Review: Kiss of Pride (Deadly Angels #1) by Sandra Hill
The seventh son of a seventh son, Vikar’s luck saves him from eternal damnation when the archangel Michael offers him a second chance at life. Guilty of the sin of Pride as a mortal, Vikar has been remade into a vampire-angel and, along with his brothers, serves his continuing penance by saving souls on the brink of evil. Alex, a reporter on the edge of emotional sanity after her family was murdered, figures she’ll take this fluffy vampire assignment, learn about this supposed Lord Vikar in the tiny town of Transylvania, then move on with her depressing life and retire. Oh, but Michael has much more in store for Vikar and Alex, as they team up to fight an even bigger battle. Viking vampire angels, you say? Kiss of Pride is a must-read!
- Title: Kiss of Pride
- Series: Deadly Angels #1
- Author: Sandra Hill
- Prominent Characters: Vikar, Alex
- Recommended Reader Age: 16+
- Sexual Content Level: moderate
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Our story takes place in Transylvania. No, not THAT Transylvania! The one in Pennsylvania. Like the real Forks, WA, this little town makes its living off vampires (har har)… of course, they don’t realize there are real vampires up in that creepy stone monstrosity on the hill. The townspeople happily go about their business selling “Bite me!” t-shirts and having “blood drinking” contests.
After an atrocious start to the story (which I will talk more about below), it picks up and becomes immediately entertaining as soon as we’re in Alex’s fearless, saucy little head. When she meets the “silly dancing vampire vikings”, the chemistry between her and Vikar fairly dominates the pages. Their verbal sparring and physical interaction is highly amusing and worth the read nearly on its own. While Alex is a take-charge, precocious, determined go-getter with a decidedly dirty mouth, Vikar is sharp, witty, capable, and pretty much irresistible, with his flawless good looks and physique. Pride was the sin that took him down, and he still struggles with it over 1,000 years later. Without giving away too much, Alex seems to be headed for dangerous moral territory herself, and I don’t mean of the lustful variety…
I had a few issues with character consistency in Kiss of Pride. Sometimes Alex seems to almost believe Vikar’s vangel (vampire angel, as opposed to demon angel) tale and other times she doesn’t. She gets friendly and comfortable with him a little too fast for my comfort. It takes away some of the credibility, if a viking vampire angel paranormal romance novel can really be called “believable” to begin with, and distracts from the story. The writing style, with all the exuberant punctuation, and amiable, light hearted characters, reminds me of Lynsay Sands and her Argeneau vampire series. That’s not a critique so much as a stylistic reference. If you like the Argeneau stories, especially the more comedic ones, you’ll probably also enjoy this book.
The premise of Kiss of Pride is interesting and fairly unique. Ms. Hill took real bits of history and wove in fiction to create the framework for this series… like the fact that the vikings all mysteriously died out over a short period of time, and our modern obsession with goth culture and all things vampire. The personality of the story is almost cheerful and fun, sometimes in an over-the-top kind of way. And boy, is it quotable! This is no dark fantasy – it’s a humorous, witty stroll through pop culture and the vampire phenomenon. Sometimes it almost seems to make fun of itself, which, in retrospect, gives the intro a whole different spin. Coming back to that…
The opening of Kiss of Pride is like the start of a fable, narrating the history of the Viking people from conception to glory to decline. It’s a nice, nostalgic way to start the book, but comes off a little cheesy. Right off, as the story starts, I found the dialogue and character personas extremely offputting. Would Michael the Archangel REALLY say “whew!” or use excessive exclamation points? Would a badass Viking vampire say “oh no!” or “ha ha ha!” or “oops! ” or “oh, clouds!”? The dialogue and introspection of the characters is so sugary-sweet and over-the-top, it’s damn near satirical. The prologue almost feels like it was written for a grade school student sometimes, yet there are very adult elements. On top of that, the first time Vikar was introduced, I immediately disliked him. He had almost no redeeming qualities in that first meeting with Michael, and with so many negatives piling up, I was sorely tempted to stop reading before I even hit the first chapter. However…
What started out as a book I nearly abandoned in the first few pages quickly became a fun, entertaining read that I just couldn’t put down. This is a new kind of vampire tale, one of Viking vampire angels and all the silliness, male rivalry, brotherhood, and dedication you can probably imagine that entails. The religious overtones were noticeably pushy, but the writing was so entertaining that I was mostly able to overlook that. As the end of the book approached, I didn’t want it to end and immediately wondered how long we’ll have to wait for the next story… and whose it will be.
Monty Python + Dracula = ironically scary combo!
Midway between Penn State University and Harrisburg lies a sleepy small town that can only be described as Twilight meets Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with a little Monty Python satire tossed in for special effect. Transylvania, Pennsylvania, is not for the faint of heart …
Oh pop culture, how I <3 thee…
“Ah! Twilight again! I wish that book had never been written. And True Blood! I swear, those Sookie Stackhouse books give vampires a bad name! I ask you, Sabeam, did you ever see a wussier vampire than Vampire Bill?”
Mmmm, Eric Northman…
“Dost think I resemble Brad Pitt?” He referred, of course, to Anne Rice’s Creole vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac.
“No.” You’re better. “More like Eric Northman, if you must know.” But, even then, he was better. Not so lean. Not so modern-looking.
If you liked Kiss of Pride…
The sassy, happy-go-lucky feel of the writing in Kiss of Pride reminded me of the Argeneau Vampire series by Lynsay Sands (starting with A Quick Bite). I’ve found that this style of reading is not for everyone (it can be tough to get past the sometimes-prissy personalities of the characters and the constant serendipity of the plotlines), but for those who do like lighter vampire romance novels, definitely check out Under A Vampire Moon, the 16th book in the Argeneau series. You don’t need to read these in order, but it definitely helps. I found that UaVM is separate enough from the converging plotlines of the previous books and is representative enough of Ms. Sands writing style that it’ll give you a good idea of whether or not the series is for you. Be aware though, there are a LOT of characters in UaVM, several of whom are not fleshed out because they have their own previously published, dedicated novels.
The final chapter of this gem of a novel really summed up the journey it took me on. Cynicism is a cloak many of us wear as armor and I was definitely guilty of judging this book on its unexpected and unusual style of prologue. Equal parts cheekiness and pop culture, Kiss of Pride will take you flying, trading in your initial snarkiness for some fairly wholesome paranormal fun where even the unlikely combination of Vikings and vampires and angels ends up sounding not so preposterous afterall. Bring on the next sin! If tongue-in-cheek is your style, Kiss of Pride is a must read!
Rating: Kiss of Pride
*This book was originally reviewed by DaVinciKittie for, and posted on, UrbanGirlReader.com