Rating (out of 5): 3 stars
Emma is half-vampire, half Valkyrie. Raised by the powerful warrior women, she was taught to hate vampires and only drink blood out of a glass. At 70, she’s very young for a vampire, and finally decides to search out her father. Her mother and father had lived in Paris, and so she starts there.
Lachlain has been imprisioned for 150 years. The vicious vampires captured him and have tortured him in the catacombs below Paris. Fire burns him alive, only for him to regenerate. Though he’d attempted before, escape appeared impossible. That was until he scented his mate — the one woman he is meant to live for, who could save him — walking the streets above. After searching for her for hundreds of years, he manages to break free to seek her out.
Unfortunately, the woman he finds is a vampire. Her people tortured him and drove him mad, but as she’s the one who is supposed to calm his beast, he needs her near. So, being of old tradition, the werewolf kidnaps Emma and coerces her into returning to his ancestral home in Scotland. Early on in the book Lachlain is purposefully cruel, and uses Emma’s fear to get her to agree to sexual situations. He does not rape her, but she’s scared he will, and the exchange of promised freedom/phone calls for indulging him make you want to break the guy’s jaw.
He’s not the only one looking for Emma, though. Her Valkyrie aunts want her back and demons are attacking all the strongholds. Over time Lachlain comes to accept that Emma is his true mate and wants nothing more than to make her happy, but his early action terrified her. As he gets his beast under control, he vows not to touch her without her permission again. He promises to protect her — and he does. But he also fears the damage may already be done and worries she may never love him back.
I loved the world Kresley Cole created in A Hunger Like No Other. The interplay between vampires and werewolves is often seen, but the added element of the Valkyries was brilliant. The structure of the supernatural society — with periodic Ascensions with war — is intriguing and reason enough to continue reading the series. Additionally, Emma makes some nice, albeit rapid growth and gets in touch with both her warrior and vampire sides.
The problem here, for me, is how conflicted I felt about wanting a happily ever after here. Cole makes you want Emma and Lachlain together. You like them both, understand what motivates their actions. But, you see, even knowing the reasoning behind Lachlain’s early behavior, the idea of wanting a HEA between a kidnapping and sexual assault victim and her attacker makes me a little queasy. (And, to be honest, I want to know why no one warned me about that.) We get insight into why Lachlain behaved the way he did, and Emma lets it go, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
That said, I’m game to read more Immortals After Dark books. Provided the next book doesn’t go the “rape her into loving him” vibe, I think I could really enjoy the series. The characters are intriguing, the world inviting and the romantic interplay steamy.
Sexual content: Graphic sexual scenes, some of which fall under “dubious consent”