Wow, Thea I had no idea you felt so passionate about the book. I just hope I can defend it as well as you attacked it.
Why did I read the book: I bought it ages ago after reading good reviews and it has been sitting on my TBR pile. After reading Twilight I decided I wanted to read more paranormal romances.
I think that perhaps the fact that Thea and I approached the book from different backgrounds and with different expectations is what made such a divergent outcome in our appreciation for the book. Unlike Thea I had no major expectations about the paranormal. I have read few paranormals so far and I am not even very sure what it takes for a book to be considered a paranormal. I knew this one was a Romance in its core though, with paranormal elements and that was what I settled for, anything else would be an added bonus. And I have to say that I ended up loving both aspects of the book – they are intertwined and I cannot see one without the other.
Lachlain is the king of the Lykae, a Scottish clan of werewolves.
He has been a captive for over 150 years suffering the agonising torture of constantly dying and regenerating; until one day he smells the scent of his Mate and that is enough to make him master the strength to release himself from the bonds that lock him in the catacombs where he is being held. Strength enough to make him chop his leg off once he realises he is too weak to release that last cuff. He does that without so much of a second thought. This is only to show how much finding his Mate means to him- he has been expecting her for over a thousand years. He has dreamed, fantasised and hoped that one day he would finally meet the one that was destined to be his. This is very important – the Lykae female is the only one that can calm the beast inside a male and at this point the only one that can keep his memories and hurt of the past 150 years at bay. She can ease his pain and this is what drives him to her. Bear in mind, that we are talking here about a primary, basic instinct, relating to the Beast inside the man; and that a Lykae female would be expecting for him as well and their first encounter would undoubtedly be a happy moment which would lead to a sexual encounter at first sight – they would finally be joined together in all possible ways after waiting for each other for so long.
So he chases her scent and finds her and is completely horrified by the fact that his Mate is a Vampire!
That poses a lot of problems. Not only vampires are natural enemies of the werewolves on the particular mythology of the book, but also it was a vampire that has kept him prisoner for so many years. He is furious; he is confused, it abhors him to think that she is leech, a killer. This Mate of his who is to be the Queen of his people is supposed to be his enemy! On top of everything, she is weak and has no idea of what being his Mate means. So yes, he behaves in a horrifying way towards her in the first few chapters. He is overbearing, he threatens her, he wants revenge as much as he wants to mate with her.
Now, Emma is a complete coward. She is meek, she is a ninny and that makes her feel sick about herself. She is known as Emma, the Timid amongst her people – a Coven of Maiden Warriors from the Norse Mythology, for Emma is half Vampire, half Valkyrie. She has a lack of confidence that comes from not knowing what is her place in the world; she never reached the balance between her two halves. She has grown up amongst these women warriors who are powerful, strong, cold in the face of danger. She has the potential of being all that but her vampire half brings vulnerability to her for not being able to go into the sun and for the need to be nurtured with blood whereas her people don’t even eat. So it is no surprise to me that Emma is such a coward and even though she received training in fighting she never really mastered it. She doesn’t know what she is capable of, because she has an identity problem – she is a vampire but she has never been allowed to actually live like one, to suck the blood out of a living being (she drinks from a blood bank) and her Valkyrie half never truly surfaced.
When she is taken by Lachlain, she is even weaker for she has not fed in days and yet she still manages to try and fight him the best way she can even though she is terrified of him. But then, she realises that his touch does strange things to her, things that she never felt because she never felt connected to anyone and that spikes her curiosity. And that is enough to make her start to feel comfortable in her own skin. Lachlain also starts to understand that he cannot escape his destiny and that this woman is indeed intended for him. He cannot avoid feeling protective towards her –it is his duty after all. And as soon as he realises that she is not a killer, he decides that he is going to be the one to feed her – from his own blood. And that makes her stronger – not only because she is taken the blood from a strong being but also because she is finally allowed to see who she really is. This is where they start to connect and to bond.
I liked that as the story moved forward they were both changed. Emma started terrified of him, lacking self-confidence and horrified at the thought of being attached to him forever – this is what being a Mate to Lykae means and Valkyries are independents beings. But as she feeds from him she gets physically stronger, enough to feel so confident in herself that she fights him (she manages to break his jaw), fights one of the females from his clan and eventually she meets the King of Vampires and vanquishes him. That was the culminating point of the story where Emma became what she was always supposed to be and Lachlain realised that this woman is very capable of taking care of herself.
And yes, the catalyst for their change was love and it was sex. It is very basic indeed. Sounds cheesy, sounds corny but in the words of Ewan McGregor’s Christian “Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us where we belong, all you need is love”!
I have to admit that I am usually not very fond of the overbearing, overprotective Alpha Male heroes but once I suspended my beliefs in order to be sucked in into this particular mythology all was very simple to me. Had he been a normal man in a regency novel, I would probably agree with Thea but he is not. He is a freaking werewolf and alpha maleness is the norm here.
I also loved the secondary characters specially her Valkyrie Coven and his Lykae friends. I want to learn more about them and about this universe so I will definitely be picking the next one up. Thea, maybe you could give Kresley Cole a second chance? I truly think that you should read another one of hers now, after your incursions into Romanceland. Plus, the next book is about one of the Valkyries and a Vampire and it sounds awesome!
Memorable quotes/ Parts: The first time she feeds from him. It was a very pleasurable and erotic experience for both of them against Lachlain’s better judgement. It reminded me a lot of when Mina and Dracula sucked each other’s blood in Bram Stocker’s Dracula – that is one of my favourite movie scenes and one that I can watch over and over again.
Additional thoughts: loved all the things about this universe – the Lore, the Vampires, the Shape shifters and the fact that there is an upcoming war between all beings. Most of all I loved the shout out to the Norse Mythology with the Valkyries. Many many years ago I used to read a lot about mythology and The Norse was one of my favourites. Heck, I even learnt to read Runes!
Verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed it, more than I expected. I read it just under 6 hours and was completely sucked in. Definitely reading the sequels. There is a lot of sex (or sexual references) right from the very beginning that may turn some people off. It did work for me though as I thought it an inherent part of who Lachlain was.
What I am reading next: Wonderful by Jill Barnett