Dreams of a Dark Warrior
Don’t read this review if you have any interest in Ms. Cole’s wildly popular Immortals After Dark series and haven’t begun reading it yet. This is the ninth book — the eleventh if you include novellas — and is chock full of information about plotlines begun in earlier books. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend reading Dreams of a Dark Warrior unless you have read the all other books in the series. I’ve read most but not all and was, at times, befuddled. That’s not to say it not a great read — there’s a reason millions of the IAD books have been sold — but it’s rather perplexing if you haven’t kept up with all the books preceding it.
Dreams of a Dark Warrior tells the disaster-prone love story of Aiden the Fierce (he’s a born again and again berserker) and Regin the Radiant (a Valkyrie). Regin and Aiden met centuries ago and are destined to lose and love each other over and over. Regin is an immortal and Aidan is striving for immortality but not quite there. They are cursed to, every time they meet (in whatever incarnation Aiden is in this era), kiss and then have Aiden die. Regin has learned the hard way that loving Aiden means his death and thus has devoted most of her energies over the past few decades to the violent, entertaining, video-game playing life she shares with her immortal sisters at the wryly named Val Hall in New Orleans.
Regin has been hilariously featured in many of the other IAD books and, as this tale begins, she is heading off to go help her sister Lucia, whose adventures are featured in the seventh book, Pleasure of a Dark Prince. However, before she can leave, she is captured by Aiden, who in his current incarnation is a bitter, cruel Irishman named Declan Chase. Declan works for the Order, a creepy organization determined to wipe all immortals — good or evil — off the face of the planet. Declan is a twisted piece of work. His first encounter with immortals involved a bunch of horrific beings killing his family and torturing him. Since then he has been driven to do the same to any immortal unlucky enough to fall into his and the Order’s hands. He has no memory of his earlier lives and, now that he’s ensnared Regin, he plans to torture, then brutally kill her in the Order’s secret prison complex.
Regin, from the moment she’s in his presence, realizes that Declan is the latest version of Aiden. She’s got a host of choices, none of them pleasant, to consider now that Aiden/Declan is back in her life. She knows he’s her true love, she knows he has no idea what they are to one another and, most importantly given that he has trapped and is torturing her peers and friends, she knows if she can get him to kiss her the kiss will ensure his rapid demise. Her problems are complicated by the fact that she has a hard time seeing her beloved Aiden in harsh Declan. He’s a hottie but he’s not the hottie she’s used to and that makes her path even less clear.
Ms. Cole’s world is filled with amusing, extraordinary characters and many of them show up in Dreams of a Dark Warrior. Whacko Nix and sketchy Lothaire play a large part in this book and it’s easy to see (and hope) that theirs may be the next installment in the series. The IAD books are known for being incendiary and this book, while less burning than others in the series, is replete with both excellent sexual tension and sex. Ms. Cole is a genuinely funny writer and those looking for witty repartee and sly jokes will find them aplenty in this book. It’s an exceedingly enjoyable read.
That said, it’s not my favorite in the series. Declan is a bit too nasty and miserable and it’s confusing whether he’s Aiden, Declan or some composite of both. Regin is wildly cocky and, at times, I wanted her to be more vulnerable. Their love story, filtered as it is through incarnations, is for much of the novel fairly elusive. I don’t doubt their happy ending, but I didn’t quite follow the paths they took to get there.
However, any Kresley Cole book is likely to be well-written, complicatedly plotted, and full of passion, smart humor, and strong women. Dreams of a Dark Warrior is all of those things and, I suspect, to those faithfully following the series, an excellent addition to the IAD books. Don’t read it if you haven’t read those. But if you have kept up with those over-sexed immortals, you’ll likely love this book.