Tag Archives: Immortals After Dark

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

HISTORICAL Romance

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre

CONTEMPORARY Romance

  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

Links to my reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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“He’s going to cut firewood? Aren’t they above the treeline?”

“He’s going to cut firewood? Aren’t they above the treeline?”

My thoughts when the RAGE DEMON went out to cut wood for the cabin he was sharing with a VALKYRIE because apparently the geographical inaccuracies regarding the flora in the Yukon are more important than the mythical fauna in a paranormal romance.

The Immortals After Dark Series: MacRieve by Kresley Cole

I read about 50% of MacRieve, but you’ll see why I’m counting the experience as a whole book, maybe two.  I think the judges will allow it. I read it to see what could be so bad on the “Kresley Cole Is Atrocious” scale that my friend said it was best left unread. The heroine, Chloe, thinks she is a human, but learns she is actually transforming into an immortal succubus whose sustenance comes from ejaculate. You read those words correctly and in the right order. Chloe is a succubus who feeds on ejaculate. Consumption is non-orifice specific. If the ejaculate comes from an unwilling male, she will sicken and die as it changes into “venom”.  She got very sick about two-thirds of the way through the book. It didn’t take me that long.

The werewolf hero, Uilliam, has childhood sexual abuse trauma associated with an exploitative succubus (which is apparently not a redundant statement), so he hates the entire species. Chloe is his fated mate, he is drawn to and disgusted by her simultaneously. He really freaks out whenever she takes his precious bodily fluids. She shows remarkable forbearance and forgiveness. There is a dissertation’s worth of repellent, sexist themes in this book: the ejaculate issue; the transition of a woman into a monster with sexual awakening; a woman sucking the life out of a man, a literal succubus; a man being sexually drawn to, but also reviling the object of his affections because a relationship will imprison him and take his power; forgiveness of male mistreatment because he can’t help it; the saintly, redemptive female; lessons in love that not all succubi (women) are the same, you just need to meet the right one; and so on. Revolting and misogynistic elements masquerading as a love story. How very repugnant, Ms. Cole.

The (Shameful) Tally and reviews for other books in the Immortals After Dark series: The Warlord Wants Forever; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve; Shadow’s Claim.

The Immortals After Dark Series: Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole

“I’m out. I just can’t with Kresley Cole for one more second,”  I said, and yet here I am with more Fangin’n’Bangin’™. I’m not proud. I am deeply and appropriately shamed by my conduct. Self- recriminations take place on the full and half hours. Rationalizations are on the fifteens and forty-fives. I always promise myself the current Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark paranormal romance will be my last, usually while reading it. It goes like this:

Why am I reading this? Trehan’s an assassin and he lives in a library. That’s pretty cool. I have a degree in English. Why am I reading this? Bettina is in her early twenties and Trehan is 900 years old. What could she possibly have to offer him? Which one is this? Shadow’s Claim. He’s wearing black leather pants. I do so love a good-looking man in black leather pants. I should re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God. Trehan lives in a secret vampire realm. Wait. There’s a third, hitherto secret, vampire group in Cole’s novels? There are the Hoarde, Forbearers, and now Dacians.  I bet the Dacians were an afterthought to extend the series. Kresley Cole is a paranormal romance savant. Bettina is a half-sorceress, half-demon, jewelry designer, princess, and heir to her realm, her powers have been stolen, plus she’s a virgin who can’t drive. I would kill for a good historical romance right now. Bettina has agreed to a tournament for her hand in marriage. One of her suitors is a pus demon. Is she having a panic attack? How many of these have I read? Did I just gasp? Cole is really good at the battle scenes. I don’t hate this nearly as much as I should. Bettina is guarded by a Sylph-phantom-thing that inhabits handy objects for want of corporeal form. Is Bettina a Disney princess? The Sylph is watching her bathe and talking about onanism. No on the Disney princess, check mark in the voyeurism column.There is something appealing about how devoted the heroes are. Is it over yet? I wonder if Caspion’s character will get his own book later. Ignore the jejune spelling. Trehan’s wearing a leather trench coat. I have a leather trench coat. Love scene THUNDER SEX™. Won’t all of the pop culture references work against the books over time? Wow, I am actually bored with the love scene THUNDER SEX™. Of course, Bettina’s a virgin. It’s like a 1970s romance novel up in this book.There’s the intense, powerful, older alpha male captivated by a naive, seemingly powerless, immature woman for no reason other than the urgings of his Id and the plot. There’s the Big Misunderstanding that can be cleared up with one simple conversation.  Kresley Cole is old school. Lothaire? I read part of that book. It was the same as this part of this book. Who are these people? Is this an epilogue?  Oh, it’s a preview. It’s over. Never again.

