Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night – Immortals After Dark #4 – Kresley Cole

Bowen MacRieve was briefly introduced in the second book of the series, A Hunger Like No Other. We, the readers, learned that he was the cousin of Lachlain MacRieve, the king of the Lykae. He lost his mate over a century ago when she ran from him on the full moon and she died. In the last book, No Rest for the Wicked, he was one of the competitors in the Hie, a contest for immortals similar to the Amazing Race but more brutal and bloody. Bowen was ruthless in the game but I found myself feeling bad for him at times because I knew that he was fighting to get the one thing that could bring his mate, Mariah, back but some of the things that happened to him were his own fault for being so ruthless.

This book begins in one of his first competitions of the Hie. A lot of the books in this series run concurrent with the other books. We get a lot more details on what happened to Bowen because he is the protagonist in this book. Bowen chose to go for the prize of a Mayan headdress in the Guatemalan Jungle which would get him a fair amount of points in the contest He was in a giant tomb or temple along with a few other creatures from the Lore. He ended up behind the witch, Mariketa the Awaited. Bowen absolutely hates witches because an evil witch had played a horrible trick on his father. His father had wished that he could be the strongest of his brothers. She killed them all which made him the strongest. For this reason and more, he does not trust witches at all.

He and Mariketa are in the lead to get the headdress but come across a small tunnel where they must crawl through to get to the prize. Mariketa wears a red cloak to hide herself from the world. She also uses a glamour over herself to disguise her appearance because of a prophesy that foretells of a creature locking her away because he believes she is his mate. Of course, she and a handful of others know this is why she wears the cloak. Bowen has to crawl behind her and gets frustrated because the cloak is slowing her down so he reaches beneath her body and cuts off the cloak. Then he tells her there is a scorpion in her hair and tosses it in front of her which freaks her out so she backs up against him which makes him get aroused.

They end up in a room at the end of the tunnel and they make out. This pisses Bowen off because he thinks she has enchanted him. It is the only thing that makes sense to him since he has always been true to his mate and he is in this contest for the prize, Thrane’s Key, which will allow him to go back in time and save his mate from dying. Bowen snatches up the talisman and puts it up to his heart. It disappears and goes to the Riora, the goddess who is sponsoring the Hie. He then races to get out of the tomb. Mariketa isn’t too far behind but he reaches the portcullis first and closes it, sealing her and the other competitors into the tomb. Before Bowen closes the portcullis all the way, Mariketa threw a curse at him that would make it impossible for him to regenerate without coming back and getting her so she could reverse the spell.

What Bowen doesn’t know is that Mariketa has not yet frozen into her immortality. She is in transition but she is mortal. He saw the other competitors before he sealed them in and believes they will all be able to get out sooner than later but he will still have a head start to get to the next event. He did not know that Rydstrom and Cade, the two Rage Demons no longer had their ability to teleport due to some punishment for something they did long ago. He figured they would get everyone out of the tomb.

Mariketa is stuck in the tomb with Rydstrom and Cade who are brothers and three elves. They ask her why she can’t just use her magick to open the door and she tells them the truth. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred times when she uses her magick, she blows things up and that is when her magick works at all. If she tries to use her magick, the whole tomb might explode. The spell she used on Bowen was a simple spell that even a baby witch could accomplish. One of the elves starts reading the markings over the portcullis where they notice ominous looking scratches dug deep into the rock. It says that this tomb has been the prison of some evil ancient incubi for 11,000 years. And the incubi are still there.

The incubi, who used to be beautiful, are now hideous creatures with rotting skin. They fly over the competitors and aim right for Mariketa. The others try to fight them off but one of the incubi grabbed Mariketa by the ankle and flew up to their nest a hundred feet above, knocking her head against the side of the tomb as they went. Mariketa is scared to death of heights so when the others tell her to jump down and they will catch her, she just can’t bring herself to do it. She spends the next two weeks in the nest of the incubi where they forced her to drink their blood and eat things she couldn’t identify. She becomes weak and can barely function to stay alive.

