Serpent's Kiss (A Novel of the Elder Races)

Serpent's Kiss - Thea Harrison In the last story, Vampire Queen Carling Severan saved Tiago's life at Rune's request, putting him in the position of owing her a favor in the future. Well, the time has come and Rune's been summoned to pay up. He meets her in her home in an Other Land island off of San Francisco Bay, commonly referred to as Blood Alley but officially known as Avalon. Rune is surprised when he arrives to find Carling pretty much alone and not quite herself. He's strangely drawn to Carling and in spite of the favor, he decides he's going to stick with her to figure out what's going on.I really wanted to love this book and as it progressed, I was hoping to really like this book but ended up just liking it. Rune and Carling are both wonderfully developed characters, both of whom I found intriguing and multi-dimensional. It was the story around them that fell short, in my opinion. As they both worked to figure out the source and substance of Carling's "fade" episodes, I just got mired in the theories regarding the possibilities. This is a series so well known for its outstanding action and romances with an incredible ability to balance both. Not so much with this story. The time travel element was VERY interesting but the constant analyses just made my eyes cross.What worked for me, however, is the top notch character development, created mostly through the time travel aspect, which was one of the highlights of the book. I felt I knew Rune and Carling by the end of the story and understood the decisions they made about their futures. I also got their attraction to each other and liked the pairing. My hope is that these two dynamic characters aren't sidelined but play a critical role going forward.I would have been more than okay if this was just about their romance and the story being able to support just that. But, I just got to a point where I wearied of their journey and they deserved so much better. There was an exciting climax near the end that was in keeping with my expectations. It just wasn't enough to lift my overall opinion of the story.I love this series and will definitely continue. Maybe we're not done with Rune and Carling...I certainly hope not. My rating is 3.5 stars but I can't round it up to a 4 star effort.