Night’s Mistress

Amanda Ashley. Kensington/Zebra, $7.99 mass market (336p) ISBN 978-1-4201-3041-6

Ashley’s fifth Children of the Night novel (after Night’s Pleasure), a delightful romantic vampire romp, eschews graphic violence in favor of exploring deep emotions and difficult decisions. Irresistibly beautiful Mara, queen of the vampires, is despondent over having left Kyle Bowden, the mortal man she loves. Every day, Mara becomes less vampire and more human, slowly losing her ability to protect herself from her numerous enemies. Logan Blackwood, who was her lover many centuries before, reappears and provides a caring safe haven, rekindling old affections as Mara learns that she is pregnant. When Kyle finds her and confesses his love, Mara adds a romantic dilemma to her concerns over what’s best for the baby, and questions about whether predators will be able to sense her weakened state and how she can become a vampire again. Plot twists move the story along nicely, and flashbacks seamlessly provide background information, familiar faces, and hidden agendas for this surprisingly touching novel. (Aug.)