Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Serpent's Kiss

(A Novel of the Elder Races #3)
Thea Harrison
Paranormal Romance
336 pages
Berkley Sensation
Available October 4th
Received from publisher for review

Rune Ainissesthai is a Wyr and a man who would do anything to save the lives of his friends. This unwavering loyalty and love for his fellow sentinel Tiago led him to agree to a bargain with a Vampyre queen known and feared for her magical abilities. In exchange for Tiago's life, he promised her a favor of her choosing.

A week after the bargain is struck, Rune finds himself called to her home on a remote island in the San Francisco Bay. He goes in aware he placed no stipulations on the terms of the deal, and knows she could ask for something that will take hundreds of years to complete. What he finds waiting for him there is not at all what he expected though. Carling asks only for him to kneel and bow to her and then releases him from his debt, demanding his immediate departure.

Rune senses there's something going on with Carling however, and he refuses to leave until he figures out what it is. When he learns her Power is becoming increasingly unpredictable–something indicating the end of a Vampyre's extraordinarily long life–he vows to help her find a way to reverse the symptoms of her old age and save her. And so what began with a favor owed turns into a life-altering, time-bending race to cheat death and an epic fight for love.

Third in the Novels of the Elder Races, Serpent's Kiss continues to entertain us with its richly layered characters and increasingly tense political situation while further fascinating us with a rather unique set of problems for our protagonists to overcome. With each book in this series, Ms. Harrison proves the limitlessness of her imagination and the brilliance of her creative abilities, ensuring we read on in rapture as her characters waste little time making a home for themselves in our hearts. Our minds are also kept delightfully occupied in this installment, trying to unravel the knots in the temporal and spacial relationship causing Rune and Carling so many issues. We find ourselves deep in thought yet are never confused, we laugh at the banter between our hero and heroine yet never forget the seriousness of their circumstances, and we relish the physical nature of their partnership yet glory equally in the power of their emotional connection.

One of the highlights of these books is the extreme care Ms. Harrison takes in crafting her characters, excelling at writing alpha men with possessive streaks thousands of miles wide but also never failing to give us women of tantamount strength and skill who rise to whatever challenges face them. Carling is one such woman, a Vampyre feared by many for her gifts with spells yet one who slowly reveals to us the flesh and blood individual behind the infamy and reputation. We start out thinking she will be as cool and reserved as she seemed to be in Tiago and Niniane's story, however Rune's presence imbues her with a comforting warmth that destroys the distance she tries to put between her and the world, forcing us all into close proximity as a figurative pulse begins to beat in her undead chest. She is smart and regal while at the same time unexpectedly playful, taking charge when necessary but also listening to Rune's input when the answers to her problems aren't clear to her, and we find ourselves falling more in love with her as Rune is with each page we read.

Rune is a bit of a deviation from the prior two heroes in this series, his more laid back attitude and his mirth and mischievousness enchanting after the immensity of Dragos's personality and the intensity of Tiago's formidable presence. He can absolutely switch gears into fiercely protective and possessive mode, but his ability to charm a laugh out of a woman who can barely remember how to do so has our limbs liquefying and a dopey grin taking up permanent residence on our faces. For being the half of the couple unable to sense the emotions of the other he reads her remarkably well, knowing just when to push and when to comfort as well as when to seduce and when to grant space between them, allowing him to take ownership of all our hearts as though he has every right to it and would settle for nothing less.

While Rune and Carling's story is undeniably intriguing and the nature of their bond a curious puzzle with ever-multiplying pieces, notably absent is Ms. Harrison's stunning set of secondary characters. This tale centers almost entirely on Rune and Carling exclusively until the end, and while their isolation does add a layer of intimacy to their relationship we can't help but miss some of the vibrant personalities we've met in previous books. Overall however, Serpent's Kiss is a book that gives us a taste of everything we could ever ask for, and is led by two characters who we can only hope we'll catch a glimpse of in future installments.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Sounds like an interesting read! Somehow I always like the heroes with 'possessive streaks thousands miles wide' :D Even though in actuality I'd never put up with it! Ahaha! I might have to check out the previous books in this series!

    Great review as always, Jenny!

  2. Oh, DROOL!! While I love an alpha male, one who can make a girl laugh, too, just makes me weak in the knees. RUNE!! I wasn't sure how it would be with Carling, since she did seem so cool and unattached in the previous book, but it's good to hear that she warms up.

    I am sad that the other couples and alphas don't seem to play a bit part in this book. I'll miss the boys (and girls, too) when I get my hands on this one and slobber all over Rune.

    Awesome review -- jealous that you've already read it. Soon, Rune, soon you'll be all mine!

  3. I am so looking for forward to Rune's story. I am happy his laid-back personality it a hit, and look forward to his charming, humorous behavior. I am not a fan of Carling, so I'm hoping he brings her around for me. :)

  4. Liza - I LOVE this series, it's a new favorite:)

    Mary - She definitely warms up, she and Rune are really cute together. I did miss all the secondary characters because they're so entertaining, but we do get to meet the couple from book 4 and I'm really excited for their story.

