While I know that an author’s muse can’t always take their story where the readers would prefer to go, I have to admit that I was firmly in the camp with Kresley Cole fans who were predisposed to, if not dislike, at least like Macrieve less than the previous books in the Immortals After Dark series. There are other characters for whom we’ve been waiting a long time and we were not interested in being introduced to more. But, while we still wait anxiously for those other books, this one did not completely disappoint, even if it is one of the weaker books in the series.
The Lykae Uilleam MacRieve has a lot of baggage. From age nine to age thirteen he was preyed upon by a succubus who used him for sexual sustenance, after convincing him she was his one true mate. When MacRieve’s mother found out she was understandably outraged, and her confrontation with the succubus caused the destruction of MacRieve’s family. Now, centuries later, MacRieve has come to be known as “bucket list” by the nymphs who will have sex with just about anyone in The Lore, because his introduction to sex at such a vulnerable age left him twisted. Except that lately he hasn’t had sex with anyone since his brutal capture and imprisonment by The Order, a group of humans bent on wiping all supernatural beings from existence. Prior to escaping The Order’s control, MacRieve was singled out by a sadistic female “doctor” who got off on things like vivisecting him while he was awake and aware. Now, feeling irreparably damaged and unable to confront those responsible for his torment, MacRieve has planned his suicide and is just waiting for the right time. Before he is able to carry out his plan, MacRieve’s brother Munro comes to him with news – the leader of The Order had a daughter hidden away!
Chloe Todd, soccer phenom and Olympic hopeful, has been captured by teenage witches and put up for auction, minimum bid one million dollars. Until very recently Chloe was a normal woman, albeit disinterested in men, but has had a confusing few weeks. First she exhibited strange supernatural powers, including hearing a phone conversation from hundreds of yards away, in which her father was addressed as “Commander” and was apparently discussing capturing a werewolf. When Chloe talked with her father about this, he told her he’d hoped she’d remain human, handed her a book on The Lore, and then took off, never to return. Thanks to the book, Chloe has some idea of the types of creatures bidding on her, but has no idea why they want her so badly.
The MacRieve brothers attend the auction even though they know they won’t be able to afford the prize, intending to stake out whoever wins the commander’s daughter and ambush the commander when he arrives to rescue her. It is at this crossroads, milling with thousands of creatures of the lore, that the brothers scent a miracle. To Uilleam the smell says “mate!”, to Munro it says “sister”. Incredibly, upon following the scent trail, the brothers find that Uilleam’s mate is the commander’s daughter.
MacRieve is character driven, which is a contrast to the adventure focus that made the earlier books in the series so popular. The plot revolves around MacRieve attempting to assimilate the fact that he was mated to a mortal; he fears that his beast will appear and harm Chloe during sex as it does with his immortal lovers, due to his childhood molestation. He quickly forgives Chloe for being the commander’s daughter, but cannot get past the issue that arises when she comes into her immortality the morning following their first beautiful, romantic day together. The latter two thirds of the book are filled with angst. First MacRieve hates Chloe, but she’s his mate, he hurts her, then she forgives him, he tries to be a nice guy but messes up again, she forgives him again…blah, blah, blah. It was hard not to vacillate between feeling sorry for MacRieve given his past, and wanting Chloe to bitch-slap him and tell him to go to hell. In the previous IAD novel, Lothaire, this angsty back and forth worked beautifully, but here – not so much.
I also found a couple of other things problematic. First of all, I despise the word “cunny” and it is used several times. But that’s just my opinion. I also thought the commander’s reappearance was way over the top. The capsule he swallowed before Lothaire killed him in the previous book caused changes that were foreshadowed, but the character we see in MacRieve seemed a sort of parody. What really bothered me the most is this question – Why didn’t Lothaire know of Chloe’s existence? Chloe and the commander shared a house, so why wasn’t Lothaire curious about this human woman who lived there too?
But this is Kresley Cole, and long time fans will find a lot to enjoy. The MacRieve brothers are fostering two orphaned Lykae, both of whom are vividly drawn and often comical, with one standout in particular, the smart-mouthed Ronan. He’s just a kid, but he gives the centuries-old Uilleam advice that he should have taken from the get-go. It would have been a very different book if he had. The always amusing Nix plays a large role in this book, if not a particularly happy one in the beginning. Like the rest of the series, pop culture references abound, there is plenty of humor, and there are lots of sex scenes. If you can get past the angst in the middle, the start and the end result of the main characters’ relationship are very endearing. The characters speak to each other like real people you’d like to know, dialog being one area in which the author has always excelled.
By all appearances the next book in the series will be Munro’s, and I haven’t decided yet whether I’m disappointed by that or not. It’s difficult for me to be truly disappointed by any book by Kresley Cole. But there are still all those other characters…