The One Where Wench Jaymie Made Wench Veronica Read a Book

Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole


You know the drill by now, right? Lucky Wench Jaymie drew my name from the virtual hat, and had the fortune or misfortune to pick a book for me to read. I say misfortune because, having participated in the process, I know how difficult it is to find a book that your partner hasn't read yet, and how nervewracking it is to find something you think they'll love as much as you did.

Jaymie picked the Immortals After Dark series for me, and I was very excited for her choice. I knew the Wenches had picked Kresley Cole quotes for several Quotes of the Day, and the IAD series had come up in discussions before. I'm always looking for new and different UF/PNR series to try, but always feel a little lost when I go looking for one amongst the sea of choices out there.

Why Immortals After Dark for Veronica?

What attracted me to the IAD series was not only the paranormal romance aspect of it, but the strong females, witty banter between the sexes, and fun, yet sometimes heartbreaking, stories behind it. But most of all, I loved the sense of humor of the female characters, and felt they were relatable and they sucked you into the story by caring so much about them — even the not-so-nice ones. I felt this would be intriguing to Veronica, and we seemed to have the same taste in UF/PNR books. I see Veronica as a strong female, who can be very witty with a great sense of humor, and I thought she would appreciate IAD the same way I would. I hope I was right!

Come with me after the jump to find out what I thought of the Immortals After Dark series. Very mild spoilers ahead.



The Verdict?

I've read the first three books in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series plus the prequel novella, and I have mixed feelings about what I've read so far. I thought they were well written and enjoyable to read for the most part. World building is an important part of any UF/PNR series, and Cole does it well in this one. However, I felt at times that IAD was traditional romance wearing UF/PNR clothing, and I'm not fond of traditional romance. The books I've read so far follow a very predictable pattern. The formula is so predictable, in fact, that I find myself continuing to read just to see whether subsequent books will break the pattern, and if they don't, how Cole is going to tell a "fresh" story with the same outline. Curiosity killed the cat and all.

Formula:
  1. Brute of a man finds his mate.
  2. Mate is unwilling, resists the mating.
  3. Sometimes the brute man resists the mating, too.
  4. Despite their best efforts, the fated mating wins out in the end.
    (Me Tarzan, You Jane. You hate me, maybe I hate you. No matter. We destined, be together. I get you alone, I make you love me.)

Each book can be read as a standalone, but as I said, IAD has an interesting mythology and backstory woven throughout, and is a fun saucy way to pass the time.

I read A Hunger Like No Other first, and I have to say I was less than impressed. To put it kindly. It's been several months since I read it, so I'm doing my best to remember the details. The book started strong. Lachlain is a Lykae, a werewolf, if you will. He's been imprisoned, and takes drastic measures to free himself. Drama! Intensity! Gore! Love it. And then we have Emma, a shy little half-vampire half-Valkyrie whose character arc through the book is to go from meek to confident and brave. And here's where the book lost me. Spoilers ahead: Because Emma is Lachlain's pre-destined mate and she resists him, he kidnaps her until he can change her mind. The females of the series being "trapped" with their fated males is a recurring theme; sometimes it's dealt with well, and sometimes not so much it's a flat-out kidnapping. But hey—that's some people's kink and I don't hate ya for it. What I do have a problem with is Emma's supposed character journey. As we go through the book, she is supposed to transform into a confident, kick-ass female. Except she doesn't. Not really. We're told that she does; over and over we're told. But her actions just show that she remains reliant on and compliant to Lachlain. We're told that she puts up a fight against her kidnapping, but I don't really buy it. The whole thing just left me with an icky Stockholm Syndrome feeling, and I didn't enjoy the book at all. My rating for A Hunger Like No Other:


But I've found that with a series, especially those recommended to me by those I trust, if I don't like the first book I should at least give book #2 a try. So on to No Rest for the Wicked. Sebastian is a human-turned-vampire against his will (oh, the angst!), and Kaderin the fey seeks vengeance against all vampires for the killing of her two sisters (really, everyone hates the vampires in this series). Kaderin is hired to assassinate Sebastian, but chooses not to. Instead, she becomes his fated Bride (of course), and they both end up competing in the Hie, a no-holds-barred competition with the prize being a magical key that can transport the winner to a point back in time, a chance to change history. Imagine an Amazing Race played by immortals with untold magical powers at their disposal to do with as they will. Brutal. I liked Kaderin and Sebastian much more than Emma and Lachlain. I also felt their characters were more developed. However, I enjoyed reading about the exploits of the Hie more than I cared about their relationship. My rating for No Rest for the Wicked:


