Showing posts with label Kresley Cole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kresley Cole. Show all posts

Review // Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole

November 27, 2021

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole

There they sat in the firelight.
Enemies.
He'd almost destroyed her.
She'd nearly murdered him.
And for some reason, this moment felt the most surreal of the entire crazed night—because she recognized that on some level his presence... comforted.

────── ♔ ──────


Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole


Standalone - Immortals After Dark #3
Release - September 24, 2007
Genre - Paranormal Romance / enemies-to-lovers
Dual POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 out of 5 / several scenes / slow burn
Format/Source - ebook borrowed from the library
Length - 401 pages
Publisher - Pocket Books

Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed—until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.

Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It’s rumored that no one can tempt Bowen’s hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.

If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul—or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

You can find your copy of Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night here:
Goodreads * Amazon


My Two Cents

3.5 "Bowen can get it" stars

Seriously, he can soooo get it!

Bowen's a Lykae (wolf) and Mari is a captromancer (fancy witch name). They go together like oil and water. Their death-defying matches gave me life. Their hatred and lust for each other gave me joy. I couldn't get enough of their antics. And then I had enough and it was still happening.

I desperately need someone to tell me if ALL of the books in this series deal with enemies-to-lovers. Will I have to put up with the heroines behaving hatefully towards the heroes in every. single. book?


Cuz right now... it's getting kind of ridiculous.

When enemies become lovers, it's always hot. And it was definitely HAWT with these two. However, I could do without Mari and her nonsense. Bowen could be high-handed, but I loved how he was able to acknowledge and accept his flaws. And lets be real, everyone knew that the Lykae were like this. So why was she constantly surprised?

And let's also not forget the fact that for most of the book, the most powerful witch of them all was pretty useless. She was probably the youngest person in the Lore and acted her age.


It wasn't cute.

So I'm hoping beyond hope that the heroines are more receptive and mature in the books to come or I'm about to lose my damn mind!

Beeteedubs... the blurb is hella misleading.

Check out my other reviews for the Immortals After Dark series:



About the Author


Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers series, and five award-winning historical romances.

A master’s grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.

Her books have been translated into 23 foreign languages, garnered 3 RITA awards, a Hall of Fame induction, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Cole lives in Florida with her family.

Visit http://www.kresleycole.com for more information

Review // No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

November 16, 2021

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

Sexy.
He has too much of a biological advantage.
What female could be expected to turn him away when he wanted to be inside her?

────── ♔ ──────


No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole


Standalone - Immortals After Dark #2
Release - October 31, 2006
Genre - Paranormal Romance / fated mates
Primarily Dual POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 / several scenes
Format/Source - borrowed from the library
Length - 384 pages
Publisher - Pocket Books

A vampire 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.

A valkyrie assassin dispatched to destroy him...

When Kaderin the Cold Hearted lost her two beloved sisters to a vampire attack long ago, a benevolent force deadened her sorrow—accidentally extinguishing all of her emotions. Yet whenever she encounters Sebastian, her feelings—particularly lust—emerge multiplied. For the first time, she's unable to complete a kill.

Competitors in a legendary hunt...

The prize of the month-long contest is powerful enough to change history, and Kaderin will do anything to win it for her sisters. Wanting only to win her, forever, Sebastian competes as well, taking every opportunity—as they travel to ancient tombs and through catacombs, seeking relics around the world—to use her new feelings to seduce her. But when forced to choose between the vampire she's falling for and reuniting her family, how can Kaderin live without either?

Find No Rest for the Wicked here: Goodreads * Amazon


My Two Cents

4.5 "He's ever so worthy" stars

Is it wrong that I wanted to slap every fictional woman in Sebastian's fictional past who ever made this ficitional male doubt himself?

I'm a sucker for a broken hero and Sebastian more than fit the bill. Once a fierce human warrior, when he was at death's door, he refused his brother's help. He didn't want to become a vampire. He didn't want to live that way. He didn't really have a choice and hundreds of years later, he wasn't really living. No wonder he was so ready for Kaderin to end him.

And yet she couldn't.

Kaderin the Coldhearted found her heart. It was beating outside of her. And no matter how hard she tried to fight it, to deny it, Sebastian was her destiny.

I loved the push and pull of their relationship. He knew that she was his 'Bride'. She knew that she could never be with a vampire. Wanting and needing aside, her family would never accept him. But who cares, right?! The heart wants what the heart wants and when she finally just gave in... so beautiful!

Even the adventure aspect of the Hie gave me some cheap thrills. Is Bowen okay? I felt so sorry for the wolf who was devastated by the loss of his life mate and was so desperate to find a way to be with her again.

I'm still as fascinated as always with all of these characters, especially the ones with stories to come. Regin and Nix crack me up! Once again, the writing was on point, the plot was entertaining, and the characters were amazing. This was my favorite one of the series so far! I loved seeing Wroth and Myst again and I'm looking forward to the next book.

