Friday, December 23, 2005

The Kissing Blades by Jessica Hall

Having now finished the White Tiger trilogy with The Kissing Blades, I understand better how Jessica Hall (A.K.A. Sheila Kelly) writes her romances and why I enjoy them. She writes almost a Russian novel with numerous people coming in and becoming part of a complex story that, while sharing elements with an intrigue romance, is more of a big family than terror and tension. Yes, tension happens, lives are at stake, people betray and make mistakes both of the heart and of loyalties but what sticks with me are the people.

This book brought to a romantic conclusion the story of one man who caught my attention from the very beginning and yet never seemed destined for a happy ending. Every time he came close, even in his friendships much less a romantic relationship, something went horribly wrong, leaving him a drunk who only wanted to vanish from view. It wouldn't have mattered if he was less likeable, if Sean Delaney was uninteresting, rude, boorish or anything to make him less of the man that he has been in book after book. Of all the characters in the trilogy, he seems the most abused, the most left with nothing to live for. Yet, here he gets his own book...well, almost ;). And it's a satisfying one.

My only quibble with The Kissing Blades would be that it seemed a little too determined to tie off all threads. Still, it failed in this endeavor because at least one of them of an age to be paired up is alone at the end. And one of the tie ups struck me as a little pushed. It seems like that relationship still has some angst before it gets settled. Had I been reading this as it was published rather than behind as usual, I would be worried that the Jessica Hall persona was hanging up her pen. However, as I have two more from her on my to-be-read pile, I'll just accept that there's more to come...whether from the extensions of this huge, international family she's formed or from some completely unknown characters. I know I'll enjoy those ones too.

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