Monday, August 15, 2011

REVIEW: Celeste Nites by Clarrissa Lee Moon

Celeste Nites is a lovely little collection of Clarrissa Lee Moon's first three Celeste, including Claiming Celeste, Hunting Celeste, and Sharing Celeste. These stories serve to establish the main characters, introduce us to Celeste’s situation, and basically arouse our interest.

Oh, and when I say ‘arouse’ our interest, that wording is very deliberate!

Multiple point-of-view (POV) stories have a tendency to annoy me, but I love the way in which Clarrissa uses the format here. Instead of jumping between POVs throughout the narrative, or arbitrarily introducing a different POV to transition a scene, she allows the characters to share the story. The POV shifts are deliberate, significant, and evenly paced. It’s a really exciting way in which to explore the story, creating two separate narratives that don’t yet merge in these first three tales, but which come closer as the story moves along.

One story is that of Celeste, the beautiful vampire, hunted by a spurned (and homicidal) ex-lover. We get to indulge in her dancing, in her careful means of self-expression, always aware of the risks of allowing a new lover to get too close. The other story is that of Jacques and Armand, human brothers with an amorous, protective, almost possessive interest in Celeste, but little understanding of her true situation.

There’s a dangerous game being played out between the three would-be lovers, but they’re all playing by different rules, and with a different perspective on the game.

When the lovers eventually do come together - first as a pair, and then as a ménage-a-trois - Clarrissa turns up the heat, taking an already smouldering story, and drawing us into a fiery tale of exaggerated passion. The sex is, quite simply, stunning . . . erotic and intense, building to one climax after another, until we’re left breathless, almost unable to continue. Although we don’t get to explore a lot of Celeste’s vampiric nature, there’s a darkly threatening potential for violence that adds yet another level of intensity to the story.

Ultimately, we don’t see much of Henry (the homicidal ex) in these stories, but that’s okay. He’s well-established as a threat, and we even get a glimpse into his motivation that promises an even more interesting story ahead. Celeste is a compelling character from page one, but it takes a bit of time for us to warm up to Jacques. Actually, it isn’t until Armand is introduced, and we begin to explore the weirdly symbiotic relationship between the brothers, that he begins to transform into a character worthy of Celeste’s attentions - and ours.

Overall, this is a fantastic collection of stories that serve as the first installment of a much larger story. Erotic, exciting, and well-told, it's a welcome addition to the realm of paranormal romance.

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