A Caress of Twilight
There are three points I want to make up front about A Caress of Twilight. The first is that this book is a fast-paced, action-packed read that will keep you riveted to the story to find out what happens next. The second point is that this book is not a romance. It has a cast of really sexy “men” and a very strong heroine, but at this point in the story arc the relationships are still being worked out. Which leads to point three: this book is also not a stand-alone novel. It is an excellent second installment in a very intriguing series, and while Laurell K Hamilton does leave you wondering what will happen next, she is also a skilled enough writer to wrap up enough of the action to leave one satisfied with the out come. I would not start A Caress of Twilight, however, with out reading the first book in the series A Kiss of Shadows.
In the reality of the series, the Fairy folk exist and, due to wars in Europe and a treaty they signed with the U.S. president, have immigrated to the United States. Per the treaty, they maintain their own lands and government. The Fairy government is broken up between two monarchies – the Seelie and the Unseelie Courts.
When A Caress of Twilight opens, Merry Gentry has been named a possible heir for the Unseelie Court. Merry is a princess of the Sidhe and her aunt is the current queen. Merry will be the next queen if she can conceive a child before Prince Cel. Cel is her aunt’s son and the other potential heir to the throne.
Rather than making Merry’s life easier, her potential rise in status has complicated it in many ways. Several attempts have been made on Merry’s life, so in order to assure she lives to have a child and to make sure she conceives by someone acceptable, the queen has assigned Merry a bodyguard made up of her own handpicked warriors. Merry is also still working for the Grey Detective Agency in Los Angeles, and balancing her responsibilities to the agency with what is required of her as a potential heir is often difficult.
Although the story contains two rather interesting mysteries (a Sidhe who has been banned from the Seelie Court contacts the Grey Agency because she needs Merry’s help, and something is killing both fey and non-fey by magical means) the really intriguing facet of this novel is watching Merry grow into her strength as a leader. She not only has to win the respect of her guards, but navigate the extremely dangerous maze of fey politics. The descriptions of different aspects of fey culture and politics were done very well – instead of being dry they were engrossing and integral to the action. Merry must make decisions based on necessity and survival, both for herself and for her men. If she does not become a power to be reckoned with, she could get them all killed.
The men who make up Merry’s guard are all very interesting in their own right. Throughout the book we start to learn more about them as people and more about their histories. Doyle, the leader of the guard, is an enigmatic character and in this book one learns about his ancestry. Glimpses are given into the histories of the other guards and I am looking forward to exploring their characters in future books. My one quibble with the plot is in relation to the guards, however. Merry tells you she is in love with one of them, but the relationship is never described enough to let you know why or to make it truly believable.
That one quibble aside, if you enjoy fantasy and mystery told with a brilliantly evocative and tactile writing style and highlighted with quite a bit of eroticism, I strongly suggest this series.