The book I loved so much I read twice was the next book in the series, Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night. (Okay, I thought I only read a few chapters before setting it aside several months ago, so to prep for this review I started to skim the beginning in order to finish reading it, and realized after skimming all the way to the end that I actually had finished it originally—not sure what that says for the book.) In this book, we start with the Hie from the POV of Bowen the Lykae and Mariketa the witch. Being such a fan of the Hie, it was pretty cool to see some of the same events from another's perspective—particularly the dramatic conclusion of the contest. But back to our two lovebirds who, yes, are fated to be together. This time, neither of them wants to be with the other; in fact, they almost kill each other during the Hie. But you can't fight fate. This is the first book in the series where I genuinely liked both characters, and is the first book that made me consider finishing out the series. I wish we'd been able to see more of Mariketa's mythology after it developed, and perhaps she'll make appearances in future books. I really think she could carry a series of her own, or that her arc in this book could have been a series in and of itself. My rating for Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night:


I read the prequel novella, The Warlord Wants Forever, last. I didn't have high hopes for it, considering my opinion of the book that comes after it (Emma and Lachlain). But I was very pleasantly surprised!! The novella tells the story of Myst the Valkyrie and Wroth the vampire. Valkyries hate vampires, naturally. When Myst becomes Wroth's fated Bride, she devises the perfect torture for him, and leaves him to function in a state of constant torture for the next five years. I think I liked this novella so much because, for the first time, I thought, Here's a female who could actually make a choice about how she feels, instead of letting fate decide for her. Unfortunately, we get a story device that allows Wroth to have total control over Myst's actions, while he is at the same time isolating her from her friends and family, all for her own good—or so he rationalizes. As in the other three books I read, IAD confuses isolation and control with, uh, romance? Machismo? However, I enjoyed this story because I really liked the character of Myst, I liked that she retained control even when it seemed she had little control, and I get that sometimes giving up control is a huge turn-on. Choosing to give over control and having control taken from you against your will are two very different things, and I think this story differentiates the two. My rating for The Warlord Wants Forever:


This series is chock full of sexual tension, but don't worry. The books don't make you wait long for the money shot. The IAD series does a great job of getting its fated antagonists together early on while still building the sexual tension throughout each book. There are plenty of PWP (porn without plot) elements, yet still a strong sense of story and mythology. However, there are also strong themes of dubious consent and patterns of domestic violence (isolation, submit to your male) throughout the books that, while some readers find them erotic, could be triggers for other readers, make them uncomfortable, or just downright piss them off. I've only read the first three books plus the novella, so I'm curious to see if the rest of the books follow the same pattern and include the same themes. I have to say I'm rooting for the pseudo-feminist bent of the books to throw off its cloak and truly show the heroines in an independent light, equal to (nay, better than) the barbaric yet Byronesque, six-foot-five, chisel-faced, animalistic heroes of the books.

Update: While writing this review, I read Dark Desires After Dusk, the story of Cade the demon and Holly the Valkyrie. I liked this book very much, and was glad to see Cole contrive a situation that got Cade and Holly alone together for a significant length of time in a way that didn't involve Holly being forced into a situation against her will.

Okay, my fellow readers. Tell me all about it. Have you read the Immortals After Dark series? Am I completely off my rocker and reading too much into something that's just supposed to be fun? Or did you get the same messages I did? Does the series get better and better as it goes on? I'm dying to know if it keeps following the same formula or if it branches out into something new.

Comments

  1. Veronica this is pretty much how I feel about this series too, Cade and Garreth are my FAVORITES.. I adore them... and it definitely had a lot to do with how they didn't have the whole kidnap and angry verbal abuse thing going, I do think Cade, Nikolai (Was that his name?) Garreth and Cade's brother who's name I keep forgetting had interesting books story wise... the last three (?) books in the series have kinda killed it for me since the heroes are pretty fucking horrible to the women.... in a way I think is unforgivable... but still.. I'm in it till I get to Nix and Fury's story!

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