|Title: Deadly is the Kiss
Author: Rhyannon Byrd
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Reviewed by: Julia
Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.
Tasked with protecting humanity from harm, the last thing Ashe Granger was searching for on his mission was his destined mate. Then, a mysterious dark-eyed beauty reluctantly offered him shelter. A spark of danger—and a soul-deep recognition—ignited a burning, carnal need….Since her family’s exile, Juliana Sabin had borne full responsibility for their safety. So when evil struck, she had no choice but to ally herself with the sexy guardian vampire. Now, months later, Ashe is back and tempting Juliana to reveal her darkest secrets…and desires. For the killer stalking the shadows isn’t acting alone—and he won’t rest until his deadly cravings are fulfilled.
As a paranormal romance, DEADLY IS THE KISS made me terribly nostalgic. Despite the gloss of vampires and otherworldly politics, this book is an brand of novel that I haven’t read in while. With the merest fringe of plot, the hero and heroine conjure up trope after trope as they sex their way to happily ever after. Unfortunately, none of the many plot devices that were presented were in a new or clever incarnation and the characters themselves were not any brand of archetype that I found appealing, leaving me finishing DEADLY IS THE KISS with a shrug and a sigh.
Though not apart of the Primal Instinct series arc, DEADLY IS THE KISS references characters and events from that world. As a stand alone, I had no trouble jumping into the setting, but there may have been character development from prior books that would have helped me bond with Ashe and Julianna. As is, neither one of them did anything for me. Ashe is unbearably attracted yet doesn’t want to settle down with his soul mate, and his plan to get her out of his system is a classic excuse for lots of sex scenes while maintaining the “we don’t like each other” melodrama. Watching him slip “I can’t help respecting you” moments into the story was neither surprising nor interesting, especially considering his Mary Sue soul mate. Julianna is a sweet, uncomplaining, virgin-enough martyr who plays strictly by the romance book. The worst of both of these character extremes comes to ahead when Ashe and Julianna confront their feelings and between that moment and the end of the book they never redeemed themselves in my eyes. To readers who have anticipated Ashe and Julianna through past books, this wham-bam relationship was probably a thrill fest. As for myself, with little or no emotional interest in this pair, DEADLY IS THE KISS was a mechanical survey of the who-where-how of sex scenes interspersed with low self esteem and emotional missteps. The only trope spin came in the epilogue, where Byrd takes a new tact with the “surprise we’re having a baby” moment, but that attempt at a touching scene had me more worried about the laxity of vampire social services than feeling any closer to these two.
Don’t let my litany of dislikes fool you, however, this book is well written despite the shallow content. There were a few instances where one of the characters has to announce a piece of lore for those of us that are new (Ashe pausing at a critical moment to explain why he didn’t need a condom being my favorite ridiculous example), but on the whole Byrd does a good job with pacing, dialogue, and back-story. I’m a little interested in the Primal Instinct series that established this world to see if the characters get more development (and therefore I enjoy it more), but I’m definitely in no hurry.