I will admit it, freely and openly: I love a good paranormal romance. But when it comes to paranormal, suspension of disbelief is vital. Many authors have tried, but not all have succeeded in coaxing me into the headspace necessary to fall into the story they create. In paranormal, another key is world-building; Kresley Cole accomplishes this flawlessly. Her Immortals After Dark series is one of the most engaging, tightly focused, thoroughly consistent paranormal series out there. This is not a small task. Keeping your world building consistent across a huge laundry list of books is exceptionally difficult; I can’t even imagine the flow chart Ms. Cole has for this series. Cole manages to introduce new characters, new situations and new drama without neglecting the core of the series.
With the fourteenth book in the series, Dark Skye, just published this month, I am as intrigued today as I was when I found this series so many years ago. And now is as good a time as any for readers who have not yet entered her incredible world to give it a read. To help out, I’ve out together an Immortals After Dark series primer:
The Warlord Wants Forever (Immortals After Dark #1) : There are two types of vampires, fully blooded vamps and turned humans. Nikolai Wroth (pay attention to that name, he has brothers) is a turned human vampire. Turned humans are weaker than full blooded vampires and don’t have a heartbeat until they find their true mate. Nikolai’s mate is Myst the Coveted, a crazy, fey, mythological creature. Capturing her and convincing her to be his takes years and almost drives poor Nikolai insane. Sometimes letting the one you love free and hoping she comes back to you, is worth the wait.
A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark #2): I actually read this book first, not knowing about the novella that kicked off the series. Before we go any farther, I have to admit, in the paranormal world, I am a were-girl, not a fang banger. What can I say? There is just something crazy sexy about the primal instinct of the werewolf…and My Guy would lean more towards were than vamp or demon on the paranormal scale. I have a type and I won’t deny it! In this series, the werewolves are of Scottish descent: Scottish Highlander werewolves with thick brogues when they get hot and bothered? That, my friends, is the trifecta of perfection in my book.
Lachlain MacRieve is the leader of the Lykae Clan. He’s been held prisoner in the most horrific way, by the vampire horde for years. Imagine his ire when he discovers his true mate is a tiny little vampire. Emmaline Troy is part vamp, part Valkyrie which means she’s total badass – she just needs to embrace her power. The powerful sexual tension between these two is explosive and once they get together, they are completely unstoppable.
No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark #3): Turned human, Sebastian Wroth has been alone for so long, he’s dangerously close to giving up. When the Valkyrie assassin, Kaderin the Cold Hearted appears on the scene, suddenly long dead Sebastian feels the need to be alive. Kaderin’s beloved sisters were killed by the vampire horde and she is hell bent on destroying any vampire that crosses her path. Sebastian and Kaderin enter into an infamous month long contest that leaves the winner with the ability to alter the past. Kaderin is desperate to win so she can bring her sisters back to life. Pesky lustful feelings threaten to expand into real feelings, and poor Kaderin quickly learns she’s not so cold hearted.
Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (Immortals After Dark #4): This book brings us our first full encounter with witches. Mariketa the Awaited, Mari for short, is a young witch who has been striped of her powers. She is forced to find shelter and protection with thorn in her side, Bowen MacRieve. Bowen was left a shell of a man when whom he thought was his true mate was taken from him. He’s not taken another woman to bed since…you can imagine the foul mood this guy is in. When Mari and Bowen team up to defeat the evil surrounding them, Mari discovers a fierce protector in Bowen and struggles with the idea of giving him her heart.
Dark Needs at Night’s Edge (Immortals After Dark #5): Conrad Wroth, the third Wroth brother is another turned human. Conrad is in such despair over his vampire status and all that it entails, he has gone completely mad. His brothers have locked him away in a mansion for his own safety, and for the safety of others. Neomi Laress was a famous ballerina in the early 1900s. She became a ghost the night she was murdered. She’s spent her time protecting her mansion by invisibly haunting and freaking out nosy trespassers. Imagine her surprise when crazy, tortured soul Conrad shows up. Poor Conrad already thinks he’s lost his mind, figuring out the phantom creature revving up his libido and causing his protective instinct to kick in might just send him over the edge.
Dark Desires After Dusk (Immortals After Dark #6): Cade Woede is a Rage Demon, and yes, that is just as scary as it sounds! Cade knows he has to right a terrible wrong. To do so, he must secure Holly Ashwin, a half human, half Valkyrie. Thrust into this crazy Lore world, Holly has to navigate a mind field of new challenges. Falling for this exceptionally beautiful man that scares the crap out of her wasn’t on her to do list. For Cade, realizing Holly is his true mate makes his already impossible situation, even more harrowing. Falling in love and facing the ultimate betrayal might be more than this couple can bear.
Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals After Dark #7): Rydstrom Woede, a Rage Demon is held captive by Sabine, Queen of Illusions, a Sorceri. Sabine’s attempts to seduce her captive but Rydstrom puts up a good fight. However, he is not unaffected by her wiles. Rydstrom is going to have Sabine but on his own terms, whether she likes it or not. Hey, she’s the one that started that sexual launch sequence. When these two ruthless and wily warriors team up, all hell breaks loose.
