Sunday, August 7, 2011

Snippet Reviews: Immortals After Dark

Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark books remain among my favorite paranormal romance series. Even after nine full sized novels and several novellas the stories haven't lost much momentum.

The overarching plot involves all of the creatures of the Lore (vampires, valkyries, witches shape-shifters, and so on) heading toward war with one another in a classic good vs. evil epic battle. Each book features a different couple on a mission or journey. The timelines of each book overlap with one another, giving the overall series a fun nonlinear style.Cole uses a lot of traditional tropes and plot devices found in paranormal romance, but she also has a talent for turning some of those tropes on their ear. The variety of story types will keep even a jaded reader intrigued.

Book 1: A Hunger Like No Other: Lachlain, the leader of the Lykae, escapes from years of torture at the hands of vampires when he catches the scent of him fated mate. Emmaline, half valkyrie and half vampire, is the last person Lachlain would have chosen or expected as a mate, but he's determined to claim her anyway. The interactions between them are intense. I was struck by the familiar imbalance of power between the too--Lachlain being extremely powerful and overbearing, Emmaline being somewhat sheltered and helpless. This is a sexy, if somewhat irritatingly anti-feminist trope. It's forgivable in this book because Emma really comes into her own by the end, and Lachlain becomes a bit gentler (without being totally de-clawed). Really great first book. 4 stars.

Book 2: No Rest for the Wicked: Kaderin the Cold Hearted, a valkyrie known for her skill in slaying vampires, competes in an Amazing Race style tournament for immortals, hoping to win a prize she covets desperately. Sebastian, knowing that Kaderin is his Bride (fated mate), competes as well in hopes of winning Kaderin over. I liked that Kaderin was such an alpha female, while Sebastain (though quite alpha like in his own right) is not quite as domineering as your typical paranormal romance hero. I loved how much action and adventure this book featured, and I really got into the competitive nature of the plot. 5 stars.

Book 3:Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night: Bowen, a Lykae, once lost his mate when she tragically ran from him. Now, a witch named Mariketa appears to be his mate. Bowen struggles with his prejudice against witches and Mariketa's desire to build her power. Unfortunately this wasn't a favorite book for me. I didn't care for Bowen as a hero, I found him irrational and overbearing most of the time. I liked Mariketa, but I didn't feel like she and Bowen were a good match. 2.5 stars.

Book 4: Dark Needs at Night's Edge: Conrad, a mostly mad vampire, is locked in a house haunted by Naomi, the ghost of a former ballerina. This is the most successful attempt I've seen at using a ghost as the protagonist of a paranormal romance. It makes for such beautiful imagery, comedy, and an extremely touching romance. I also liked that the hero was inexperienced when it came to sex and women--you don't see too many virgin heroes. 5 stars.

Book 5: Dark Desires After Dusk: Holly is a half valkyrie who knows nothing of her heritage. It turns out that she's the Vessel, a special woman destined to carry a child that will become a warrior for ultimate good or ultimate evil. Cadeon, a demon mercenary, initially intends to kidnap for his own purposes, but ends up in love with her instead. Holly has some rather adorable nerd tendencies and OCD, which I quite enjoyed. I wasn't quite as enthusiastic about Cadeon as a hero. He felt underdeveloped to me. 4 stars.

Book 6: Kiss of a Demon King: Dethrone demon king Rydstorm falls in love with the evil sorceress Sabine. I was really excited that the heroine had such a dark personality, and I found her back story intensely interesting. Rydstorm is not quite as interesting, but still manages to be three dimensional. The romance is surprisingly satisfying. The plot drags a bit in some places, but for the most part it keeps your interest. 4.5 stars.

Book 7: Pleasure of a Dark Prince: Garreth, prince of the Lykae, discovers that Lucia the valkyrie and master archer is his mate. Lucia actively runs from him, busy pursuing her own mission. Lucia has some old scores to settle and an apocalypse to avert. Lucia and Garreth are probably my favorite couple of the series, I feel that they have a lot of chemistry. The timeline of this book goes all the way back to book one, and I thought that was pretty impressive. 5 stars.

Book 8: Demon From the Dark: Carrow the witch is blackmailed and sent to Oblivion, a hell plane, to apprehend Malkom (a half demon, half vampire). Malkom is pretty violent and isolated by nature, for good reason. I found him intensely interesting. I liked Carrow as well, and she develops a great deal throughout the book--from carefree party girl to responsible guardian. I felt their chemistry was a bit forced, but it still had it's moments. 4 stars.

Book 9: Dreams of a Dark Warrior: This one has an ambitious plot. Regin, a valkyrie, meets Aiden the berserker when she's very young. He fully intends to make her his mate, but dies before he can win his immortality. Several incarnations later, he's back as Declan Chase, a human involved in the capture, torture and murder of immortals. Regin remains one of my all time favorite characters, with her humor and fierceness. With Chase, I felt that Cole struggled to go from villain to fully redeemed hero. It was a little unbelievable, and I just didn't connect with him as strongly as I wanted to--and therefore didn't fully buy into the romance. 3.5 stars.

All things told, this remains an above average series and I always look forward to new releases.Happy Reading!

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