Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: 'Til Darkness Falls

'Til Darkness Falls'Til Darkness Falls by Pearl Love

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3,5 Stars

Ancient Egypt, about 1000 years before our time. Prince Rahotep and his slave Tiye love each other deeply, their union favored by Fate itself. But Rahotep's intended bride Hebeny feels cheated of her rightful position of power by Rahotep's side and in his bed. Out of jealousy and hurt pride, she magics up Set, the wicked ruler of the Egyptian underworld. With his help, she manages to turn Rahotep and Tiye against each other. But Set's curse dooms Hebeny to repeat her scheme again and again as she follows the lovers through centuries of reincarnation, for if she fails to turn their love to hate, Hebeny's own soul is forfeit.

Three thousand years later in an unnamed contemporary North American city. Brian Macon, burnt-out, shy, introverted homicide detective is having a drink at a gay bar when a beautiful blond man with an enticingly exotic accent hits on him. Brian is immediately drawn to the stranger who he later learns is a German writer, and the attraction is mutual. The men land in bed together before they even get to exchange names. Soon their passionate affair turns into much more. But Alrick Ritter isn't only a man who loves Beethoven and used to play the cello until a tragic accident robbed him of this pleasure. He's also a hitman and the very sniper Brian is currently hunting. Hebeny, following her ancient curse, has once again set the fated lovers onto the high road to perdition. But as she leans back to gleefully watch the show, something starts to go wrong. It seems that in this incarnation, Brian's and Alrick's love will finally overcome Hebeny's eternal hate.

This book was awfully hard to rate for me.

On the one hand, the plot idea was fascinating. Fated lovers, meeting and falling in love again and again in every reincarnation, doomed to have their love turned into murderous hate every single time...what a wonderful, tragical drama! Both the contemporary and the historical plot line were well done, with sizzling eroticism and true, heartbreaking emotions. Brian Macon was a well rounded, haunted character, his partner Angela a motherly enforcer everybody would love to know, and his captain a wonderfully malicious bitch. The bad boys were your old-school mafia stereotypes, so exaggerated I think they were intentional, and the supportive cast were just as colorful.
Rahotep and Tiye were less well elaborated, but nevertheless likeable characters, Hebeny was acting just the spoiled, ambitious, arrogant teenage girl she was supposed to be, and Set was deliciously mischievous, just like the ancient legends picture the evil god.

The writing had its flaws, though. Both Alrick's and Brian's back stories are told several times, first by the author during the narrative. Later Brian tells his story to Angela in his own words, and Aldrick's story is revealed to Brian by Alrick's sister, and once again when Brian tells Angela about Aldrick. It's the same spiel with Tiye's and Rahotep's story which is repeated at least three times, at wearisome length and with barely any variations. A little more concise would have the story flow a lot of good.
Yet, when it comes to action, either fights or emotions or sex, there's nothing to bitch about. Those scenes are fast-paced and powerfully written. Even though some sex scenes come across as gratuitous, they are particularly beautiful and nothing to complain about.
Considering the multitude of complicated plot lines, they were surprisingly smoothly woven together with just the tiniest inconsistencies regarding former and present incarnations by the end.

The main reason why I found this hard to rate was the fact that I'm German. I was enticed when I saw one of the main characters was my nationality, and it amused me greatly that Brian thought Alrick's German accent erotic. The story is peppered with background info about East/ West Germany and untranslated German words and phrases. And this is where my but comes in. With a capital B.
Alrick's German is awful, plain and simple. Most of the time he uses outdated or completely inappropriate words and has no command of grammar. This makes him sound uneducated, even stupid although he clearly is anything but. His sister is just as bad. I won't harp on about Alrick's backstory, there are some facts which aren't quite right, but forgiveable since this is fiction, after all. But why, if Alrick being a German is so very important, not have the book proofread by a German native speaker? Those mistakes thoroughly marred Alrick's character for me, to a point I found him annoying and couldn't enjoy the story anymore. Yet, someone who doesn't speak German probably wouldn't notice anything at all, thus I couldn't let this influence my rating.

I'd recommend this book for fantasy - fans and romantics who don't mind a bit of repetitive telling. It's got a fascinating plot and a good story.

'Till Darkness Falls is part of DSP's Bittersweet Dreams Series which features m/m romance stories with untraditional endings.

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