ORDER A COPY: Shadow’s Claim (Immortals After Dark: the Dacians)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publishing Date: November 27, 2012
Paperback: 496 Pages
Rating: 5 stars
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.
Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, has spent his life serving his people—striking in the night, quietly executing any threat to their realm. The coldly disciplined swordsman has never desired anything for himself—until he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore’s most fearsome villains.
Desperate to earn her guardians’ approval after a life-shattering mistake, young Bettina has no choice but to marry whichever suitor prevails—even though she’s lost her heart to another. Yet one lethal competitor, a mysterious cloaked swordsman, invades her dreams, tempting her with forbidden pleasure.
Even if Trehan can survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife, the true battle for Bettina’s heart is yet to come. And unleashing a millennium’s worth of savage need will either frighten his Bride away—or stoke Bettina’s own desires to a fever pitch.
Shadow Claim is the first book in a spinoff series of the very popular Immortal After Dark series which focuses on the Dacians and the Realm of Blood and Mist. Oddly though, in this first book Kresley Cole does not take us to the Realm of Blood and Mist, she takes us the Abaddon, the land of Death Demons, the Deathly Ones.
Prince Trehan Daciano, the Prince of Shadow, has followed the demon Caspion here. By law, otherlanders who come to Dacia can never leave. Thereby otherlanders cannot ever return with an army to take over their secret mountain lands. By leaving Dacia and returning to Abaddon, Caspion has sentenced himself to death at the hands of Trehan, the sword of the kingdom and the keeper of the law.
Once Trehan arrives in Abaddon and is awaiting his chance at his target, he is inexplicably drawn to a room in the castle spire. Vampires being a curious sort, Trehan goes to investigate what is drawing him about this room. There he finds the lovely Bettina Abaddon, half demon/half sorceri, and all drunk on demon brew. As Trehan approaches Bettina his heart begins to beat for the first time in almost 900 years. Bettina is his Bride. Now we know that a vampire becomes quite obsessed with his Bride and the very drunk Bettina and Trehan have quite the sensual tryst. Things are going very well until Trehan realizes Bettina thought he was Caspion come to bed her and save her from her fate.
The hand of the virginal Princess Bettina has been offered as the grand prize in a blood fight to the death, along with the crown of Abaddon. Bettina has long been in love with the handsome and charming Cas and hopes that he will agree to divest her of her virginity, thereby saving her the humiliation of being handed over as a prize. See as romantic as this gesture may seem, it is not just an attractive selection of studly demons who have entered the contest, most are homeless outcasts who have entered to win the crown and not the elfish looking Bettina. Her choices of suitors include an alligator shifter with scaly skin, Cerunnos (a snake like humanoid), an almost rabid lykae, and even a pus demon, and those are some of her better choices. She wants more than anything to spend her life with Cas.
As you can imagine, the very obsessive vampire does not like that his Bride is in love with another man and wants to give herself to him. Trehan has to choose between entering this contest and fighting to the death for right to have his Bride or returning to his home, for once he is seen by otherlanders he too is prohibited ever from returning to his secret home realm. As a trained killer and the enforcer of Dacia’s laws, Trehan has no doubt he will emerge the victor.
Trehan has learned one thing watching his cousin Lothaire and that is how to bargain to get what you want. As the contests begin, Trehan convinces Bettina to grant him a boon for each contestant he dispatches–lady’s choice. Bettina gives in to remove some of the more loathsome suitors. Trehan uses his boons to negotiate private time with Bettina so that he can seduce her heart from Cas. He had better work quickly since Cas too has entered the contest. If Trehan can’t win her heart before he has to kill Cas to win her hand, his Bride’s love might be lost to him forever.
This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year. In a story that bounces between bloody fights to the death, and sensual encounters between Trehan and Bettina as Trehan tries to seduce her heart, you will not be able to decide which parts of this story are more exciting.
Trehan is a great hero–strong, thoughtful, protective and sexy.
