Friday, December 28, 2012

Two books by Kresley Cole

I will likely devote a later post to the allure of romance novels but I wanted to talk about two of my recent reads by Kresley Cole.  I got led into the romance genre 2-3 years ago along the innocent path of Nancy Pearl's recommendation of Georgette Heyer.  Heyer is an unmitigated delight and thankfully she was an incredibly prolific writer but I did eventually run out of her superb regency romances so began nosing around for my next fix among the millions of romance novels out there.  I had no idea where to start and I found this to be dangerous as there are a LOT of truly appalling romance novels out there. 

Long story short, after some research, I landed upon Ms. Cole's Immortals After Dark (IAD) series which, admittedly, is about as far from Georgette Heyer as you can get.  They take place in modern day settings, they involve fantastical supernatural beings and hoo boy are they naughty.  We're talking serious amounts of explicit raunchy sex. Ms. Cole writes some of the Hottest, most carnal sex scenes I've encountered.   However there are some things they have in common with Heyer's novels 1) Cole's characters generally do things/make decisions that make some logical and emotional sense based on the world she has created (you would not believe how many romance novelists throw that shit right out the door in order to get their lovebirds into bed), 2)in a somewhat related point, the characters are also generally well-developed, likeable (or at least interesting/relateable), and consistent in their portrayal and 3) the books have a great sense of humor and whimsy - I've found that I cannot take a romance that takes itself too seriously. 

So onto the book review already.  I've read two of her books recently:

Kiss of the Demon King and Lothaire    

Before I launch into the reviews it's probably important to point out that I deviated from my normally strict practice of reading series' books in order.  While each book in the IAD series are, for the most part, stand alone, they are somewhat linked and probably most important there are appearances of other immortals in each book that give you a little more background and idea of the characters before they get their big chance to shine.  Basically, I knew or remembered little of Rydstrom Woede or Lothaire Dacian from the other books and this may affect how I view them.

Kiss of the Demon King
I hadn't picked up an IAD book in several months so dived into this one with relish... only to be so so disappointed.  The book focuses on the pairing between Rydstrom Woede, ousted king of the rage demons, and Sabine, a sorceress that has earned the moniker "Queen of Illusions".  She is sister to a crazed and evil sorcerer who usurped Rydstrom's throne mostly because the castle is built around some well of power that remains mysterious throughout.  She kidnaps and tries to seduce Rydstrom because she knows they are fated mates and she believes that having his child will help her overthrow her brother. Which she wants to do not because he's evil and crazed and leaves flayed bodies lying around court but because she's power hungry.  When the tables are turned and Rydstrom has her under his power he tortures her the same way she did him and blah blah blah... they fall in love anyway. 

So why did I leave disappointed? Mostly because the three things I mentioned above, that make me love Kresley Cole, that she shares with Heyer, were all missing from this book.  I found Rydstrom impossibly boring and Sabine was about as unlikeable a "heroine" you can get - I never warmed up to her. Furthermore, I  never felt the chemistry between these two and never felt that their attraction to one another was built on anything more  substantial then their status as fated mates.   The plot wavered somewhere between non-existent and incomprehensible - I never really understood the sorceri court and its intrigues well enough to really get why Sabine was the way she was.  Things seemed to happen out of nowhere with little proper lead up or explanation.  Various factions/creatures are attacking - why?  Not really sure and in the end Omort just wipes armies out with a snap of his fingers...ummm.. that was easy... and unexplained.  Lothaire betrays his covenent - why?  Who knows but it sure is a convenient plot device at that moment.  Why does Omort not like to see both sisters at the same time?  You got me.  Anyway, it all felt incredibly sloppy and thrown together in order to make a fairly weak plot jump forward in erratic starts. Finally, there is no foreplay to the sex play - we just jump right in.  There is little emotion involved which makes it exceedingly boring. 

I really thought this was a poorly crafted book with characters and emotions that never affected me.  I was dismayed to see that this won some kind of award and has an average 4.3 star rating out of 5 on goodreads.  So obviously other very different opinions are available:)


Lothaire Dacian is a  very old natural-born vampire and is also one of the biggest most evil bad asses of the Lore.  Ellie Peirce is a mortal human raised in a mundane world of poverty in Appalachia until she is possessed by Saroya, evil goddess of death.  Then she starts killing people left and right.  Either Ellie or Saroya is Lothaire's fated Bride and being an arrogant son of a cuss who hates humans, he of course assumes its Saroya and plots to drive Ellie out of her body and give Saroya an eternal host.  However, as is usual with such plots, things go awry.

I entered into this novel, fresh off reading Kiss of a Demon King so my expectations were muted.  Had Cole become tired of her series?  Was the sparkle gone?  While I can't really guess how Ms. Cole feels about her series I was so pleased to find that the shine had not worn off. 

Lothaire is an especially complicated "hero".  He truly does some horrific things throughout the book and his  attitudes are not easy to take.  However, we get enough background into Lothaire to understand, if not love him.  His arrogance is at the same time attractive and off-putting, and his sardonic sense of humor and his old fashion turn of phrase, the Russian accent and endearments, his Lothaire speak - all of these make him super duper interesting and hot. He certainly ain't boring.

Ellie is quite the opposite of Lothaire but Cole does a good job of emphasizing those things in her character that would be extremely attractive to Lothaire.  Despite all appearances, it makes sense that these two would be a good match.  She has a strong enough will and moral compass and is generally pretty unflappable which helps to balance and calm Lothaire's crazier and more homicidal tendencies.  She's the good solid, clever, country girl who keeps the rock star grounded - it works. 

The plot is pretty interesting and moves forward in an organic fashion.  Lothaire has to overcome his prejudices in order to accept Ellie as his Bride  - this takes the appropriate amount of time and the things that lead him there make sense.  A seemingly unbreakable barrier to  them being together is resolved in a logical and interesting twist.  There are a lot of clever little ties to the bigger story arc.  Basically its a well-plotted and crafted story with two intriguing main characters.  And the sex?  WOW.  

So really excited that my dislike for Kiss of a Demon King was a fluke.  Lothaire redeemed it all :0)!

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