When you have a long running series, it must be easy to get into a rut in terms of plot and the way the characters come together. I think this is especially true in Paranormal Romances where you build a world and work within a defined set of rules. That is why it is so impressive that Kresley Cole can take those rules, work within them, and still always give us something new and different like she does with Shadow’s Claim!
Trehan Daciano is a member of a sect of vampires known as the Dacians. They have kept themselves segregated from the other species within the Lore as a means of protection. In order to keep themselves hidden, they occasionally need to protect their secret through the assassination of outsiders intent on revealing them. That is where Trehan comes in. He is the Dacian assassin charged with destroying anyone who could reveal their identity. When he goes after the most recent target, Caspion the demon, he discovers his Bride – the one woman capable of bringing his undead body back to life, and his destined mate. Unfortunately, his Bride is in love with his target for assassination, who is also the front-runner in a tournament for her hand in marriage and the throne of her kingdom. Could there be more obstacles for poor Trehan to overcome?
Bettina is the heir to the throne and she has “willingly” allowed a contest to be held for her hand in marriage. But as “willing” as she was to be manipulated into the situation, when she sees the contestants, she can’t even begin to imagine how she will ever actually bed any of the males. Except for two of them – Caspion, the love of her life, and Trehan, the mysterious vampire who makes her blood boil like even Caspion never has. She knows who she wants to win. Or does she? Caspion has been very frank with her and admitted that he sees her as only a sister and a dear friend, but she can overcome that can’t she? She can make him love her as passionately as the vampire can. All she needs to do is help to ensure that he wins the tournament. Of course, to do that he would need to kill Trehan, the man who ignites her passion, promises eternal devotion, and who is duty bound to kill her beloved Caspion. So clearly, Bettina and Trehan have “issues” they need to work through!
What I liked about this was that Cole stuck within her clear rules, yet turned them upside down and manipulated them to still create a great story that wasn’t a rehash of any of the other Immortal After Dark stories. Caspion fits into the mold of a demon. He knows Bettina is not his mate, but he does the honorable thing to protect her from the truly gruesome males that enter the contest. Only Bettina seems to think that she can outsmart demon biology and “make” him love her. So this takes the rules and turns them around in a neat package. And in the end, Caspion is completely redeemable and I have no doubt we will see him again down the road. Possibly as the mate of another Dacian? There were hints that Cole may go into a direction that I wouldn’t have seen coming. But the hints are undeniable.
I thought that the story of Trehan and Bettina was very sweet. He is the assassin who has spent centuries killing to protect his people and to turn to softer emotions was a struggle for him. In addition, Bettina very believably came to understand the differences between love, affection, and friendship. This was a sweet love story that worked for me on all levels. The plot was interesting and engaging, the characters were vivid, and the love story was sweet. What more could you want in a romance?
Add to all that Lothaire, the crazy Dacian King, giving romance tips to Trehan and you add laugh out loud funny to the mix. Honestly, that one scene alone is worth the cost of the book! I strongly recommend this for anyone who likes a good story whether they have read the previous Immortal After Dark books or not. This one can definitely stand alone.