Jacqueline Carey returns to the world of Terre d’Ange in Naamah’s Kiss, set a century after the events of her previous books. The magically modified historical Europe has progressed into the 16th Century, with tales of a new world away west across the sea, but not-France seems content to rest upon her laurels as a center of love and decadence. Into this more superficial version of a country already obsessed with beauty and fame is thrust Moirin, a half-Alban girl with a capital-d Destiny, descended from the same magical small folk that gave Prince Imriel such trouble during the previous trilogy. Of course, as the other half of her descent is a d’Angeline priest of Naamah, the goddess of Love, it can be no surprise that her parentage and uncivilized mien make her an instant success. Unfortunately, she spends the first two thirds of the book on that, laying groundwork for events in future unwritten books before actually engaging in the plot of this one.
On the bright side, once that plot gets a move on, it’s really quite pleasant, racing to the far corner of the world to rescue a not-Chinese princess from a demon. If you can leave aside the iffy pacing, the book has a lot of things to like. A circle of demon-summoners, ancient Ch’in wisdom, cliff-diving, an implausible amount of lipstick lesbianism, chases, escapes, true love… y’know. Stuff a sick kid would want his grandfather to read to him. But, okay, even if it’s clearly not that funny, it did feel like something out of a storybook. If that sounds ridiculous, take it as me having accepted the characters that thoroughly, by the end. Pacing issues or not, I care about these characters and want to know what happens to them next.
 not-England, don’t you know