 

The (Shameful) Tally and reviews for other books in the Immortals After Dark series: The Warlord Wants Forever; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve; Shadow’s Claim.

 

Fangin’n’Bangin’™ – Dark Desires After Dusk & Kiss of a Demon King from Kresley Cole’s The Immortals After Dark Series

[clapping twice and pushing back from the Kindle]

I’m out. I just can’t with Kresley Cole for one more second. Thank you again to Malin and Alexis for the free books. Maybe even a thank you to Kresley Cole for some of the THUNDER SEX™, but my sojourn in paranormal romance is at an end. This is going to be a smush review. If you add up the portions of the Immortals After Dark series novels Dark Desires After Dusk andKiss of a Demon King that I actually got through, it equals more than one book, but less than two.

I’m not even going to bother with plot summaries. They’re always the same, only the kind of  immortal creatures changes. The beings in Desires After Dusk andKiss of a Demon King are brothers. One of them is a deposed King, the other is his heir. Deposed King’s mate is a sorceress. Brother Heir’s mate is a Ph.D. student and unbeknownst-to-herself Valkyrie halfling and mystical Vessel. I know.The brothers are rage demons with horns that straighten when stimulated and skin that flushes red, I think it was red, when strongly aroused. The demons doona “mate” like Cole’s absurd Scots-brogue-spouting werewolves; or get “blooded” by their “Bride” like her Estonian “I vant to suck your blud” vampires; they “attempt” their prospective mate. That means bang. They have to bang their prospective mate to confirm she is The One.  Said demon’s bite immobilizes his beloved during the final portions of the rather intense consummation. It’s a whole fangy-roofie-banging thing. Always with the fanging, biting, and banging in these books. “Fangin’n’Bangin’™”. There’s an apt sobriquet for paranormal romance…

IMMORTALS AFTER DARK:
COME FOR THE FANGIN’N’BANGIN’™, STAY FOR THE THUNDER SEX™!

What I Actually Enjoyed About This Series:

  • Kresley Cole has impressive organizational skills. These intersecting novels had to have been plotted out well in advance and have potential for an endless series. This is evidence of a keen marketing intellect. Kudos for that.
  • The writing style is consistently flip and breezy. It goes well with the general ridiculousness of the stories. The pop culture references in the midst of hand-to-hand combat can be a bit jarring, but overall it works.
  • I am not good at allowing people to take care of me, so I can appreciate the appeal of a great big, protective hero in one’s escapist literature. The dominance/submission aspects not so much.
  • In a reversal of the stereotypical man dragged to the altar, it is consistently the women who resist a long-term relationship. The hero’s reaction is always simply “MINE.” The heroine’s reaction is “Not so fast, caveman. I want to be sure you are worthy of me”.

My Qualms:

a. Each successive novel upped the ante on the scarring backstory. Cole started pretty high up on the trauma scale and the glimpses I’ve seen of later books tell me it manages to get worse. The phrase “blood slave” went by. [shudder]

b. The heroine/hero height differences are farcical and completely impractical. Each of the women is tiny. The men are all at least 6’6″ and the demons are almost 7′ tall.

c. The women in these books are powerful illusory beings, but they can also be pretty vapid. Sure, she’s an immortal who can gut you like a fish, but what woman doesn’t want a rich guy to take her shopping? Amiright, ladies?  The Valkyrie characters are particularly discomfiting, living life as an endless slumber party. They are catty, extremely acquisitive, and can be easily distracted by jewelry even during battle.

d. The immortals are frozen in age at the height of their power. For the men, this seems to be consistently in their mid-thirties. For the women, it’s twenty-five at the latest. If the men are meant to be uber-masculine, what does this say about their female counterparts? Best to change over while everything is still perky in a bikini, I guess. The women’s sexuality is also problematic. They are adults in full and healthy possession of their sexuality, but while they are active partners in the THUNDER SEX™, the narration always clarifies at some point that the women have had few partners because, hey, they’re not sluts. Heaven forfend, they should have THUNDER SEX™ notches on their bedpost. Even in a Fangin’n’Bangin’™ book, sexual empowerment is conditional.

e. There is a clear indication that the couples will be frozen in the wild sex honeymoon phase for all time. Is that necessarily a good thing? It all seems like an immature fantasy of a relationship: He’s big and strong and loves my ass, plus he buys me shiney things, and he’s a great lay. I’m the luckiest immortal in the world!

But who am I to judge, if that’s what someone wants when reading for escapist entertainment? It’s pure snobbery on my part. The main differences between this and the romance I normally read is the more primal nature of the character types and pair bond. If Fangin’n’Bangin’™ is what you enjoy, have at it. I’ll be over there in 19th century England with men whose horns are strictly metaphorical.

