Dark Skye – Immortals After Dark #15 – Kresley Cole

I don’t know which character I liked more in this book, Melanthe or Thronos. They were so different from each other but each was just as flawed…and I like flawed characters. I get sick of reading about heroic and ethical males and perfect virginal females who always want to do the right thing. Why do authors do that?

Melanthe is carefree hedonist while Thronos is a stickler for rules and order. While Melanthe enjoys wine, micro-minis and gold, Thronos believes in never imbibing, covering all body parts and living humbly. Okay, I think I like the Sorceri ways better than the Vrekener’s because the Vrekeners are way too extreme like Puritans but the Sorceri do get a little carried away with their fun and games.

Sorceri and Vrekeners are natural enemies. Vrekeners hunt and kill Sorceri who they think are evil and break the rules. There are a lot of evil Sorceri. They use their scythe-like weapons to drain the Sorceri of their powers and then kill them and take their children to their hidden Skye Territories to foster them.

Lanthe and Thronos met when Lanthe was nine and Thronos just a few years older in a field near her home. Lanthe’s parents were too busy doing sorcery and adoring their gold to pay attention to Lanthe or her older sister, Sabine, to notice that she had befriended a Vrekener. They were so neglectful that they forgot to provide food or clothing for their children so Lanthe had to go into the field below to eat dandelions and find berries. That is what she was doing when Thronos flew over.

Thronos instantly knew that Lanthe was his fated mate and they became best friends, albeit secret friends. He would take her flying with him and he taught her how to swim. They had a great time for four months…until tragedy struck.

One night, Sabine woke Lanthe and told her Vrekeners were in their home. They went to her parent’s room to warn them but it was too late. They had been beheaded by Throno’s father, the leader of the Vrekeners. Sabine used her sorcery power, weaving an illusion for the Vrekener’s worst nightmare. Sabine could read minds so she knew exactly what they feared. The leader fell to his knees and started scratching at his eyes. Sabine grabbed his scythe and chopped his head off along with a few others. Another Vrekener grabbed Sabine from behind and slit her throat. Thronos was in the room too and because Lanthe thought he had betrayed her by telling his father about them, she told him to jump from the window and not use his wings to save himself. Lanthe’s power was the power of persuasion. She could command anyone to do anything and they had to do it. She commanded her sister to live and she did even though she had lost too much blood. Lanthe and Sabine ran and never looked back.

Thronos had not been locked into his immortality yet so he was crippled for life. They said he wouldn’t walk or fly again but he did.

For 500 years, he pursued Lanthe to make her his mate but she always got away. She went on with her life, living it to the fullest which made him bitter…especially when she slept with other men. He couldn’t understand why she ran from him but accepted other lovers.

What Thronos didn’t know was that Lanthe and Sabine were being pursued by a wayward faction of Vrekeners out to kill them and any other Sorceri. In fact, a few times, they had killed Sabine but Lanthe commanded her to come back to life and she did. Once, one had dropped Sabine from the sky so Lanthe had to scoop up her brains and other time Sabine drowned after being thrown into a raging river. Lanthe believed Thronos had sent them after her.

In this book, Thronos abducts Lanthe while they are both escaping a mortal facility that imprisoned immortals and tortured them. As you can guess, he was a little bitter. He was able to overpower her because she still had the torque around her neck that kept her powers in check while his torque had been unlocked. Immortals are usually unable to hurt their mates without feeling pain themselves, if not physically then mentally. In many species, if one dies, the other follows soon afterwards. But Thronos wanted revenge for all the years he suffered while he thought Lanthe was living it up without him.

We know from previous books that Lanthe’s life was not always so wonderful.What Thronos and others saw was not the exact truth of things although Lanthe and Sabine liked for people to believe it to keep up their kickass reputations. In the Lore, any weakness will be used against you so keeping up appearances of being strong is key to staying alive. Thronos saw Lanthe and Sabine living in her brother Omort’s evil court, doing evil things and enjoying it all. They left and did evil deeds for Omort and returned to him. What was really happening was that Omort had total control of them. He made them drink a poison which would kill them if they didn’t return to get the antidote. But Lanthe did subscribe to the notion about living to the fullest degree and finding happiness where you could while you had the chance instead of wallowing in self-pity so she did find pleasure where she could and did have lovers. After all, Sorceri don’t have fated mates.

Thronos was not kind to Lanthe during their journey. He called her “harlot” and berated her for how he thought she lived her life with all her sins or what he called “offendments”. She just laughed at his stuffy ways and did not feel shame at all. She let him believe what he wanted about her. I laughed so hard at one part in the book where she told him he should have written to her instead of stalking her. He tells her, “What should I have written? Dear Harlot, rumor has it that you are very happy with your new life in Rothkalina with your beloved brother Omort. I hear that you have all the gold you could ever want, and I know how much you always enjoyed a good blood orgy. Well done, Melanthe! By the way, would you like to meet for a rational discussion about our future?”

