Why did I read this book: It had overwhelmingly positive reviews on virtually every site, and having read another so-called paranormal romance (Bitten by Kelley Armstrong) and loved it, I decided to give this one a try…despite the hideous cover art and embarrassing summary.
I suppose you could say that I had it coming to me.
After reading that blurb, how on earth could I possibly believe that this book would be a serious paranormal fiction entry? All I can say in my defense is, I plead temporary blindness. I hated almost every aspect of this book, and only kept reading it because I had paid $7 for it, and I’d be damned if I didn’t finish the thing.
Why did I hate this book so much? Good question. I can summarize by saying this is the exact type of ridiculous drivel that gives GOOD paranormal fiction/romance a bad name. This story was nothing but your typical brawny hero possessing his mate. The only difference was there were some vague inclinations and descriptions of vampires, werewolves, and fae. This book failed as both a romance for me, and in its attempt at paranormal lore, leaving only…what? Its washed out, horrible characters? Thanks, but no thanks. I can think of a dozen writers in the paranormal fiction world that do it much better than Ms. Cole.
First and foremost, this is not about paranormal creatures and their worlds. Not really. It is a romance novel…which automatically wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I didn’t let that deter me though; if done well, the paranormal romance thing can be fun and interesting. However, this was not the case for me reading this book.
Our hero, Lachlain, begins trapped in a pit of eternal suffering, being burned alive and then regenerating (since he is a werewolf) beneath the streets of Paris. This has some promise–it’s demented and sick, and after being subjected to such torture for centuries, enough to drive anyone completely mad. Then, all of a sudden, he scents his true mate walking above him. Driven mad by his need for her, he tears himself from his shackles (tearing off and having to regenerate a limb in the process), and sets off hungrily to find and possess her. Eventually he makes it up to street level and is able to track his mate down…and immediately pins her, rips her shirt open and tries to mate with her on the spot. (First red flag being flown up the pole right about now) Emmaline, the heroine, has no idea what is going on. She is a half vampire half valkyrie (fae) creature that is only 70 years old (young so far as immortals go), on a trip to Paris on her own for the first time to find her long lost vampire father. She is innocent, sickeningly sweet, beautiful, etc ad nauseam. She has no idea how beautiful she really is, so she is terrified and has no clue why this hulking male creature has tracked her down and is attempting to force her to get down with him. In the middle of the street, no less.
What ensue are a series of painfully embarrassing scenes that attempt at sensual hotness. Lachlain goes up to Emmaline’s room (she’s under threat of rape), and he watches then helps her take a shower (WTF?). After rest, and then discovering ZOMG! Emmaline is part vampire! (the ever sworn dreaded enemies of the Lycans–and she is the only female vampire in existence…why? I have no idea), Lachlain is still determined to have his way with her, and forces her to drive with him to his clan’s palace in Scotland, lying to her that once she gets there he will let her go (and she the complete imbecile believes him).
Along the way, there is lots of sexual tension, more threats at rape, Emmaline feeds on Lachlain and finds it ever so erotic, oh yeah and they fall in love with each other.
I hated the possessive and grossly domineering manner with which Lachlain treated Emmaline. Maybe some chicks like being manhandled by big!strong!manly!men, but I am not one of them. Furthermore, having her stay with him under his thinly veiled threats that he could do whatever he wanted with her just doesn’t fly with me. Lachlain is rude and nasty not only to Emmaline, but to her protective family, and while he steals her money and drags her off to his home (like a caveman grabbing his woman by the hair), I couldn’t find any pleasure in the situation.
Emmaline is also a mess. I hate stock Mary Sue characters. She is sweet and kind and understanding and meek and everything I really don’t want in a heroine. Show some spunk girl!–this strange man is trying to force himself on you and all you can think about is how nice intimacy feels for the first time and how he makes your loins heat up? COME. ON. Yeah, by the end of the novel she fights her ass off and somehow defeats her master vampire father (puh-LEASE, she would have been toasted), discovers her hidden vampire strength and teleportation abilities, and becomes strongwoman! but it felt contrived and pointless to me. Ms. Cole’s power hierarchies felt ridiculously amateur.
In terms of the paranormal aspect, we get the typical run of the mill vamps, weres and fairies. The only really emphatic praise I can give for this book is from steering away from the sexy vampire stereotype (which is completely overdone and drives me batty). I liked that the vampires were badass, animal-like creatures that were to be avoided at all costs…but the final showdown between Emmaline and her father was ludicrous. If he was such a badass boss vamp, I’m pretty damn sure things would not have gone down the way they did. Cheesy, horrible nonsense.
The best written characters and the best part of the story in my opinion were Emmaline’s badass aunts. The Valkyrie were fun, nasty harpies (a nice departure from brooding Lachlain or ho-hum Emmaline). I would be interesting in reading more about these characters…but then I think about how much I suffered through this book and pretty much refuse to give Ms. Cole another chance. She’d probably turn these cool fae into simpering ninnies at the hands of their dominant men.
Notable Quotes/Parts: I was in hysterics giggling over the actual writing Ms. Cole used to convey Lachlain’s Scottish accent. “Doona tell me ye doon’t love me Emmaline!” The whole ‘doona’ thing was frustrating to read. It was *nearly* as bad as Elizabeth Haydon’s cockney accent in Rhapsody. For good use of accents in writing, see Joanna Bourne or Diana Gabaldon. This was just distracting.
Additional Thoughts: One random note on the cover–which is cringe-worthy for me as well. It’s not even right! Lachlain is a werewolf, not a vampire! It is Emmaline who is the vamp, so this cover is just ridiculous without even being accurate.
If anyone reads this book as one of their first paranormals, PLEASE I IMPLORE YOU DO NOT JUDGE THE GENRE BY THIS. I can steer you towards many other, well written paranormals (that have romance too) that aren’t so cringe-worthy. And hey, they actually have plots that make sense, heroes worth rooting for, and intricate monster lore.
Verdict: Horrible. I want to donate this book to my local goodwill as soon as possible.
Rating: 3 Horrible, barely readable