Embrace the Night
I am a huge fan of the paranormal genre and Amanda Ashley is one of my favorites whose other Vampire romances I have enjoyed immensely. I read Embrace the Night not very long after reading Shades of Gray, which is the author’s newest release. Perhaps I should have spaced the readings further apart because all through this book, I found myself comparing the vampire hero, Gabriel, to the vampire hero in Shades of Gray, and found Gabriel to be sorely lacking.
The story is told in two parts. The first part begins in England in the year 1881 with the vampire, Gabriel, watching over the heroine, Sara Jayne, who is confined to a wheelchair and living in an orphanage. Due to some tragic and near death events, Sara Jayne is able to regain the use of her legs with Gabriel’s help, but Gabriel then decides to send Sara Jayne away to France to attend a ballet school. Five years later, he can’t bear to be away from her. He follows her to where she has become a prima ballerina, and has a man in her life who would protect her from Gabriel. I won’t give the story away, but through many trials, struggles, and dangers, Sara and Gabriel end up together, though Sara chooses to remain mortal.
The second half of this book takes place in Los Angeles in 1995 with Gabriel awakening from his fifty-five year sleep, and still mourning the death of Sara Jayne who died in 1940. While walking in the park one night, he encounters another Sarah, who it appears was his Sara Jayne in a past life. And so their relationship begins again.
Overall, I was very disappointed. I found Gabriel to be a true alpha. He didn’t think he was worthy enough to receive Sara Jayne’s love and would go to great lengths to push her away, almost to the point of being cruel. However, he was extremely jealous of her relationship with the other man, Maurice. Sara Jayne didn’t discover the true nature of Gabriel’s existence until the 18th chapter, which I found unacceptable. She spent the entire time up until then contemplating death or pining for Gabriel and enduring his cruelty. Had I been in her place, I may have lost my patience and told him to get lost.
There was too much time spent on the bleakness of Gabriel’s existence which I felt left a lot of loose ends. I found Sara Jayne to be weak, both mentally and emotionally. She did not strike me as a woman capable of handling the enormity of being in love with a vampire or any other man. Again, I found myself comparing her to the heroine in Shades of Gray. She did not display her own identity until the very end. Her love for Gabriel was true, but she was very naive. One thing that irritated me beyond belief was Gabriel’s rule of “no questions.” When Sara Jayne would ask him why he couldn’t stay longer with her or why he doesn’t eat with her, he very curtly would say, “No questions, Sara Jayne” and cut her right off – and she let him!
I liked the second Sarah better. She displayed more strength of character and even figured out on her own what Gabriel was sooner than she did in her past life. Both Sara/Sarahs were sad creatures but the second Sarah seemed stronger and independent. Perhaps, the times being what they were accounted for some of that, since the second Sarah was in 1995 and women had come a long way!
There are some secondary vampires who add intrigue and suspense to the story, and there is a great deal of action and danger throughout the book which is what kept me somewhat interested. My expectations for Embrace the Night may have been too high after having just read a better book by this author. As readers, we see how an author’s style can change or improve over time. Even though I read Shades of Gray first, it actually came out 2-3 years after Embrace the Night, and perhaps the author has improved in that time. I would recommend saving the best for last in this case, as it only will get better!