Every once in a while, you come across a book series that not just entertains but engages with its lively characters, credible universe building, and snappy dialogues which grab your attention and spark off your imagination.
The Immortals after Dark series by Kresley Cole surely showcases some of the best paranormal rom writing there is. I was wary of stories of werewolves, vampires, demons and witches before picking up the first book of this series, A Hunger Like No Other. Having watched one vampire movie too many, and skeptical of being bitten by what I call, the ‘para rom’ bug, I was totally and pleasantly blown away by her sheer talent in reinventing Lorekind and giving paranormal an alternative spin on the traditional vampire and werewolf tale.
Of course, Ms Cole has gone beyond that, to weave in other urban fantasy characters using the coven of Valkyries as the catalyst of many a wonderful work which followed. I may have lapsed in following up on the series, but I never forgot the characters Ms Cole created.
Recently, I had the immense pleasure of finishing up not just books 4 to 6, Dark Needs at Night’s Edge, Dark Desires After Dusk and Kiss Of A Demon King, but also the prequel written as a novella, The Warlord Wants Forever.
Let’s talk about Dark Needs at Night’s Edge first.
The product description on the back cover reads:
A RAVEN-HAIRED TEMPTRESS OF THE DARK…
Néomi Laress, a famous ballerina from a past century, became a phantom the night she was murdered. Imbued with otherworldly powers but invisible to the living, she haunts her beloved home, scaring away trespassers — until she encounters a ruthless immortal even more terrifying than Néomi herself.
A VAMPIRE WARRIOR CONSUMED BY MADNESS…
To prevent him from harming others, Conrad Wroth’s brothers imprison him in an abandoned manor. But there, a female only he can see seems determined to drive him further into madness. The exquisite creature torments him with desire, leaving his body racked with lust and his soul torn as he finds himself coveting her for his own.
HOW FAR WILL HE GO TO CLAIM HER?
Yet even if Conrad can win Néomi, evil still surrounds her. Once he returns to the brutality of his past to protect her, will he succumb to the dark needs seething inside him?
Now, I love the Valkyries, the witches and the Lykae to bits, but I wasn’t too thrilled by Dark Needs at Night’s Edge, at first. The pace was a little slow, understandably, as the protagonists get to spend a lot of time getting to know each other, and while their heart-to-heart talk and revelations of their innermost insecurities make for great background building, it got a little tedious. Fortunately, Ms Cole brought in some of the other women in this series, and things got a lot more interesting when first Mariketa, then Nix intervened, and granted Neomi physical form.
Conrad was eventually blooded and claimed her as Bride, but love’s path never did run smooth … his nemesis came after him, and in the ensuing battle, Neomi was killed … again. But all’s well that ends well, and the finale was every bit as exuberant as previous books.
IMB rating: 3.5
I was actually looking forward to reading the next two adventures of the Woede brothers. The next book, Dark Desires After Dusk , is kind of linked to Kiss Of A Demon King. A paranormal road-trip romance of sorts, Dark Desires sizzles with lots of romantic and sensual tension. Here’s the synopsis from the back cover:
A seductive beauty he can never have, yet can’t resist…
Cadeon Woede will stop at nothing to atone for the one wrong that will haunt him forever. But once he secures the key to his redemption, the halfling Holly Ashwin, Cade finds that the woman he thought he could use for his own ends and then forget haunts him as much as his past.
A tormented warrior she should fear, but can’t deny…
Raised as a human, Holly never knew that some frightening legends are real until she encounters a brutal demon who inexplicably guards her like a treasure. Thrust into a sensual new world of myth and power, with him as her protector, she begins to crave the demon’s wicked touch.
Surrender to dark desires…
Yet just when he earns Holly’s trust, will Cade be forced to betray the only woman who can sate his wildest needs — and claim his heart?
You can’t help liking the heroine, Valkyrie halfling Holly, as she undergoes a self- discovery and rite of passage on the quest forced on her by Cadeon, helped along by aunty Nixie. The pace of the story went from intriguing to thrilling in a matter of pages, and that first peek into what’s going to hit Rydstrom was simply priceless. I knew straight away, that I have to read his story.
Anyway, back to Cade and Holly, what kept their adventure engaging was the tongue-in-cheek humour that I’ve come to appreciate and the wonderful way that Ms Cole seamlessly weave in the involvement of the other familiar and much loved characters. It’s like getting reacquainted with all of Lorekind. In fact, in this book, the reader gets to learn a lot more about the world of Lorekind, through the educational tidbits that Cade throws out to Holly during their meandering journey to track down the “secret weapon” that will supposedly help Rystrom topple the evil sorcerer who has usurped the demon King’s throne.
The ending is just as satisfying and sort of segues into the next book, which is currently my favourite amongst the series.
IMB rating: 4.0
When two headstrong, powerful characters on opposing sides of a family feud, are set on a collision course for love, will love triumph over hate? Will pride and power be consumed by humility and total surrender of the heart? Forget Romeo and Juliet, or West Side Story, Kiss Of A Demon King isn’t your run-of-the-mill sweetie-pie romance, but it certainly brought me on a thrilling roller-coaster ride of emotions. Here’s why …
Sabine, Sorceress of Illusions: the evil beauty who surrenders her body, but not her heart.
Rydstrom Woede: the ruthless warrior who vows to keep her at all costs.
THEY WERE NEVER SUPPOSED TO WANT EACH OTHER THIS MUCH…
With each smoldering encounter, their shared hunger only increases. If they can defeat the sinister enemy that stands between them, will Sabine make the ultimate sacrifice for her demon? Or will the proud king lay down his crown and arms to save his sorceress?
Sabine’s soft streak underneath her bitchy, prickly behaviour wasn’t a great surprise. I knew she must have some decent human compassion left in her heart somewhere … simply from her evident devotion to her sister. All that taunting, baiting and struggle for control between Rydstrom and her could only lead to the most sexually charged confrontation and wrenching revelation, and the ending was utterly beautiful in the purity of love’s sacrifice, understanding and support. Now I’m left wondering how Ms Cole is going to top this story. She hasn’t failed to delight me, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next tale from her.
IMB rating: 5.0