2nd Reread Completed 8/1-8/9/13
Looking back at how much I loved this book when I first read it, and how much I loved it on reread, I can say most definitely that this book is an all-time keeper. For me, this story is magic. I didn't have a lot of time to read it, but I actually didn't want to put it down when I couldn't read it. Finally, when I was able to dedicate some time to reading, I more or less read it straight through, except for when I was busy with my review books and Vacation Bible School. At the end of the night, I was excited to get into bed and curl up and revisit Lachlain and Emma's love story, reading late into the night.
Lachlain remains one of my fall time favorite paranormal heroes (and probably of all time). Although I refuse to pick a favorite Immortals After Dark hero, Lachlain makes some steep competition for the following heroes. He starts out a bully, but I can understand why. He literally was insane after being tortured for 150 years. However, it is a testament to his force of will that he didn't do worse to Emmaline, not to mention the power of their bond. Even though he wasn't super nice initially, his charisma was undeniable. As time passes and he realizes who Emma is and how she means to him, above and beyond being his fated mate, he shows just how adoring and capable of caring for his mate he can be. By the time Emma starts to love him, you can understand why. Cole makes you want a Lykae mate of your very own.
Sometimes the heroine doesn't click with me in a romance. But this is not one of those times. I loved Emma. I appreciated her journey of self-identity and coming into her own. She had that awkward feel of a woman on the cusp of maturity in her early twenties. Away from home for the first time, exploring who she is, and finding love. Considering the force of nature that Lachlain is, I think Emma held her own against him, and eventually, she had him eating out of her hand.
I think Kresley Cole writes the best steamy romance out there. Blazingly hot, but not crossing the line into raunchy and distasteful (overshare) language that turns 'sexy' into 'gross' for this reader. Even on the reread, I was excited to see what happened next, and fanning myself with the incredible tension and fire between Emma and Lachlain. I wasn't a huge fan of vampire romance prior to reading this (this being one of the first I read at the time), but the scenes in which Lachlain feeds Emma show how powerful that is between a mated pair, and it's sexy, and not gross like I always thought it would be. I'm not saying I want to take blood or give my blood like in the book, but it's written well and beliveable in the context of the story. It's a very intimate thing, and you could see how it furthers the connection between them.
On top of the fantastic romance, the world-building is complex and fascinating, and I love the camaraderie between the Valkyries and the other characters. You can see the Lore factions aligning before your eyes on the one way march to the Ascension. And though the developing romance is fascinating, it's also great to get glimpses into the past of the long-lived creatures of the Lore.
There's a reason why Kresley Cole is in my top five authors of all time. She knows how to bring it. In the paranormal and historical romance genres, she kicks butt and takes names. You want to keep coming back for more of this wonderful world she has created. I'm glad I was able to revisit this fantastic book and I am jazzed to continue my 2013 reread of the Immortals After Dark series.
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****Original Review Below*********
I bought this book because I had read "If You Dare," by this author and absolutely loved it. Well, lets just say, it made a steadfast fan of me. The Immortals After Dark is one of my all time favorite paranormal series, and part of the reason I'm so crazy about paranormals. Lachlain is kind of crazy, and who can blame him after being imprisoned horribly underground in a fiery pit, being drowned every day and consumed by fire for 150 years. One day he senses his mate, and he does something really painful and desperate to get free, to get to her. I was hooked.
Lachlain is what I call a Sexy, Scottish, Werewolf. What a great combination. His one shortcoming is that he is kind of snobby towards Emmaline at first. He's dismayed that this true mate (Lykae only get one) is a Vampire. Although she's really a halfling, half-vampire, half-valkyrie. Emmaline is as timid as you can get. She's been protected and coddled by her valkyrie aunts her whole young life. She's about 70 years old, which is very young for a vampire and a valkyrie. Despite her penchant for very sexy, expensive lingerie, she's an innocent virgin.
Imagine this crazed, beastly man tearing across a Paris courtyard, and dragging you off with him, and wanting to do things with you of a sexual nature? Very scary thought. This is how this book begins. Cole grabbed me as a reader and didn't let go. I wanted to find out how Lachlain would deal with the fact that his mate was not exactly what he wanted. Would he force her? Would she grow to love him and trust him? They go on a journey to get back to Lachlain's ancestral holdings in Scotland. He is the king of the Lycae and must go back to take his place as ruler of his people. Even though he isn't really happy with the mate that was chosen for him by fate, he's taking her with him. Lochlain has to get used to modern life. He finds he has expensive tastes, and charges up poor Emmaline's platinum card. He really makes the poor girl miserable. But she does manage to fall in love with him. She's not so sure about this Queen of the Lykae deal and having such a dominant mate, though. So it takes some serious wooing, Lykae-style, on Lachlain's part. And Lachlain discovers that having a vampire bride is a great thing, because being bitten by her is ecstasy. Plus, Emmaline is a sweet, loving woman who eases her way into his heart.
This was a fabulous book. I was already werewolf-inclined after reading the MaryJanice Davidson story "Love's Prisoner", Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, and Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon, so it really got my attention. This is a spicy read with very hot love scenes, that don't overshadow the growing love between Lachlain and Emmaline. I enjoyed the whole dynamic of reluctant mates, and the crazy, alpha werewolf hero really appealed to me. I loved how Lachlain's feelings towards his bride changed so that he came to adore her and appreciate her. She became his life. I also loved how timid Emmaline comes into her own. She was drifting because she knew neither of her parents. She was afraid and disliked her vampire nature, and had to come to terms with who she is. She becomes quite the warrior queen. Ah, this is a classic for me. It comes highly recommended.
Just a warning to readers. The first book in this series is the story in Playing Easy to Get, "The Warlord Wants Forever." I read this one first and I was scratching my head trying to figure out who Nikolai and Myst were. You can read this first, but you might be a little lost when they bring up Nikolai and Myst as a forgone conclusion.