Series: IMMORTALS AFTER DARK
Plot Type: Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence—4, Sensuality—4-5, Humor—1-3
Publisher and Titles: Pocket
1 The Warlord Wants Forever (novella introducing the series, 11/2011)(also included in Playing Easy to Get anthology, 2006)(new revision in Blood Red Kiss anthology, 2016)(Click HERE to read my review of this story.)
2 A Hunger Like No Other (Pocket Books, 3/2006)
3 No Rest for the Wicked (Pocket Books, 10/2006)
4 Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Pocket Books, 9/2007)
5 Dark Deeds at Night's Edge (Pocket Books, 4/2008)
6 Dark Desires after Dusk (Pocket Books, 5/2008)
7 Kiss of a Demon King (Pocket Books, 1/2009)
8 "Untouchable" (novella in Deep Kiss of Winter—Pocket Books, 10/2009)
9 Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Pocket Books, 2/2010)
10 Demon from the Dark (Pocket Books, 8/2010)
11 Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Pocket Books, 2/2011)
12 Lothaire (Gallery Books, Pocket Books, 1/2012)
13 Shadow's Claim (Pocket Books, 11/2012)
15 Dark Skye (Gallery Books, 8/2014)
16 Sweet Ruin (Gallery Books, 12/2015)
17 Shadow's Seduction (novella—Valkyrie Press, 2/2017)
18 Wicked Abyss (Gallery Books, 4/2017)
NOVEL 18: Wicked Abyss
As the novel begins, Lila is working as a princess at Disneyland when two visitors pay her a surprise visit: King Saetth, her fey fiancé who banished her to the mortal world from her home realm of Sylvan after her parents plotted his murder, and the infamous troublemaker, Nïx, the eccentric, all-knowing soothsayer. Saetth will allow Lila to return home after 13 years of exile if she agrees to be kidnapped and sent to Pandemonia (aka Hell) where she will then spy on King Abyssian. Abyssian is a member of the villainous Møriør, which I describe at some length in my review of Sweet Ruin. In that book, Sian's brother was the king and he was just a prince, but his brother has died, so Sian has ascended to the throne. Nïx and her allies know that the Møriør plans to attack Sylvan and—eventually—the Earth, so they need Lila to get to work on seducing Sian so that she can ferret out the Møriør's plans for upcoming battles and get details about the alliance and its leader, Orion.
After Saetth and Nïx explain the plan and promise to extract Lila as soon as she gets enough information, Nïx explains that Lila has three advantages over Abyssian: "You can read and write his language...You developed mental blocks against mind reading..."—and then she explodes a huge bombshell that shocks Lila to her core—"And you are his mate." Lila is stunned. Both Saetth and Nïx immediately promise Lila that being the demon's mate is a good thing because Abyssian would never harm his mate. Lila cannot believe that her fiancé doesn't mind "another male's hands all over me...A Møriør touching your future queen," but Saetth responds calmly that "this is the only logical course" and declares that he's fine with her mission. At that point, the irrepressible Nïx pipes up to say, "You don't have to go all the way...Just a great deal of the way." Lila remains shocked and troubled by the fact that Saetth is O.K. with her seducing Absynnian, and she is terrified of what could happen to her in Pandemonia at the hands of its demon king. On the other hand, she is so desperate to get back to Sylvan and become its queen that finally—with much trepidation—she agrees to their plan. Although Lila didn't turn against Saetth when he banished her from Sylvan, this scene should make her realize what a total jerk he is.
Meanwhile in Pandemonia, Abyssian (aka Sian) is getting used to his new royal powers, which are considerable. He is also keeping himself in a constant state of rage by immersing himself in angst-filled memories of the horrific way his mate treated him ten thousand years ago when she rejected, humiliated, and betrayed him and then married another man and died in childbirth soon thereafter. Sian constantly replays these scenes from his long-ago past, and now that he has heard that his mate has been reincarnated, he describes to his dragon buddy, Uthyr, exactly how he is going to punish her. Oops! It seems that Nïx "forgot" to mention that whole reincarnation catastrophe to Lila.
The entire book focuses on Sian and Lila, from Sian's initial violence towards her all the way through to the inevitable HEA that you know is coming. In fact, throughout most of the story, Sian and Lila are the only characters, with occasional visits from Uthyr. Sian is a rage-filled demon who sees Lila as the same woman who rejected and betrayed him centuries ago. Lila is a self-sufficient young woman whose motto is FITFO: "Figure it the f--- out."
