The Enemy’s Kiss

Posted on July 10, 2012 by .

Nicholas Drakon and his Romanian clan have finally been released from the centuries-old curse that turned them into stone by day and gargoyles by night. Now, just as the wealthy and dashing Drakon brothers are reintegrating into human society, a cat-burgler steals the first of two ancient runes that are the only things preventing a catastrophic reversal that would threaten the precious peace that had finally descended on Romania. Daniella Ferreria, the thief-with-a-heart-of-gold who is responsible for the first burglary, soon turns up at Drakon Castle, determined to get her hands on the second rune. Then, changing circumstances force Daniella and Nicholas to work together to solve their ever-growing problems (and their ever-growing attraction).

This book is the second in a series about the Drakon brothers. Unlike the last Nocturne series I read out of order, in this case it did make a difference not to have read the first book, which dealt with Marius Drakon and the breaking of the family curse. Despite multiple action scenes, I found the first third of the book difficult to get involved in, the characters hard to relate to, the chemistry between Daniella and Nicholas forced, and the family politics hard to track. Also, The Enemy’s Kiss contains spoilers for the first book (Heiress to a Curse).

The first third of the book contains annoying clichés such as the protagonists’ having such an immediate sexual attraction to each other that they can barely think. Author Zandria Munson contrives several contortions to force the characters into physical proximity so that they can marvel over each other’s bodies. For example, she creates a tunnel for them to crawl through so that Daniella’s behind (in a skin-tight catsuit, of course) is presented to Nicholas’s face. Fortunately, the pace picks up both in terms of romance and mystery in the later part of the book.

Frankly, I found the paranormal, mystical, and mystery elements of the book to be more entertaining than the romance. However, despite the forced “insta-chemistry” between Daniella (a twenty-six year old virgin who has had no time or interest in men) and Nicholas (who can’t go two days without bedding a woman), their later interactions improve. Their bickering and fighting (both with each other and big bad guys), the gradual revelation of Daniella’s real reasons for her life as a cat-burglar, and the surprisingly tender and sexy consummation of their relationship rescue what at first seemed like a very poor match.

Munson’s characterization of her protagonists is passable. I don’t appreciate the common “short-cut” of making a hero seem desirable through portraying him as an insatiable womanizer (until he meets the heroine and gets a personality transplant). However, Nicholas’s struggles with his threatening relapse into “Gargoylism,” his gradual ability to empathize with Daniella’s plight and disadvantaged background, and his tender and generous lovemaking when he discovers her virginity improve him and give him some depth.

Daniella promises to be an interesting character: Abandoned by her mother and forced into raising her little sister, she turns to crime and quickly becomes an extremely resourceful, high-tech/high-stakes thief. She is an excellent fighter, usually holding her own in battles. She has vulnerabilities: her love for her sister, her loss of her childhood, and her inability to form romantic relationships due to her vocation.

However, she also has a tendency to defy Nicholas’s orders (“Trust me,” he keeps repeating, though he hasn’t earned it) even when doing so is a foolish move. Thus, Nicholas keeps having to rescue Daniella, the Resourceful, Smart, and Strong Cat-Burglar. I’m glad she can hold her own in a fight, but also wish that her character was a bit more consistent.

In summary, I wasn’t sold on this couple or this book, but I also don’t regret pushing through to the end. It got better. If a series about cursed Romanian gargoyles piques your interest, I strongly recommend reading Zandria Munson’s books in order. Perhaps if I had been able to do so, my feelings for the characters (especially Nicholas Drakon) would have been warmer.

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