adding new layers of complexity to her paranormal universe, there is little outstanding in her latest effort.

Kacie Renault was just a child when vampires attacked and killed her family. The Winslows took her in, and Eric Winslow trained her as a vampire slayer. Things went well until she discovered that he was in fact a vampire. Now, Kacie longs for normalcy. She has a day job and a boyfriend who she is considering marrying. Before she makes any decisions, she visits her hometown of Hocksley, England. There, she strikes one more blow in the name of duty.

Kacie went for the wrong undead. Sure, Sedrick was a vampire, but he was also a close friend of Eric's. Long ago, he made a pact with Sedrick's clan: they agreed not to kill humans. The clan demonstrated their loyalty by helping Eric revenge the Renault killings. Now, they want him to help root out and destroy Sedrick's killer. Eric has no difficulty deciding where his loyalties lie: protecting Kacie is more important than any other allegiance.

Kacie isn't as grateful as she should be. She is too hung up on what Eric really is and how he lied to her all these years. She wises up once she realizes the danger involved and the attraction they feel for each other.

With its sword-swinging, butt-kicking heroine, Lord of the Night features a few more action scenes and a little more suspense than I have come to expect from paranormal romances. These might have contributed to a page-turning read, were it not for some pretty major flaws. For one, Kacie is too pig-headed to be likeable. She'd rather put herself and Eric in danger than admit she is wrong. In my book, this doesn't qualify as heroine material. Not even a little bit.

Eric's and Kacie's politically incorrect relationship made me uneasy. It's not only that he's centuries older than she; he was also once her guardian and teacher. Of course, she quickly establishes herself as his equal. Far from reassuring me, this rapid turnover increased my incredulity.

What really lost me was the convoluted world-building. Instead of sitting back for a breath-taking ride, I had to work hard to navigate between the different vampire species and their interactions. It's nice to know that everything isn't black and white in the vampire world, but a little more signposting might have helped novice readers steer their way with more ease. Popp's main concessions to the uninitiated is tedious info-dumping and shameless plugging of earlier novels. I quickly lost interest: the clever twists and turns just weren't worth the extra effort. Although I recommend this book for its adventure-packed episodes, I rather doubt I will be back for more.

--Mary Benn


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