A slender story line near the end adds a few more characters and some non-relationship-related suspense, but really this is all about the two lead characters and the flip-flops of love/hate, trust/distrust, and rage/joy emotions that define their relationship. Get ready for a LOT of angst-filled interior monologues and snarky dialogue (plus an abundance of graphically portrayed erotic sex).
During the first half of the book, Sian keeps Lila locked up in a spider-infested, bare, stone cell overlooking a river of lava. At first, he gives her impossible tasks to complete and threatens her with torture and/or death, but soon she shows her feisty side (and if you didn't expect her to be feisty, you haven't read many paranormal romances!) and that really turns Sian on. Lila explains her FITFO motto to him and promises to escape from her prison and then to outthink him in every situation—a perfect challenge for the rage-filled demon king. She starts by making friends with two of the giant spiders that Sian has placed around her cage to scare her.
About halfway into the book, lustful feelings begin to develop between the two of them, and from that point on, the sensuality level rises steadily and quickly up to a burning hot peak. When the moment of consummation finally arrives, Sian muses that he has "waited ten thousand two hundred and thirty-four years, three months, and seventeen days for his female to return to him." He tells her, "You were worth the wait." You would think that their relationship would proceed smoothly after their smoking hot "wedding night," but you would be wrong...so very wrong.
Unfortunately, both are still keeping secrets from one another, and Sian still can't let go of his ten thousand years of rage: As the dominant demon in Pandemonia, Sian's demonish appearance and barely controlled emotions are steadily growing more and more extreme. The only way he can stop this process is to find the Hellfire that is hidden somewhere within Pandemonia, but Sian has searched everywhere and has given up on finding it. He knows that he will continue to grow more and more bestial in appearance and more and more irrational in his behavior and emotions, but he does not mention this major detail to Lila because he fears that she will be disgusted and frightened and turn away from him. Meanwhile, Lila is keeping her big secret that she is a spy for Sian's enemies. Even after their personal relationship improves, she knows that he will never believe that she has changed her mind about him because he still believes that she has the potential to be exactly like Karinna (the Fey princess who betrayed him—the one from whom Lila has reincarnated). Even near the end of the book after the two have bared their souls to one another and have seemingly come to terms with their differences, Sian just can't let go of that long-ago betrayal and the connection between Karinna and Lila.
The hard-cover version of this book is 383 pages long—almost too many pages to focus on one couple's love story without any other interceding action. I have read so many paranormal romances over the years that I just skimmed through the pages of passionately erotic love scenes (which tend to blur together). But then there were the constant trust/distrust tricks that Sian and Lila kept playing on one another, which really did get old after awhile. The big finale, though, was action-filled, exciting, and unpredictable in its own way. Even though I knew how it had to end, I was unable to figure out just how Cole was going to resolve the three-way conflict among Lila, Sian, and Saetth—so congratulations to the author on a terrific, fast-paced ending.
This series is definitely nearing its end because the Accession is imminent. Here is Cole's description of the Accession as excerpted from "The Living Book of Lore" as "a time when all immortal beings in the Lore must fight and destroy each other." Here are three important facts about the Accession:
> It is "a kind of mystical checks-and-balances system for an ever-growing population of immortals."
> There are "three major alliances: the Pravus League, the Vertas Rule and the Møriør." (The Pravus League comprises vampires, some demons, wendigos, and other evil supernaturals. The Vertas Rule comprises Valkyrie, Wiccae, Fae, and Lykae and is led by Nïx. The Møriør comprises five primordial entities—a demon, a witch, a vampire, and a werewolf—and is led by Orion, a being of unknown descent who has the ability to alter his appearance and his scent.) I kept wondering whether the mysterious fawn that keeps appearing out of nowhere to lead Lila out of danger and to provide her with assistance in Pandemonia could actually be Orion.
> It "occurs every five hundred years. Or right now..."If you are a series fan, you won't want to miss this novel because it sets up an important alliance that will affect the Accession. To read or listen to an excerpt from Wicked Abyss, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.
Although various groups within the Lore fight each other, they have a common human enemy: the Order. This group, which hides behind science, captures supernaturals, imprisons them, and experiments on them in a variety of horrific ways, including vivisection. The Order's ultimate goal is to rid the world of all supernatural beings. The leader of the Order is Commander Preston Webb.
The series has won two RITA awards for best paranormal romance: A Hunger Like No Other in 2007 and Kiss of a Demon King in 2010.