The (Shameful) Tally and reviews for other books in the series: The Warlord Wants Forever; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve; Shadow’s Claim.

The Immortals After Dark Series: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

Kresley Cole’s apparent thought process for the paranormal romance A Hunger Like No Other –

“You know what’s vile fun? Opening with an assault! A deranged man (werewolf) will sense a woman (vampire), decide she is his mate, chase and tackle her when she tries to flee, and then hold her against her will in a hotel room that he will slowly destroy. He will refer to her as “it” in his head and insult her for not being the mate he imagined. Although her abject terror is an inconvenience, and in spite of her offensive nature, he initiates a physical relationship. Alone and defenseless in a foreign country, she’ll find herself becoming aroused when he rips off her clothes and paws her. After insisting she share his bed, he can wake her up with a sexual assault. She will fight only because she is confused by her arousal. When she tries to escape, he’ll stop her. To encourage him to be gentle, she’ll threaten to harm herself. To make himself more attractive to her, he’ll use her credit cards to buy himself whatever he wants. When her family calls, she will lie, say she is fine, and then leave with him. [fanning self] That is so hot!”

Two things about this abduction and seduction plot, Ms. Cole:

a. FUCK
b. YOU.

It does get less rage-inducing from there, but since “there” is a revenge fantasy set up and the heroine never gets around to curb stomping the hero, the so-called improvement is the most “relative” ever of the “all things being” variety. The relationship remains abusive. He needs her. He just wants to be close to her. He’s in so much pain. He’s been through so much. He’d never hurt her, you know, except all those times he tries to manipulate or control her.

What happened to the silly, sexy fun? The popularity of Cole’s campy Immortals After Dark series is built on silly, sexy fun. More importantly, even with outdated gender stereotypes, the immortal heroines are badass powerhouses. Is this book intended to tap into a predilection that simply doesn’t work for me? Because this is a terrified 105 pound, 5’2″, young woman alone with an unhinged 250 pound, 6’6″ man putting his hands on her with coerced consent. This is that abusive-relationship-masquerading-as-a-love-story plot people complain about with Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, isn’t it? The heroine actually tells herself she doesn’t have Stockholm Syndrome, then admits she does, then denies it because she is getting something she wants out of the relationship. The American Psychological Association would like a word.

Once things got back to the usual ridiculousness one looks to the Immortals After Dark series for, the plot proceeded with Cole’s standard hijinks and violently intense THUNDER SEX™scenes, and, yes, because the hero is a werewolf, the THUNDER SEX™ is indeed doggy style, emphatically so.

I was so bent out of shape and offended by the opening chapters that I finished the book strictly for the sake of Cannonball Read honesty and to plot my spiteful review. The (Shameful) Tally suddenly feels a lot less ignominious.

Reviews for other books in the series: The Warlord Wants Forever ; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve; Shadow’s Claim.

THUNDER SEX™ Edition – Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark Series

Thank you to Alexis for giving me two of Kresley Cole’s paranormal romance books. I hope I can do justice to their supreme, but occasionally kind of delicious, silliness. In a genre of guilty pleasures, they are the guiltiest.

The Immortals After Dark books can be read as standalone novels, but the stories and characters overlap. In this “Lore” world, fairy tales are real, vampires are considered vulgar, and there is an escalating war between Things That Go Bump in the Night, plus everyone stays young forever and no one ever gets fat. The series has a fun but odd juxtaposition of quippy writing and immortal beings acting all mythical’n’shit. Additional novels are published with metronomic regularity, but this is the current series list (reviewed books are in bold): The Warlord Wants Forever ; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter ; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve, Shadow’s Claim.

Plot Summary (All): Boy mythical creature meets girl mythical creature. Sexual attraction supernova. Reluctance and/or hindrance. Comeheregoaway. Adventure. Comeheregoaway. Unite to resolve challenges. Comeheregoaway. THUNDER SEX™. THUNDER SEX™. Resolution. Marriage.

“What is THUNDER SEX™?”, you ask. Even with an embarrassingly high historical romance total, nothing had prepared me for the violently intense sex scenes in Kresley Cole’s books. Immortality imbues one with an orgasm tripwire. At the slightest contact, both participants are arching, gasping, pulsing, clenching, trembling, moaning, pumping, biting, sighing, throbbing, throwing his or her head back to roar at the ceiling, and d. ALL OF THE ABOVE. That, dear reader, is THUNDER SEX™.

Male Bumps in the Night: The men are all Alpha males. So far, every one is at least 6’6″ tall with black hair, an insanely muscular physique, preternatural strength, and intimidatingly height-proportionate wedding tackle. They are protective, steadfast, possessive, and besotted. The imprinting process ensures intense attraction and loyalty.

