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.”
ORDER A COPY: Lothaire
Publishing Date: January 10, 2012
Paperback: 468 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.
A DEADLY FORCE DWELLS WITHIN HER
Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.
CENTURIES OF COLD INDIFFERENCE SHATTERED
Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?
Elizabeth Peirce is living a quiet life in the Appalachian mountains until her body is hijacked by the soul of the vampire goddess Saroya. Whenever Ellie has a blackout, that means Saroya has gone on a killing spree. Ellie ends up on death row for those murders, until she is rescued by a red-eyed vampire.
Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, cannot have a lowly mortal bride. He needs to get back the Ring of Sums in order to remove the soul of Elizabeth Peirce and make the goddess Saroya immortal in Ellie’s body. Then he will finally be ready to claim the throne of the vampire horde army.
Ellie is not ready to let go of her life so easily and give Saroya and Lothaire a HEA with her body. If she needs to seduce the gorgeous, but deadly, vampire, then so be it. She’ll show him that life with a down-to-earth, mortal mountain girl can be more exciting than ten millennium old vampire goddess.
Will Lothaire sacrifice Elizabeth to reach his Endgame or will he decide there are more interesting things to life than being a vampire king?
If you are a fan Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, you will agree that this is an awesome addition to the series. If you not a fan, why not??
Although Lothaire isn’t my normal idea of a great hero, you have to admit he is an interesting character. We have seen bits and pieces of Lothaire throughout the past 11 books in the series and watched him collect his blood debts from the other immortals in an attempt to reach his Endgame. So it is very exciting to finally see what the Endgame that all those 11 books were leading up to.
Elizabeth Peirce is an interesting choice for Lothaire’s Bride, but her quick wit and cunning mind makes her perfect for him. She is as nice as he is evil but they heat up the pages together and she balances him nicely.
We get to see a little more insight into Lothaire’s relationship with Nix, the Ever Knowing, Valkyrie soothsayer extraordinaire, and we get to meet some interesting new characters.
I was a little leery of the two souls in one body storyline, and jumping back and forth in the story, but that quieted down soon and we got to spend much of the story with Ellie and Lothaire. There is no surprise to anyone familiar with the series that he won’t end up with the goddess since we see quickly how Ellie is the better match. Since she is the only person in a millennium to stand up to Lothaire, it is funny that he is like a kid at Christmas at certain points waiting to hear what she’ll say next. It is a great story and many open story lines from prior books get settled throughout Lothaire’s story.
I am still crossing my fingers that the next story will be Lanthe and Thronos, please, please, please…!!!!! But I definitely enjoyed Lothaire’s story much more than I thought I would. Lothaire being Lothaire, and the Enemy of Old, and all that, it is nice that he can find his true love, but that doesn’t necessary mean that he ends up joining the our good guys and going soft (Example, Eric from True Blood going all needy and clingy and ruining his hot, aloof, bad-ass vampire vibe.) Lothaire is still the scariest, bad-ass in town!!
Great story!! Definitely put on your must read list for 2012!! If you haven’t tried a Kresley Cole IAD book, now’s the time.
Just for fun – Check out my guest blog over at Heroes & Heartbreakers:
“Imagine my abject disappointment in you, female. Lothaire the Enemy of Old—the most feared vampire alive, the son of one king and the grandson of another—paired with a mortal? Much less a mortal of no distinction. I’m given to understand that your people are worse than peasants.”
Instead of indignation, curiosity lit her face. “Wait. I came first? You didn’t find me because of her? Hey, are you saying you’re a prince?”
“Yes, peasants,” he repeated slowly. “The lowliest of the low among humans.” Then he enunciated, “Exceedingly backward and vulgar hillbillies.”
“Been called worse, mister.” At his raised brows, she exhaled impatiently. “Bootlegger, moonshiner, Elly May Clampett, mountain mama, redneck, backwoods Bessie, hick, trailer trash, yokel, and, more recently, death-row con.”
“No references to mining? I’m disappointed.”
Sadness flashed in her expressive eyes. “My father died in a mine collapse. Ever since then, none of my kin will work underground.”
“Naturally the big bad coal company was at fault?”
“I’m sure there are nice, safe coal companies out there; Va-Co isn’t one of them. Mining’s over for us.”
“And so you remain appallingly poor.”
“S’pose so. The bottom line is that insults only hurt when they come from someone I respect.”
“Then no one’s taught you to respect your betters?”
“You think you’re better than me because you’re a prince?” Had she sounded disbelieving?
“I’m a displaced king of two vampire factions. Now I work to reclaim my thrones.” Why am I telling her this? He didn’t give a damn if she respected him. “As for the other, I think I’m better than you because you are demonstrably my inferior in every way. Intelligence, wealth, looks, bloodline, should I continue?”
She waved that away. “How’d you find me? You’re obviously rich—oh, and royalty—why would you be in one of the poorest areas in America?”