Instead of denying it, she said, “Well, I did have a lot of gold.”

Do not strangle her!

This was an excellent book, filled with adventure and sexually frustrated characters. I related to these characters so much and wanted them to end up together even though odds were way against them.

This book didn’t have a lot of background plots going on except showing a little about what was going on with Nix, the soothsayer who seems to be manipulating all of the events in this series but I can’t say anything here lest it ruin the book.

After the epilogue of the last book, I thought this book would have been about Munro, a Lykae and twin brother to the protagonist of the previous book but instead, Kresley Cole skipped to Lanthe and Throno’s story. That epilogue indicated that the there is a greater threat coming to the Lore than just the war between the Vertas and the Pravus. Vertas being the good guys and Pravus being the evil guys.

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

Kiss of a Demon King – Immortals After Dark #8 – Kresley Cole

I am re-reading this series and it is just as exciting this time as it was when I first read it but now I know to pay attention to certain things that I didn’t realize were important to the storyline the first time around. This series is about the Lore which is exactly what it sounds like, a bunch of creatures from folklore and myth like Valkyries, Vampires, Lykae, Nymphs and Demons. It is an ongoing story but each book can be read as a stand-alone even though I think a lot of the story would be lost on someone who just picked up a book from the middle of this series.

This book followed Rydstrom and Sabine.

Rydstrom is a Rage Demon who lost his kingdom to an evil Sorcerer named Omort the Deathless. He has been trying to get his kingdom back for hundreds of years and he may have found a way. Omort’s brother, Groot the Metallurgist, has made a sword that will kill Omort but is demanding the Vessel in trade. The Vessel is a female from the Lore who will have a child who will either be good or evil. There is a Vessel in every Accession which is a war that happens about every 500 years in the Lore. Not all Vessels make it to have a child because factions of the Lore will be vying for her either to breed with her or kill her. But that story played out in the last book. Rydstrom’s brother was sent to Groot’s stronghold with the Vessel who happened to be his fated female.

In the last book, Rydstrom was racing to meet his brother, Cadeon, to make sure he would he actually traded the Vessel to Groot who happens to be just as evil as Omort but Rydstrom wants his crown back. We know he gets imprisoned by Sabine, the Queen of Illusions who happens to be another sibling of Omort and working with him. We, the readers, just didn’t get all the details from the last book.

This book starts out telling the story of Sabine and her sister Melanthe or Lanthe when they were little. Their mother and father were Sorceri who worked evil magick according to some beings called Vrekeners, winged beings who police the Sorceri and execute them if they are doing evil. Apparently, Sabine and Lanthe’s parents were evil because one night, the Vrekeners came and killed their parents and were going to either take the girls or kill them. Sabine took a sword and cut one of their heads off. Lanthe, who had the power to command people, told them to fight each other and to a boy Vrekener who was with them, she told to jump out of the tower window without using his wings to save himself. They escaped but for thousands of years, the Vrekeners have been after them. The boy lived and has spent his life trying to capture them.

Omort offered a safe haven for them. For some reason, the Vrekeners cannot follow them into Rothkalina, the realm that used to be Rydstrom’s kingdom but is now ruled by Omort, but Omort has an unnatural attraction to Sabine and wants her for himself. The only reason he hasn’t forced himself on her is because of a prophecy that says Sabine is Rydstrom’s fated mate. Her child will open the secrets of the the Well of Souls which is in the castle.

Sabine captures Rydstrom and tries to seduce him into vow to marry her because that is the only way her child would be recognized as the heir to Rothkalina but Rydstrom is having none of it. Well, that isn’t entirely true. He is attracted to her and his body knows she is his fated mate but his heart and his mind think she is evil.

Rydstrom is known for always being honest and it is said that a lie has never left his lips so when he finally vows to her in Demonish, which she does not speak or understand, that he will get revenge on her, she believes that he vowed to marry her.

Sabine was so selfish and into herself but I couldn’t help but like her. I could tell by the way that she loved her sister and was loyal to her that she had to have some kind of redeemable quality.

Rydstrom was your typical holier than thou hero whose only goal was to get him kingdom back which I thought was pretty selfish because he expected his brother to give up his female so Rydstrom could be happy.

What I like most about these books is the ongoing storyline and all the background stories that are going on at the same time. There are characters who I want to get to know better like Lothaire the Enemy of Old, a vampire who seems to be evil but helps the good guys once in a while…for a price…to serve some hidden agenda. He’s up to something.  Then there are the twin Lykae who keep showing up, Munro and Uilleam aka hot and hotter. And, of course, there is Nix the Ever Knowing, the soothsayer who seems to be manipulating everything from behind the scenes. They call her Nucking Futs Nix because she is barely lucid most of the time because she has so much going on in her mind.

I love this series. The characters are far from perfect which makes them that much more lovable to me and the storyline is just getting more complex and more interesting. This is one of those series that I’ll never get enough of.

I’ve already started reading the next book.

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.