Deep Kiss of Winter (Immortals After Dark #8) Murdoch Wroth and Danii the Ice Fey-Valkyrie offer an interesting twist on difficult fated love stories. Murdoch is a turned human in search of his true mate so he can finally feel whole and have a heartbeat. Everything Danii touches or touches Danii turns to ice. Yep, that makes for a painful ending to insert tab B into slot A, no?!!? Talk about insurmountable differences. What’s a vampire in love to do? Well, pretty much anything to be with the woman he loves.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark #9): This one brings us back to my werewolves and Garreth Macrieve, the Prince of the Lykae. Hot damn I love Garreth. He has watched over Lucia the Huntress, a Valkyrie with an eagle eye shot of her arrow from afar for a while now. He wants her so bad but more than that lustful desire, he wants her safe.
Demon from the Dark (Immortals After Dark #10): Malkom Slaine is a tormented soul. Part Demon, part Vampire, he is forced to guard Carrow Graie, the prankster witch who has buried her sorrows so deep, partying is her only release. Malkom and Carrow end up trapped in a savage prison that threatens to end them both. Carrow will have to dig deep to keep that lovin’ feeling alive when Malkom is forced to unleash the powers of both his demon and vampire sides. The beast inside Malkom might be too much for party girl Carrow to compartmentalize.
Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11): At this point in the series, we are deeply entrenched in the prison the bad guys are using to hold immortals captive for brutal experiments that will help lead to their extinction. There is some crazy stuff going down in this prison and Declan Chase is leading the charge. In a past life Declan was Aidan the Fierce a Beserker. He was murdered before he was able to marry his true love Regin the Radiant but he continues to be reborn and crossing paths with Regin, only to die again before they can be together. In Dreams of a Dark Warrior, Declan takes Regin hostage in this prison with the hopes of ridding the world of immortals, a Lore he has no idea he belongs to. To save herself, Regin must expose Declan to memories of their fate and in doing so, she risks losing him again. Kresley Cole can really put her heroes and heroines in the most impossible situations!
Lothaire (Immortals After Dark #12): The Lore’s most ruthless and feared vampire. Torture and bloodlust have left Lothaire on the brink, until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, a mortal that sooths his soul. Lothaire is pure evil, the ultimate in anti-hero. When he discovers Ellie is his true mate, poor Lothaire is dealt a lethal blow to his conscience, a conscience he didn’t even knew he had! For the entire series we’ve watched Lothaire slink and slither in, instigate mayhem and disaster and escape into the darkness unscathed. That stops with Ellie and poor Lothaire doesn’t know what hit him. What’s that saying, “the love of a good woman…”? Lothaire will let us know if all souls, even the worst of souls, are redeemable.
MacRieve (Immortals After Dark #13): Back to my werewolves and the Hot and Hotter twins! Uilleam MacRieve, the more tortured of the Hot and Hotter twins has a past that will break your cold, dead heart. Sexually abused as a child, watching the bulk of his family die before his eyes, MacRieve is a broken shell of a man. Destroyed beyond repair. He harbors a hatred for Succubae that is fully warranted. Enter Chloe Todd, the daughter of the evil human behind the prisons that are trying to destroy the immortals. MacRieve knows immediately that Chloe is his true mate but her lineage troubles don’t end with her father. Chloe is part Succubae and that might be something MacRieve can’t get past. Sadly, MacRieve and Chloe can not survive without each other and the grueling road to discovery and love will gut you on every level. Honestly, this might be my favorite book in the series to date.
Dark Skye (Immortals After Dark #14): Lanthe, Queen of Persuassion (Sorceri) and Thronos a Vrekener is the fourteenth book in this series. Theirs is a story almost akin to Romeo and Juliet. Family war makes these two bitter enemies but the mark they’ve each left on the other’s soul can not be ignored.
I’ve neglected to mention my all time favorite character and the role she plays in each book because Nix deserves her own special note: Phoenix the Everknowing is the first and most powerful Valkyrie. She is a 3,000 years-old soothsayer who has more than earned her nickname, Nucking Futs Nix. Her visions of the past and future have driven her mad — but I think she’s crazy like a fox. Nix has had a hand in getting many of our lovers together and in doing so has forged a band of warriors far more powerful than the bad guys can handle. While we fans of Immortals After Dark are all clamoring for Nix’s story and we want her to find true love, I’m satisfied getting glimpses of her crazy throughout the series. (I fear once we get Nix’s story, the series will end and that will make for a heartsick Scandal.)
The final thing I really love about Cole and her Immortals After Dark series, other than the sheer awesomeness of her heroines and the mile-wide, Alpha male possessive streak her heroes have, is her ability to tease at future books. Many times, you’ll notice a secondary character doing something odd, or seeming a bit disheveled, only to discover the reason in the next book. It’s a writing style Cole has mastered and I look for it in every one of her IAD books. It’s yet another stroke of genius that keeps the series moving forward, and the reader on the edge of their seat.
I hope I’ve enticed you to pick up this series if you haven’t already. Immortals After Dark is my go-to recommendation when someone is looking to dip his or her toe into the paranormal waters.
Scandal reads all things romantic, erotic and paranormal…and Highlanders, never forget the Highlanders! Check out her thoughts on books and her weekly podcast on www.scandaliciousbookreviews.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ScandaliciousBookReviews), Twitter (@ScandaliciousBR) and Tumblr (http://scandaliciousbooks.tumblr.com).