March 2009, Paranormal Historical (Early 1800s Europe)
Signet Eclipse, $7.99, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451226321 Part of a series
The Gardella Vampire Chronicles comes to a close with As Shadows Fade. In this series, Gleason has produced consistently wonderful books, and it was with a measure of sadness and satisfaction that I read the final page. All five of the books will sit on my shelf and no doubt be read over and over. This gripping series culminates in a book thatís full of romance, action, and sacrifice. Iíll try to describe it well enough without giving anything away.
At the end of When Twilight Burns, Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy finally realizes what she wants and she immediately sets out to obtain it. But, for this task, she canít rely on the Venatorial skills sheís picked up during several years of battling evil. No, this war will be fought on a different front, with daring outfits, subtle and not-so-subtle reminders of events past, and all her feminine charms. For Victoria has set her sights on the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, even though heís willing to deny their love for the greater good.
Things would be much simpler if she had just one man to contend with, but Victoria has two men in her life. Despite the fact that sheís chosen who she wants, she still deeply cares for and feels strong attraction to the second man, which makes things confusing at times. To my great surprise, when the book closed, I still deeply cared for both men. Often, when an author picks a horse, the loser is tainted in some way to affirm that decision. Not so here. Though he doesnít win the girl, I canít even call the second man a loser Ė heís much too good for that. I truly felt for him and hope to see him again some day.
As usual, Victoria must deal with her personal life while protecting humanity from the various evils of the world. The long-time counselor of the Venators, Wayren, goes missing and when the Venators track her down, they encounter a new type of demon. With Wayrenís help, they learn that a portal must have opened, releasing these stronger, more potent demons into the world. But, they also learn that theyíll need some artifacts from Lilith, the queen of the vampires, in order to close the breach. This is all well and good for Victoria, because she already made plans to remove the threat of Lilith, whose obsession with Venator Max Pesaro has caused a lot of turmoil. There are battles aplenty, though readers of the series should be aware that this book places a little more focus on emotional struggles than the others have.
I have fallen in love with all the characters in this series. Through the series theyíve grown and changed through their struggles and at the conclusion theyíre all in top form. Victoria has learned sacrifice and perspective. I didnít like certain aspects of her character in the beginning of the series, but sheís refined the parts of herself that needed refining and grown into a wonderfully likeable character. This book focuses a lot more on romance and the relationships between the three main characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Victoria experience the myriad of emotions encountered.
The men in Victoria's life have undergone great changes as well. Sebastien Vioget has experienced a dramatic transformation, and I was cheering on the truly noble and selfless person heís become. Max learns to lower some of his walls, but he is the character that changes the least. From the beginning, heís been the stalwart heroic fighter, making the tough, but correct, decisions. These strong characters will stay with me and Iím going to enjoy visiting them again and again.
This book was near perfect for me, and the only thing I could have used more of was the action. I loved As Shadows Fade, and in fact, I loved the whole series. I expected the conclusion to be great and it didnít disappoint. The romance between the heroine and her hero was just what Iíd been waiting for, and their love scenes were emotional and incredibly sexy. Colleen Gleason is a wonderful storyteller and I canít wait to see what she comes up with next.
-- Andi Davis
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