January 31, 2013

Jeri Smith-Ready: "Bring on the Night"

Title: Bring on the Night [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: WVMP Radio (3rd of 4 books, but there's also a free-download novella that is book 3.5 in the series. See Jeri Smith-Ready's site)
Author: Jeri Smith-Ready [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 2010
Age: 18+ (though Jeri's site actually says 16+, but I think the whole series would be better handled by more mature readers. All the more so because of what stated in the Cons below).
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Original take on the overused vampire theme. Interesting, mostly tridimensional characters. Lots of adrenaline, even in the not-action-driven moments.
Cons: More graphic sex scenes in this one (if you aren't into the stuff) - even an almost-threesome with two girls involved. Gorier than the previous chapters. Radio station and music play a big role in the series, but they're less prominent almost nonexistent in this installment.
Will appeal to: Those who like this series...duh. I wanted to address another point, but it would be too spoilery...

Blurb: Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin seems to finally have it all. A steady job at WVMP. A loving relationship with the idiosyncratic but eternally hot DJ Shane McAllister. And after nine years, it looks as if she might actually finish her bachelor’s degree! But fate has other plans for Ciara. First she must fulfill her Faustian bargain with the Control, the paranormal paramilitary agency that does its best to keep vampires in line. Turns out the Control wants her for something other than her (nonexistent) ability to kick undead ass. Her anti-holy blood, perhaps? Ciara’s suspicions are confirmed when she’s assigned to a special-ops division known as the Immanence Corps, run by the Control’s oldest vampire. But when a mysterious fatal virus spreads through Sherwood - and corpses begin to rise from their graves - Ciara will not only get a crash course in zombie-killing, but will be forced to put her faith, and her life itself, in the hands of magic. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: This is darn tough. Because really, writing a review for Bring On The Night means providing a big, huge, ginormous spoiler. Just one thing, but it's the very core of the book. On the other hand, without the spoiler, there would be no review at all. Or maybe...well, since Karen from For What It's Worth, for example, was able to do it, I hope I can figure out a way to do the same thing myself. I'll address the big spoiler in question with *****. Let's see if it works...
The novel opens two years after the events that took place in Bad to the Bone. And for the first time, Ciara's narrative mode is the past tense. Only in the last chapter she switches to present tense (this is purposely stressed by the author with the sentence "Ah, back in the Now, where I belong."), and my best guess is that Smith-Ready thought it fit to have Ciara recounting the ***** event as a thing from the past, since at the end of the book she has finally come to terms with it.
We left Ciara blackmailed by the Control (see book 1 and 2) into giving them a year's worth of service - and samples of her own blood - in exchange for Shane's well-being. As the book opens, she's completing Indoc(trination) and is going to find out what her final destination is, as far as Control corps are concerned. In the meantime, her relationship with Shane has taken off, and I mean seriously. The station is in the background - big sigh - but anyway, it sounds like everything's going fine there. Though I'm beginning to question the apparent ongoing success of  WVMP, what with it being a vintage station in a world where everything grows old so quickly. (Especially since there seemed to be some small problems back in book 2). Maybe the vamps' strong allure makes up for it? Anyway, this almost idyllic setup comes tumbling down when a supposed chicken pox epidemic begins to spread around and people start to die. This will have a mighty impact on the WVMP happily dysfunctional family, and will change forever the lives - or unlives - of some of its members. [...]

This installment is both darker and more action-packed than the previous one. Also, we finally get to know some characters better - namely Spencer, Noah and Franklin's boyfriend Aaron. Without entering the spoiler zone, I will comment that I would have liked to see more of the latter. Jeri did a great work in representing a gay character with genuine respect and understanding, even if for a few pages.
As usual with this series, there are some steaming hot sex scenes. By now, you all probably know I'm a bit uneasy around them, but again I have to give credit to the author for a job well done, since those scenes are functional to the story and manage not to sound contrived.
I have to quote the aforementioned Karen - the main themes of this novel are faith and lack of it. Or better, non-faith as a form of religion in itself. It's kind of funny that the first has to be represented by some of the vampires - especially Monroe, who didn't know he was walking right into being vamped back in 1940, but was going to sell his soul in order to master the blues anyway...and Shane of course, who found virtual immortality while searching for death in 1995. Obviously, Ciara gets to embody non-faith, as usual - and this will be crucial to the story in more than a way.
Ciara and Shane's relationship gets challenged in this novel - and I mean, seriously challenged. It seems a little too convenient that they can find a common ground, despite their antipathetic views (see: faith) and the big ***** event that could easily tear them apart. Still I loved to see them work it out so fiercely.
Lots of action and blood again in this installment, along with black magic and a different take on zombies - but for all the reasons stated above (including the unmentionable one), on the other hand, this is the most intimist chapter in the WVMP Radio series so far.
Did I ever mention I love Ciara's voice? Because I really do. And everyone else's too. Smith-Ready's prose is a lot of fun, even in the not-exactly-funny moments.
Again, the title of the novel comes from a song - "Bring on the Night" by The Police, 1979 (Sting used the title for his 1986 live album too). And again, every chapter is also named after a song, while Smith-Ready provides the usual book-related playlist.
As usual, this book provides a sneak peak to the next installment of the series, called Let It Bleed. Only, this time said book never made it to publication, for reasons Jeri states here. It only came out as a free-dowload novella (see above, under "Series"). Edit: It came out the following year as an ebook.
So, recommended? Well, of course...if you can cope with the sex and gore, that is. But believe me, if my little self can, you will be able to as well ;). Unless you can't stand horror stories and won't even have the word "sex" mentioned.
Wow, I did make it through this review, spoiler-issue notwithstanding. Thanks again to Karen @ For What It's Worth for the inspiration. I was so tempted to give up on a mostly spoiler-free review...but I succeeded! *congratulates self and puts a silly grin on her own face...*

For my review of "Wicked Game" (first installment in the series) click here.
For my review of "Bad to the Bone" (second installment in the series) click here.
For my review of "Let It Bleed" (installment 3.5 in the series) click here (warning: big spoiler in this one! It couldn't be avoided, being available in the blurb itself...).
For my review of "Lust for Life" (fourth installment in the series) click here  
For more Adult books (also by Jeri Smith-Ready) click here.

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