His Immortal Embrace
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His Immortal Embrace is a compilation of four novellas, all romances set in Scotland and revolving around a supernatural premise–namely, vampires. And it could be the cheesiest collection of romances I’ve ever read–and I’ve read a lot of cheesy romance novels.

The first novella, The Yearning by Hannah Howell, involves Alpin MacCordy. He must marry for wealth and is pleased when he meets Lady Sophie Hay, who happens to be quite wealthy. Alpin, however, happens to be a sort of vampire/werewolf hybrid. The story explores the question: can Sophie come to love such a monster?

The second part of the book, Bitten written by Lynsay Sands, concerns the brooding Keeran MacKay and one Emily Wentworth. Keeran saved Emily from disaster, but can he save her from himself?

The third part, Stranger in the Night by Sara Blayne, deals with Georgiana Thornberry. She is exploring the ruins of the old family castle, looking for treasure that is rumored to be buried there. Instead she finds Julius Lathrop–a man who is more than he appears.

The last novella, The Awakening by Kate Huntington, tells the story of Thalia Layton who goes to take care of an ailing aunt–only to fall under the thrall of Adrian Lucerne–who just happens to be a vampire.

The paper-thin plot lines all seemed to blend together and reminded me of the sort of romances I would write as a teenager–full of plot holes and one dimensional characters. The authors try to make the heroes seem tortured, but they just come across as emotionally stunted, so when the inevitable epiphany comes (gasp, he loves the female protagonist!) it lacks the needed gravitas to really make the change in him seem poignant. Each heroine seems to accept the nature of her beloved (that he is a vampire, or some variant thereof) way too easily. I’ve heard of unconditional love, but this is ridiculous.

To add insult to injury, the dialogue is laughable. Each author attempts her own version of the Scottish accent, and each one fails miserably. Maybe I’ve seen Braveheart one too many times, but the dialects just didn’t ring true to me. I know this is a trashy romance novel, and therefore not really expected to be accurate in all things, but a little research goes a long way. And to make things even worse, the dialect falters at times; for instance, sometimes the characters say “Nay,” and sometimes they say “No.” And one of the authors, Sara Blayne, must have worn out the “thesaurus” option in her Microsoft Word program because the vocabulary used is simply out of control. Trashy romance novels are supposed to be brain candy: light, fun, and easy to read. You know the writer is trying too hard when you find yourself whipping out your dictionary several times in one chapter.

And, of course, we can’t forget the “naughty bits.” These were the first parts of each novella that I read, simply because I found the rest of each one so tedious I had to skip ahead to the “good parts.” By and large the sex scenes were serviceable. They followed the usual formula (heavy on the foreplay, woman is always a virgin, multiple orgasms for both participants) and were mostly pretty good. However, in a few cases things got a little too explicit for my taste. Romance writers will almost always use euphemisms to describe the people’s various body parts (“throbbing manhood” or “dewy flower,” for example) but in one of the novellas the writer used the actual anatomical terms, which threw me for a loop. If I want to read things like that, I’ll go read an anatomy textbook, thank you very much.

All in all His Immortal Embrace was a disappointment. While the premise–sort of “Interview with the Vampire meets Danielle Steele”–is promising, it’s lacking in execution. The person who recommended it to me led me to believe that it was a novel, so I was surprised to see several different names on the cover. Since I was expecting a full-blown novel, and not four novellas with entirely different plots and sets of characters, the whole thing was too disjointed and didn’t allow me to get fully involved. I definitely wouldn’t recommend His Immortal Embrace to anyone who is serious about romance novels, but it would be a good starting point for beginners, especially for those interested in romances with a supernatural bent.

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