Meanwhile, Bowen goes on in the competition. He gets minor injuries that won’t heal and realizes that Mariketa’s curse worked. He goes up against Kaderin the Coldhearted and ends up landing on a mine which blew off one of his eyes and part of his forehead. A rusted piece of metal went through his ribcage and he won’t heal but he keeps on with the competition. He ends up in the final against Sebastian Wroth. Sebastian’s Bride had just died in the fiery pit below so he needed the prize as bad as Bowen but the only way to get to the tunnel where the final prize lay, was to have Sebastian trace him there. Sebastian’s arm was stuck under a boulder so Bowen agreed to lift the boulder if Sebastian would trace him to the tunnel. Sebastian traced him but grabbed the prize first. Bowen used his whip to stop try to get the prize from Sebastian but Sebastian cut off Bowen’s hand and traced away, effectively winning the contest and stranding Bowen for two weeks. This all happened in the last book so I’m not giving anything away.

When Bowen is rescued, he learns from Nix, the Valkyrie soothsayer, that a lot of people want his head for stranding Mariketa, the Rage Demons and the elves in a tomb where only Bowen knows the location. Riora knows it but she won’t be heard from for another 250 years when she hosts the next Hie. Nix tells him that Mariketa is not doing well because she is mortal and has been without food and water for three weeks.

One of the reasons Bowen entered the Hie was because Nix told him that through the Hie, he would have his mate. He asks her why he didn’t get his mate. She tells him he will. She also tells him that he was ensorcelled and that Mariketa would remove that from him. He believes she is talking about the curse Mariketa put on him and the spell that she enchanted him with to believe that she is his mate. She tells him that he has until the full moon to retrieve Mariketa and have her call to tell her coven that she is okay or the factions will go to war and take his head.

Bowen barely gets to the tomb in time to save Mariketa. She’s barely breathing when he gets to her but when she hears his voice, she gets some sort of adrenaline rush to try to kill him. She floats up and pushes him against the outside of the tomb and would have killed him if Rydstrom wouldn’t have interfered. She does, however, annihilate the tomb, killing the incubi inside. Then she loses consciousness again. They all run uphill when trees and rocks start sliding towards the tomb. The tomb held so much power that it created a vacuum when it blew up, sucking everything into the void.

This is where they start a long journey to get out of the jungle. They must avoid the two warring groups of guerilla soldiers in the area and try to get Mariketa to safety.

Mariketa takes the curse from Bowen and he heals immediately. But he still wants her to lift the enchantment spell that makes him believe she is his mate but Mariketa doesn’t believe she enchanted him. She can’t say for sure because her magick is wonky but she is pretty sure she did not enchant him.

Rydstrom asks Bowen if he’s sure that Mariketa isn’t his mate, maybe she has been reincarnated. Bowen takes this into consideration. He strikes up a bargain with Mariketa that in exchange for his protection and the comforts he can offer, (he had gone back to her wrecked vehicle and got her suitcase full of clean clothes and toiletries) she would allow him to treat her as he would his mate. She agreed as long as there was no sex. Oh, and she couldn’t use magick.

There were so many things that seemed off about certain things happening to Bowen and to Mariketa that they just seemed to ignore or not get like when Mariketa saw a reflection in a pool that handed her an apple and told her to take a bite. Then it told her that she is the Queen of Reflections and could use mirrors to help her with her magick. I kept thinking that something was up with this especially since she seemed to have a little addiction to using her compact mirror. Then there was Bowen’s mate, Mariah. Bowen’s memories of her are of a spoiled Fey princess who didn’t like that he was a Lykae or his personality. It struck me as odd and I kept wondering if a witch had made him think Mariah was his mate or maybe that Mariah was a witch.

I wanted to shake Bowen half the time for how stubborn he was but I liked him at the same time. I loved Mariketa. She made me laugh quite a few times.

Nix confirmed that the Accession has begun. The Accession occurs every five hundred to six hundred years in the Lore. It is a war between factions where allies will be chosen and enemies will rise up to fight for power. Power of what? I have no clue except for to be on top of the food chain in the Lore.

I’m off to read the next book in the series.

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