Author: Kresley Cole
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Stand alone or series: Second book in the Immortals After Dark series
Summary: (From amazon.com)
A soldier weary of life . . .Centuries ago, Sebastian Wroth was turned into a vampire — a nightmare in his mind — against his will. Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite, fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.
Why did I read the book: Terms of The Dare with Ana.
Well, it’s no secret that I am not a huge fan of Kresley Cole. I found book 1 of this series silly and over-the-top (review here). So it was with extreme wariness I began No Rest for the Wicked, steeling myself for more of the same.
While I can’t bring myself to recommend this book, I did find that it was significantly better than A Hunger Like No Other. Maybe because I went into this book knowing exactly what to expect from Ms. Cole (lo and behold, sexy scene one takes place on pg 3), or because I have a bit more experience with more paranormal romance now (emphasis on romance), I wasn’t so taken aback by this one.
The story begins with Sebastian, a 300 year old vampire who has secluded himself in a cold castle tower, unfeeling and disgusted with himself. Kaderin the Cold, a Valkyrie who cannot feel any emotion after the loss of her sisters in battle, enters the castle with the intent to kill Sebastian, as she is a ruthless vampire assassin. However, inexplicably, when they see each other they both begin to experience strange emotions. Sebastian’s heart starts beating again as he becomes “blooded”—that is, his heart beats life into him, something only his Bride can accomplish (the Vampiric equivalent of a soulmate). Simultaneously, Kaderin experiences a rush of lust and emotion, something she has not felt in over 1000 years. Kaderin can’t bring herself to kill Sebastian, they start groping each other in passion, finally resulting in mutual orgasm, and Kaderin running away from the confusing emotions she feels and Sebastian vowing to have his bride at any cost.
Meanwhile, it is almost time for The Hie—a supernatural scavenger hunt that takes place every 250 years, with a unique prize for the winner. Kaderin has won the past 1000 years worth of Hies, but this particular competition is more important to her than any other. The prize is a key that unlocks time itself, which means that Kaderin will have a chance to right her fatal mistake over a millennium ago and save her sisters from death. The competition is fierce though, as her toughest competitor is the Lykae (werewolf) Bowen, who also desperately needs the key to go back and save his mate from her death. Adding more spice to the mix is Sebastian, who is the first Vampire to ever figure out how to “trace” (teleport) to a person and not be hindered by mere tracing to places he has physically visited before. He too enters the Hie, anxious to win Kaderin’s heart.
I liked the idea of the Hie and the scavenger hunt. It was a cool little supernatural contest, and seems like the sort of event a fickle goddess would hold for entertainment, and something immortals could look forward to every 250 years. The different settings and markers that Ms. Cole picked were also kinda cool and fun…if not completely accurate. As Ana pointed out in her review, the Gobi Desert isn’t in Africa. Come on now.
I also very much enjoyed the character of Kaderin, and the portrayal of the Valkyrie as deadly because they are so underestimated. They look tiny, delicate, beautiful—but it’s a defense mechanism that allows them to catch their enemies unawares. Kaderin’s motivations, her desire to save her sisters, and her increasing emotions for Sebastian are sweet and relatable. She was a much more engaging character than Emmaline in A Hunger Like No Other, and thank goodness refrained from being a washout that gets pushed around by her snarly mate.
Sebastian on the other hand really was a bit of a wanker, to quote Ana. Constantly whining about his lack of sexual experience and his fear that his ginormous…manhood would hurt Kaderin, scared that his Bride relished too much in cruelty and fighting, etc…Sebastian got tiring really quickly.
Also there were a number of scenes in the book that made me roll my eyes. For instance, at one point, Sebastian and Kaderin are sealed in a cave with three deadly Basilisks closing in on them. Instead of working on the rocks that have them enclosed, Kaderin decides that this is the perfect time to start a sexual interlude, rolling around in the dark. I mean, they are about to be made dinner by some freaky large snakes and they are passionately rounding third base?! Finally, when the snakes are within striking distance, Sebastian decides to start working on the exit strategy (while Kaderin stares at his muscly manly back with lust, dragon snakes be damned!). Uh…no. Don’t get me wrong! I’ve got nothing against sex in a story–when it works within the context of the story.
Another scene involves Kaderin and Sebastian discussing the mechanics of time travel—which has to be one of the most ridiculously contrived scenes I have ever read. Sebastian tells Kaderin that the key won’t work, you cannot travel in time, to which Kaderin argues that if you subscribe by certain particle physics it is possible. She then throws out the t-word (Tachyons!), talking about a theoretical particle that can oscillate faster than the speed of light, therefore can loop back to it’s own pre-existence. The conversation comes out of nowhere, feels like some halfbaked Wikipedia search on ‘time travel’ put to an immortal setting, and as a consequence of this little interlude I nearly had my eyes stuck in the back of my head.
The final showdown, explaining time travel once Sebastian wins the key, is another scene that comes to mind. The Goddess that sponsors the Hie explains to Sebastian that if he goes back in time, he can save a ‘snippet’ and return to a future that is completely unchanged by his actions. Using a ribbon and a pair of shears to illustrate, the Goddess snips a past section of ribbon off, then explains that the rest of the ribbon remains (symbolizing the future) and cannot be changed.
What this really amounts to is that Kaderin can now go into the past, save her sisters, come back to the future and absolutely nothing will have changed (except her sisters are now alive). A main conflict in this book was Kaderin’s growing distress at going back in time to save her sisters but then effectively lose Sebastian because she would never have become the coldhearted assassin knocking on his door. Ms. Cole finds a cutesy, contrived nonsense way of fixing everything and letting everyone live Happily Ever After. The End.
I was extremely disappointed. This book would have received much more respect and a higher rating from me had Ms. Cole sucked it up and not ended it cookie-cutter perfect. But then again, I understand she is writing to a different target audience and her books sell based on HEA endings. I guess.
Notable Quotes/Parts: Hmm. Well I have to grant that Ms. Cole’s sex scenes between Kaderin and Sebastian were steamy good fun. The scene where Sebastian extracts “payment” from Kaderin on her private jet definitely merits a mention!
Additional Thoughts: After reading this book, A Hunger Like No Other, and then C.L. Wilson’s Lord of the Fading Lands, I found myself wondering what it is about this fascination with creating a universe where men find their soul mates and can only have one mate. Is this theme so popular in romance because of some feminine desire to have men desire us and stay monogamous? Therefore writing about Fey truemates or Vampire Brides or Lykae soul mates or whatever feeds some romanticized ideal where men absolutely cannot cheat on their partners?
Verdict: Decent although not without some serious problems. I unfortunately still do not have the desire to read any more of Ms. Cole’s books.
Rating: 4 Bad, but not without some merit.
On the Next Dare:
Ana reads Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright. Call it, a Harry Potter for adults. With physics, philosophy, and mythology.
Thea reads The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, considered one of the first mystery novels, a classic of British 19th century literature.