Female Bumps in the Night: The women are generally Alpha females, strong and intelligent, powerful, headstrong, and don’t take any guff. They quietly adore their mate’s ferocity. Physically they are all petite curvy allure. They are also frozen in youth and frankly young in their demeanor. The Valkyrie characters in particular seem trapped in an endless slumber party.

Kresley Cole’s writing style is distinctly flip and this what saves the books from utter ridiculousness. Well, it doesn’t exactly save them from it, but at least it feels like the author is in on the joke. These are the highest quality, most magnificent novelized Velveeta you will ever encounter, fun and completely disposable. No one is going to be writing a Master’s thesis on the gender roles in Immortals After Dark anytime soon, but if they were… I’ll save those for the next set of reviews. Malin has said she’ll to set me up with more books from the series.

If you’re the kind of person who wants to know the actual plotline of each book, they are summarized below.

No Rest for the Wicked (Vampire/Valkyrie)

The Wroth family consists of 4 brothers: Nikolai, Murdoch, Sebastian, and Conrad. In each book, Cole describes them as having an “Estonian” accent. I am convinced they sound like Dracula and are all “Ve vant to suck your blud.” The Wroths were fearsome warriors when mortal, so fearsome they impressed the Bump creatures even before they died. Nikolai and Murdoch were turned voluntarily, Sebastian and Conrad were not and are still pissed off three hundred years later. This book is Sebastian’s. In romance, being a Sebastian is a lot of pressure. There have been some pretty epic Sebastians. Classic Sebastians. Mr. Wroth is not one of those, although he is quite scholarly and gentlemanly.

Sebastian is “blooded” by a Valkyrie named Kaderin the Coldhearted. She’s a vengeance wielder with a predilection for killing vampires and as such not happy about her prospective mate. He does his best to win her over by competing with her in the Lore version of The Amazing Race (verbatim, people, that’s how it is described) called The Talisman Hie. In the process, there is fighting with sharks, traversing a lava flow, some quality time with a nest of basilisks, and, of course, THUNDER SEX™.

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (Werewolf/Witch)

If Sebastian Wroth is an Alpha male, Bowen MacRieve is an ALPHA male and, drum roll please, MY FIRST WEREWOLF. Oh sure, I’ve read some M/M shape-shifter novellas, but this is my first official lycanthrope [shiver of joy]. The story overlaps with the preceding one by starting out with The Talisman Hie, but veers off from there. It’s the kind of book that uses the word “magick” a lot.

Mariketa is a young witch still learning to manage her gifts. When the book opens, she is wearing a red cloak to disguise herself because, you see, she is Red Riding Hood and MacRieve is the Big Bad Wolf. Mariketa is destined to be the most powerful witch in the world once she stops blowing stuff up and crosses over to become an immortal. Bowen MacRieve is competing against her in the Talisman Hie because the grand prize is a key which can temporarily turn back time. Bowen lost his mate 180 years ago and is still bereft and very grumpy. He’s quite annoyed to discover his profound attraction to Mariketa. The book drags out the comeheregoaway, but was fun.

Cheesey Detail A: Bowen is Scottish and every time he says “do not”, Cole writes it as “doona”. Sublime.
Cheesey Detail B: Bowen has was it described as a “thumb claw”. Ew. Unless he is a classical guitarist, otherwise, EW!

Dark Needs at Night’s Edge (Vampire/Phantom)

Conrad is the Wroth brother who has partaken of human blood. In this world, that means he has slowly become insane by absorbing the memories of his victims. His brothers kidnap and incarcerate him in an abandoned manor hoping to tame his bloodlust. He’s large, strong, and miffed. The manor is  occupied by Neomi Laress, the ghost of a murdered prima ballerina. Conrad is the first person to be able to see and hear her in 80 years. Because they cannot touch, their preliminary interactions are kind of like ghostly Skype sex. When Neomi finds a way to assume corporeal form, THUNDER SEX™ and hijinks ensue.

Deep Kiss of Winter (Vampire/Valkyrie)

Murdoch Wroth vants to suck your blud and has a way with the ladies. He is blooded by Dany the Ice Maiden, a Valkyrie who is also literally an ice queen. In addition to the usual “I hate vampires” party line, Murdoch cannot touch Dany without hurting her due to their differences in body temperature. I know. There is actual dry humping. DRY. HUMPING. In a romance novel. When you write this many novels about fated mated being kept apart by [insert specious reasoning and/or convenient inter-species challenge here], you have to think of new and exciting ways to create distance, but it was dull and not exactly THUNDER SEX™-Y.