    Ash - LOVE RUNE! I really enjoyed Carling in this story, she's not quite so aloof and seemingly indifferent to everything around her:)

  5. I can tell you really liked this book. Your review is longer than normal! But I am not complaining! The possessive streak always makes me smile. I can feel that they really do care.

  6. Never heard of this one, but your review certainly has me intrigued. A great, thorough review - thanks, Jenny!

  7. I bow down to the epicness of Thea Harrison's writing. I loved both Dragon Bound and Storm's Heart, and look forward to Serpent's Kiss next week. :)

  8. I may not like you a little bit right now! Nope wait I still love you because you claim Rune :) That leaves Graydon for me!

    I am really looking forward to this one---this series really is one of my must reads!

  9. Oooh, fangirl squee, I am so excited! I'm a bit bummed to see that the secondary characters are absent this go around, but everything else sounds super awesome! Thanks for the great review, I'm on pins and needles now!

  10. Savy - Sometimes I get carried away with my reviews:) These boys are possessive but it's never overwhelming because the women are all really strong as well.

    Hafsah - If you enjoy paranormal romance, you'll love these books:)

    Amanda - RIGHT! Love her so much:) She writes brilliant characters.

    Felicia - I do claim Rune even though Carling could annihilate me. That's okay though, I'm sure Thea will introduce more alpha men that I can claim. And you can have Graydon though I do love him as well:)

    Jennifer - I was a little bummed about that as well because their relationships with one another are so interesting, but I really enjoyed Rune and Carling.

  11. I'm intrigued by the mythology used in this series. I could definitely use another paranormal romance series to help me escape from the world now and then. :)

  12. Yankee Doodle kick me in the face! Had to skim this one Jenny because I still haven't read book two!

    And *sadface* that the secondary characters don't come into play as much because they are pretty awesome!

  13. I haven't read this series, but it sounds fun. It's always nice when an author takes a lot of care in her characters.
    Oh - and your quote "possessive streaks" I first read as "possessive steaks." I was imagining them defending their meat with their lives!

  14. I really love how you describe the dynamic between the characters, how the alpha male is matched with an equally strong female. It's a pet peeve of mine when the female lets herself be overcome by the alpha male's dominating nature.

  15. Rummanah - Love her mythology, she uses fairly unknown creatures like Gryphons and Thunderbirds and it's just a lot of fun:)

    Missie - I heart you. That is all:) I was sad about the secondary characters as well, but I really like the 2 we do meet that are the hero and heroine of the next book:)

    Alison - No steaks involved:) And she writes really great characters, very real and vibrant.

    Aylee - These ladies don't cow to their alpha men, it's fabulous. They stand their ground and are equals in every way, love it:)

  16. Jenny, I haven't read this series either, but I think I remember you telling me about it. Gah, so many books! I feel like I'm lagging behind lately, it took me like a week and a half to start my last book and it turned out to be a really good book. o_o

    I only scanned the review because I didn't want any spoilers from the other 2 books. This sounds like a series I should jump into because Wyr and Vampyres = WIN! :D Now, to actually start another book.

  17. I honestly just can't get enough of vampire -- Vampyre? -- books, and this one sounds unlike any I've ever read before! Excellent characters? Cool gifts? That definitely sounds like my kind of book!

    Awesome review, Jenny! :) I haven't read the first two books yet, but now they're officially added to my (WAY TOO LONG) TBR list!

  18. Even if I gave up with book 1, I am still glad to read reviews and wish I had continued

  19. I've already been told to get the first books. I have to really get into this world and see who I shall claim from you. ;D

  20. Jen - This series is a definite WIN, can't recommend it enough:)

    Mimi - The characters are my favorite, she writes them really well and you just sort of get sucked in:) Hope you give these a try!

    Blodeuedd - Maybe you'll try them again in the future:)

    Melissa - These books have quite a few men you will be able to add to your harem, but lets just agree here and now that I had them first ;-)

  21. Jenny!!!! Now I have to read this series soon. =P I love charming and laid back heroes so Rune sounds like the guy for me. ;)

  22. ((Sigh...)) Your reviews always make me want to run out and buy the series you review. lol! This is definitely going on my wishlist. :)

  23. Your previous reviews made Dragos and Tiago sound awesome, and now Rune seems to be just as great as them. To me, Rune's personality sounds the most appealing because of his more laid back attitude and the fact that he can easily make you laugh. I love broody male characters but in real life, they're pretty high maintenance.

  24. ladies, i read both book 1 and 2 and i am so in love with her books.i highly recommend reading dragon bound and stormheart... dragos was so absolutely yummy... cant cant wait for rune's tale.. trust me her books are just great,,.. like fudge brownies... haagen daaz... happy reading....

  25. I can't say I don't know this series because I know you review it every time a new book comes out. But I haven't read it. So, let me just say, the guy on the cover would definitely make me pick it up if ever found time to read anything but MG and YA!!!


  26. I loved the first in the series. I made everyone I know read it. And then I forgot to keep up with the new books in the series. Good to know the following books are just as amazing :)

  27. "alpha men with possessive streaks thousands of miles wide"-isn't this the truth!!!???

    I should just continue with the whole series, it could be 10 books in before I get the book I want, lol! Hopefully Jenny, you know what I'm talking about!

  28. I'm really looking forward to this one--great review. :)