On Cole's web site, she presents a list of the major characters in the series and a glossary of terms. Cole also has an FAQ page for the series.
Here are the names and species of the happy couples in each book:
> The Warlord Wants Forever: Nikolai Wroth (Forbearer Vamp) & Myst the Coveted (Valkyrie)
> Shadow's Claim: Trehan Daciano (Prince of Shadows) & Princess Bettina of Abaddon (half-Sorceress/half-Demon
> MacGrieve: Uileam (Will) MacRieve (Lykae) & Chloe Todd (halfling Succubus)
> Sweet Ruin: Rune Darklight (Dark Fey/Demon halfling) & Josephine Doe (Phantom/Vampire hybrid)
> Shadow's Seduction: Prince Mirceo Daciano (Vamp) & Caspian the Tracker (Demon)
> Wicked Abyss: Abyssian "Sian" Infernas (Demon King of Pandemonia and All Hells) & Princess Calliope "Lila" Barbot (Princess of the Sylvan Fey Court)
SUMMARIES OF NOVELS 9 - 11
NOVEL 9: Pleasure of a Dark Prince tells the story of Lucia (Valkyrie) and Garreth (Lykae) as they attempt to defeat the evil Cruach, the ancient horned god of human sacrifices and cannibalism, who tricked Lucia into leaving Valhalla. Lucia has defeated Cruach several times, but every 500 years during the Accession, he attempts to escape. Garreth has been chasing after Lucia for years, sure that she is his destined mate, but Lucia believes that if she mates with anyone she will lose her cherished skills as an archer. The action takes place at the mouth of the Amazon River, where the couple works together to defeat Cruach one last time. To read or listen to an excerpt from Pleasures of a Dark Prince, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.
NOVEL 10: Demon from the Dark tells the story of party-girl Carrow Graie (warrior witch) and tormented hero Malkom Slaine (vampire demon, aka venom), and it fits right in with the general structure of the series. This hero and heroine must escape from imprisonment by evil mortal experimenters who want to know the source of their powers. To read or listen to an excerpt from Demon from the Dark, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.
NOVEL 11: Dreams of a Dark Warrior tells the story of Regin the Radiant (fun-loving Valkyrie) and her centuries-old romance with Aidan the Fierce (mortal Berserker warrior). The original Aidan died a thousand years ago, immediately after he and Regin had sex for the very first time. Aiden has been reincarnated four times since then, and during each reincarnation he and Regin always find each other with the exact same results: immediate death for Aiden. Now, the fifth "Aiden" has appeared in the form of Declan Chase, the Magister of an experimental facility run by the Order, a group of supernatural-hating humans.
When he was seventeen, Declan was tortured by some horrible supernaturals who also killed his parents, so now his goal in life is to discover the weaknesses of supernaturals and kill as many as he can. In one of his sweeps through New Orleans, Declan captures Regin and immediately begins to realize that his response to her is different than it has been with other captives. Nevertheless, he tortures her horribly (the violence rating of this book is 5). Events at the lab have the same sequence as in the previous book, which followed Malkolm and Carrow as they escaped. Dreams of a Dark Warrior tells Regin's story as she tries to escape and Declan's story as he tries to come to terms with the fact that he may actually be a supernatural—one of the creatures he hates most in the world. The ending has a few twists, so don't think that you have it figured out until almost the last page. To read or listen to an excerpt from Dreams of a Dark Warrior, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.
NOVEL 12: Lothaire
Lothaire, one of darkest villains of the series, is a Fallen vampire, having taken the blood of both mortals and immortals for centuries. His strategy has been to manipulate an immortal into an impossible position and then appear miraculously to save the day—but only if the immortal will agree to owe Lothaire a favor, any favor that he wants, in exchange for his help. Lothaire keeps a ledger containing the names of all who owe him these debts. At the root of Lothaire's hard-hearted approach to existence is his tragic personal history. Since he was a child, he has lived only for revenge against those who wronged him and his mother centuries ago. Lothaire was a major player in the escape from the island that was described in the previous books.
The book's heroine is Elizabeth (Ellie) Pearce, who grew up in poverty in the Appalachian mountains, where her male relatives all worked in the coal mines. When the spirit of an evil goddess (Saroya) possesses her, she becomes an unwilling and unknowing murderess and winds up on death row. Lothaire rescues Ellie moments before her execution, believing that the goddess within her is his intended vampire Bride (aka soul mate). As the story plays out, Lothaire treats Ellie horribly, with constant emotional and physical abuse. Lothaire and Saroya plan to destroy Ellie's soul so that Saroya will have complete control over Ellie's body—and they aren't shy about reminding Ellie of this. Then they will carry out Lothaire's plans for revenge and eventually become the king and queen of two realms. Needless to say, those plans don't exactly play out as planned.