Bettina starts the story off nearly being beaten to death by Vrekeners (who hate the evil scorceri) and she has her powers stolen by them. So she is very fearful for an immortal. Although she is half demon, she has none of their strengths or natural defenses. Scorceri have no more strengths than a human besides their powers and their immortality. Other than their magic, their eyesight is no better, they have no real strength for fighting, no claws or sharp teeth or other natural defenses. So once Bettina loses her power, she is like a human in an immortals world and absolutely afraid that the Vrekeners will find her again and finish the job. This brings us to why Bettina would agree to be the prize in this battle to the death. Her demon godfather and her scorceri godmother have indicated that they will kill the Vrekeners and return her power once she is married to the winner of the battle. They also believe the strongest winning warrior will give Bettina a sense of security that he can protect her and thereby alleviate her fears.
If Shadow Claim is an example of how much further Kresley Cole can take her Immortal After Dark series, then I say spin away to your heart’s content. I cannot wait to see where she will take us next.
Received an ARC from the author. Thank you!
All she could think over and over: That vampire was in my bed, touching me as no other had before.
As he closed the distance, she felt increasingly weak and breathless, as if a flash-fever had taken hold.
How could merely looking at someone make her react physically? One word arose in her consciousness. Daliz. In Demonish, it meant lightning—in addition to another quaint, old-timey meaning.
“Who is that gorgeous male?” Morgana asked.
Bettina had never heard her sound so interested in a stranger.
The vampire wasn’t gorgeous to Bettina, but he was…striking.
“Oh, my gold, is he a Forbearer?” Morgana asked.
With his clear eyes, Daciano looked like one. No one would ever guess he was from the fabled Realm of Blood and Mist.
Once he neared the lower grandstand, Bettina subtly shook her head, warning him away, but he didn’t break his stride.
Earlier when Caspion had approached the sign-in table, the crowd had cheered for one of their own. As the vampire approached, everyone grew silent.
Crickets. A dog barked in the distance. A demon cub gave a cry.
“Your name?” Raum asked in puzzlement.
“I’m called the Prince of Shadow,” Daciano answered in that resonating voice.
“Where do you hail from? What is your standard?”
“I hail from nowhere you know.” The vampire retrieved a beautiful antique-looking banner of red and gray from his coat, handing it to Raum. “This is my standard. I enter for the hand of Bettina.”
He can’t lie? Then he’s not here just to kill Cas? He wants to marry me? She just stopped herself from fanning her face.
Why can’t I catch my breath?
Her godfather cast him a studying glance. Raum couldn’t bar the vampire entrance, but surely he would demand more information.
Instead Raum examined the standard, returned it, then offered Daciano the blade and quill. “Well then, Prince of Nowhere. Sign your name.”
Still holding her gaze, the vampire dragged the blade across his palm, never looking down at the contract, never taking his penetrating eyes off her.
Bettina could tell Morgana was glancing from the vampire to her and back, but didn’t acknowledge her godmother’s curiosity.
Once Daciano’s entry was complete, Raum announced, “The lists are filled! The tournament has officially begun.”
Cheering sounded from the spectators before Raum quieted them once more. “Now, on the first night of the tournament, we will have a melee, All competitors will go in unarmed, race to reach strategically placed weapons, then kill at will.”
“Oh, I’ve always enjoyed a spirited melee!” Morgana said, as if she were talking about a potato-sack race. Then she glanced past Bettina, her eyes gleaming with approval—no doubt ogling the vampire.
When Betting refused to look at him, Morgana tapped her chin with a metal claw. “You don’t appear to be an afterthought with that one, dearest freakling. You appear to be the only thought.
Bettina’s gaze darted to Daciano. His overall demeanor was bored. But she could see his cunning gaze taking in his enemies. She suspected she was about to witness the lethality she’d only sensed before.
Would he target Cas immediately?
Turning to Bettina, Morgana said, “I believe the Prince of Shadow is particularly motivated. He looks like his heart is in this. His beating heart.”