Posted in: AztecLady Reviews
Tags:Immortals After Dark
I don’t know why this happens, but it seems I always discover (read: give in and get hooked) a couple of books *coughorfivecough* after almost everyone else online. Not really complaining here, mind, because that means I don’t have to wait months and months and months between books-at least not right after getting hooked.
It also means I get to share all my ‘new’ discoveries with you, oh my patient, long suffering readers. 😀
A Hunger Like No Other is the first full length novel of the Immortals After Dark series of paranormal romances, but I hear that the universe and many of its characters are introduced in a novella, “The Warlord Wants Forever” (part of the Playing Easy to Get anthology).
For the record, for readers such as me? This thing that several authors/publishers have going on, with short stories in an anthology as introduction to a series? Doesn’t much work.
Scratch that. It simply doesn’t work-I rarely read anthologies, and almost never when these are published in trade size. /peeve
Enough of that; on to the review.
The back cover blurb is surprisingly good (I do have that little hate/hate thing going on with blurbs), if a smidge misleading on a couple of points:
A mythic warrior who’ll stop at nothing to possess her…
After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he’s waited a millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.
A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy…
Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents-until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae-and their notorious dark desires-ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.
An all-consuming desire…
Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?
I like a lot of things about the novel, especially that it turned out to be one of those reads that just sucked me right in and didn’t let go until I was done turning the last page. Which reminds me (once again-will I ever learn?) never to grab a new book late at night-sleepless nights were easier on me a couple of decades ago.
The first line-which I quoted earlier on a readers’ board I belong to-is really really good: “Sometimes the fire that licks the skin from his bones dies down.” Tell me that doesn’t just grab you by the throat and won’t let you go. Go on, lie!
The fact that it is in the prologue doesn’t detract a bit from its impact, because the action in the first chapter comes just a week after it. Further, for those who may be a tad discommoded by the present tense in that line, the rest of the book is narrated in the usual third person, past tense.
I liked the intensity of Lachlain in the first few chapters-it makes sense. This guy has just spent, oh, the last 150 years being burned alive; he’s not going to be the most calm, cool headed and rational of people, now is he? And that would be even without the irksome little fact that his mate (physical, soul, whatever it is) happens to be a member of the species responsible for said torture.
I equally liked Emma’s reaction to him, because it was consistent with her inner dialogue. She has spent all her existence being afraid of pretty much everything under the sun… er, moon-obviously she’s going to be pretty terrified of a werewolf, particularly one that seems crazier than a loon, hates vampires, and is prone to attacks of rage. Oh, and he’s not sure whether he’ll kill her, by the way. I would say that if she weren’t afraid, she would have jumped straight into TSTL-land.
Their interactions, their reactions to each other, what they say and don’t say to each other… they were truly engaging-engrossing even. And Ms Cole certainly writes some compelling sexual tension and sex scenes, which fit the characters’ development as well as the plot.
And yet, as much as I enjoyed the novel, there are at least as many, if not more, things I did not like about it.
While I really did like the main characters, particularly Emma, and a few of the secondary characters-Lachlain’s best friend Bowe and Hartmann, his butler, for example; they are a bit sketchy yet-but all in all, good enough. Even the main villain, during a rather dramatic scene with Emma, became a person rather than a stereotype. But aside from those few bits and pieces of character development, it seemed that most of the secondary characters were there simply there to set up upcoming books.
As for the Valkyries? Most of them are caricatures-completely one dimensional. The screeches, the manic reactions… utterly flat. There is the leader, the killer, the clown, the crazy loopy clairvoyant, the slut. Which, considering what a prominent rôle they play regarding plot and how much of Emma’s characterization depends on them, bothered me a lot.
A Hunger Like No Other turned out to be too busy, too crowded by secondary characters that contributed little to nothing to the story, and of course, it does seem as if some of the existing dynamics are set up in the novella I haven’t read-note that I am not sure (haven’t read it, remember? (yes, I’m a tad peeved about that)) but that is the feeling I get from the novel.
Something else that really bothered me: Emma is seventy and change. Yes, she’s a virgin-and the reasons for that are actually well explained, convincing, and consistent with the very specific circumstances of a vampire living with Valkyries. The rub is, precisely, that this is a virgin that has lived all her life with Valkyries-who are neither retiring nor virginal, nor particularly monogamous-and has watched her share of skinflicks through the years (her words, by the way).
And despite all the above, when Lachlain talks plainly about orgasms, sex, etc. and asks her about her sex life, she is offended, upset, scandalized and mortified. Mind you, the scene where he offends her with his questions happens a couple of days after a rather heated session of heavy petting. Contradiction much?
My last issue is the way the mate concept is handled. Lachlain knows Emma is his mate, therefore he’ll keep her. Period. That’s it, not open for discussion. Excuse me? What about what Emma wants and/or needs? Ms Cole seems to acknowledge all the issues this version of the ‘one and only mate’ entails, but there is little doubt that Lachlain’s needs will trump Emma’s will.
But for all its flaws, this was a story that held me in thrall for hours, rooting for Emma and Lachlain, and wondering what would happen next. A Hunger Like No Other gets 8 out of 10, and I have become the latest victim of Ms Cole’s Immortals After Dark.