Angel at Dawn
The first time I read an Emma Holly novel, I remember being absolutely floored by the graphic sex. It was my first foray into full-scale erotica, and though I’ll never be a full convert, sometimes outrageously raunchy and explicit sex suits my mood. Angel at Dawn is, in my opinion, less explicit than some of Holly’s earlier works – and I’m thinking specifically of Menage here – but it is still decidedly graphic. If you’re in the mood for 15-page love scenes and lots of oral sex, then this is the book for you. However, be prepared for a dull hero and boring plot.
Christian Durand is a 496-year-old vampire living in rural America in the 50s. 500 years ago he was betrayed by a woman (a ghost, in fact), and his only wish is to live on his farm, obscure and unnoticed by the local townspeople. His creator, Nim “Naomi” Wei, is currently a B-movie director and is back in pursuit of Christian, recruiting him for her new vampire movie. Christian wants nothing to do with Naomi, especially when she shows up at his doorstep with her nubile production assistant, Grace Gladwell.
Grace is the same woman from 500 years ago who betrayed Christian and turned him into the shell of a man he is today. However, what Christian doesn’t know is that Grace was not just a ghost, she was a ghost from the future. In fact, she had died for 6 minutes in the future and had travelled back in time. During those 6 minutes she met Christian and they fell in love. When she was revived (in the future) she disappeared when Christian needed her most, leading the vampire to believe that she had maliciously abandoned him. Grace, on the other hand, has no idea that she had been a ghost in the past and fallen in love with a vampire. Let me say that I found the whole ghost thing annoying and distracting, but it did not play a huge part in the novel so I let it go.
Naomi, in a thinly veiled attempt to re-unite Christian and Grace, puts Grace in charge of procuring Christian for the movie. Christian has never been in a movie and is reluctant to join, especially when he recognizes Grace. He is determined to fight the attraction between the two of them and predictably fails. They have lusty, passionate sex, and the whole time Christian is angry with Grace for abandoning him, and Grace has no idea she had met him. Again, I just had to ignore this fact. When I read romances with the hero holding some unknown factoid over the heroine, I just want to tear my hair out.
This is one of those novels that I thought was pretty evenly divided into things I thought were good, and things I thought were awful and annoying. First, the setting is pretty awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance set in 1950s Hollywood, and I found the setting to be fun. However, beware, Holly can’t let the reader forget the setting ever! Beware of the cultural reference bomb; she drops it often! Second, I like Grace. She is perky and sassy, and makes a great foil to Christian’s dour demeanor. Yet, she is just this side of naive, so naive that I wondered whether she was written to reflect the stereotypical 50s woman. It may just be coincidence, but despite the the graphic sex she is having, she seems fairly unaware of what’s going on most of the time. Additionally, Christian is about as flat as one can get without being dead (though I suppose he technically is). I found very few redeeming things about his character.
But the biggest problem I have is the lack of real passion between Grace and Christian. This novel lacks depth. I think I actually enjoyed Emma Holly novels with less plot and more sex than I did this one.