Of all the books in the series, this is my least favorite. Lothaire is a cruel, calculating, villainous character who shows absolutely no redeeming qualities until the final pages. His treatment of Ellie is vile and despicable, and her love for him is absolutely incomprehensible. He savagely belittles her and her Appalachian roots, threatens to kill her family members, promises to destroy her soul, hurts her during sexual acts, controls every decision about her life, and never apologizes for any of this until almost the last page of the book. Ellie responds at first with rage, but soon she becomes sexually attracted to Lothaire and then falls totally in love with him. She is portrayed as an intelligent woman, but her behavior belies that. The plot line is as action filled as the other books in the series, but this central relationship held so many horrors that I didn't enjoy reading the book. To read or listen to an excerpt from Lothaire, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.
Except for Lothaire, I love this series. It has all of the elements that I look for in a paranormal romance: intricate and compelling plots, a cohesive series story arc, and (usually) a twist at the end. And Nïx is one of my favorite paranormal characters ever. I can't wait to read her story.
NOVEL 13: Shadow's Claim
This one somehow slipped by me, so I'm including the publisher's blurb, but no review. To read or listen to an excerpt from Shadow's Claim, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on either the cover art for print or the "Listen" icon for audio.
Shadow’s Claim features Prince Trehan, a ruthless master assassin who will do anything to possess Bettina, his beautiful sorceress mate, even compete for her hand in a blood-sport tournament—to the death.
Chloe Todd is not your typical 20-something woman. She is a professional soccer player—the star of her team and a ferocious competitor. Chloe has no idea that her father is involved in the Order. She believes that her dad's name is Dustin Todd and that he is a businessman who travels constantly on business. Just before Dad leaves on yet another business trip, Chloe tells him that she has been feeling strange lately. Oddly, her father just hands her a book about the Lore and goes off to catch his plane—never to return home. Preston Webb is all too aware that the supernaturals are looking for him, and he has gone into hiding. He also now realizes that his daughter isn't as human as he had hoped she was.
The book ends in a double cliffhanger involving the separate stories of Preston Webb and Munro. To read or listen to an excerpt from MacRieve, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on the cover art for print or the "Listen" icon for audio. One last point: This is my least favorite cover art in the whole series—what's with that single staring eye? Kinda creepy.
NOVEL 15: Dark Skye
NOVEL 16: Sweet Ruin
An immortal assassin is caught between desire and duty in this sizzling new novel from Kresley Cole’s #1 New York Times bestselling Immortals After Dark series.
At this point in Rune’s life, he spends most of his time having sex with nymphs because they will always provide information in exchange for his famous sexual prowess. Rune keeps himself emotionally detached during his information-gathering assignations and lives with the fear that because he constantly represses his emotions, the day will come when he will no longer be able to feel any true emotions at all. Rune’s mixed-up heritage has given him poisonous black blood that will instantly kill anyone it touches, as will all of his bodily fluids, if you get my drift. So no kissing and no ejaculation for Rune—not ever, unless he wants the recipient to die. Because of his emotional repression and his poisonous blood, Rune is pretty sure that he will never have a mate, and he has resigned himself to his fate.
Currently, Jo is in New Orleans, where she roams the streets protecting prostitutes from harm and spending time in various “shells,” which is what she calls people she is able to passively possess and experience their actions and emotions for short periods of time. Jo is very tough and highly intelligent, but she is low on social skills and completely illiterate—no time for school in her hard, hard life. Ever since she can remember, she has had sporadic dreams about explosions, flashing lights, and stars, but she has no idea what these dreams mean. The fact that she can’t remember anything about her earliest years is a constant frustration for her. When she rises from the dead with a set of magical powers, she assumes that she is some kind of superhero—or perhaps a super villain.
NOVEL 17: Shadow's Seduction
This novel slipped past me, so I'm just including its publisher's blurb here. If/when I have time, I will read it and add a review at a later date.
In this scorching IMMORTALS AFTER DARK/DACIAN novel, Kresley Cole brings together a wicked vampire prince used to getting everything he desires and a demon warrior who always felt like an outcast.