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

Excerpt

Chapter 1


Castle Gornyi, Russia

Present day


For the second time in her life, Kaderin the Coldhearted hesitated to kill a vampire.

In the last instant of a silent, lethal swing, she stayed her sword an inch above the neck of her prey -- because she'd found him holding his head in his hands.

She saw his big body tense. As a vampire, he could easily trace away, disappearing. Instead, he remained, raising his face to gaze up at her with dark gray eyes, the color of a storm about to be unleashed. Surprisingly, they were clear not red -- which meant the vampire had never drunk a being to death. Yet.

He pleaded with those eyes, and she realized he hungered for an end. He wanted the death blow she'd come to his decrepit castle to deliver.

She'd stalked him soundlessly, primed for battle with a vicious predator. Kaderin had been in Scotland with other Valkyrie when they'd received the call about a "vampire haunting a castle and terrorizing a village in Russia." She had gladly volunteered to destroy it. She was her Valkyrie coven's most prolific killer, her life given over to ridding the earth of leeches.

In Scotland, on that trip alone, she'd killed three.

So why was she hesitating now? Why was she even now easing her sword back to raise it before her? He would be merely one among thousands of her kills, his fangs collected and strung together with the others she'd taken.

The last time she'd stayed her hand had resulted in a tragedy so great her heart had been broken forever by it.

In a deep, gravelly voice, the vampire asked, "Why do you wait?" He seemed startled by the sound of his own words.

I don't know why. Unfamiliar physical sensations wracked her. Her stomach knotted. As though a band had tightened around her chest, her lungs were desperate for breath. I can't comprehend why.

The wind blew outside, sliding over the mountain, making this high room in the vampire's darkened lair groan. Unseen gaps in the walls allowed the chill morning breeze in. As he stood, rising to his full, towering height, her blade caught the wavering light from a cluster of candles and reflected on him.

His grave face was lean with harsh planes, and other females would consider it handsome. His black shirt was threadbare and unbuttoned, displaying much of his chest and sculpted torso, and his worn jeans were slung low at his narrow waist. The wind tugged at the tail of his shirt and stirred his thick black hair. Very handsome. But then, the vampires I kill often are.

His gaze focused on the tip of her sword. Then, as if the threat of her weapon were forgotten, he studied her face, his eyes lingering on each of her features. His blatant appreciation unsettled her, and she clutched the hilt tightly, something she never did.

Honed to masterly sharpness with her diamond file, her sword cut through bone and muscle with little effort. It swung perfectly from her loose wrist as though it were an extension of her arm. She'd never needed to hold it tightly.

Take his head. One less vampire. The species checked in the tiniest way.

"What is your name?" His speech was clipped like an aristocrat's, but held a familiar accent. Estonian. Though Estonia bordered Russia to the west and its inhabitants were considered a Nordic breed of Russian, she recognized the difference and wondered what he was doing away from his own country.

She tilted her head. "Why do you want to know?"

"I would like to know the name of the woman who will deliver me from this."

He wanted to die. After all she'd suffered from his kind, the last thing she wanted to do was oblige the vampire in any way. "You assume I'll deliver your death blow?"

"Will you not?" His lips curled at the corners, but it was a sad smile.

Another tightening on the sword. She would. Of course, she would. Killing was her only purpose in life. She didn't care if his eyes were clear of the red that marked a vampire's bloodlust. Ultimately, he would drink to kill, and he would turn.

They always did.

He stepped around a stack of hard-bound books -- some of the hundreds of texts throughout the room with titles imprinted in Russian and, yes, Estonian -- and leaned his massive frame against the crumbling wall. He truly wasn't going to raise a hand in defense.

"Before you do, speak again. Your voice is beautiful. As beautiful as your stunning face."

She swallowed, startled to feel her cheeks heating. "Who do you align with . . . ?" She trailed off when he closed his eyes as though listening to her were bliss. "The Forbearers?"

That got him to open his eyes. They were full of anger. "I align with no one. Especially not them."

"But you were once human, weren't you?" The Forbearers were an army, or order, of turned humans. They eschewed taking blood straight from the flesh because they believed that act caused bloodlust. By forbearing, they hoped to avoid becoming like crazed Horde vampires. The Valkyrie remained unoptimistic about their chances.

"Yes, but I've no interest in that order. And you? You're no human either, are you?"

She ignored his question. "Why do you linger here in this castle?" she asked. "The villagers live in terror of you."

"I won this holding on the battlefield and rightly own it, so I stay. And I've never harmed them." He turned away and murmured, "I wish that I did not frighten them."

Kaderin needed to get this killing over with. In just three days, she was to compete in the Talisman's Hie, which was basically a deadly, immortal version of The Amazing Race. Besides hunting vampires, the Hie was the only thing she lived for, and she needed to confirm transportation and secure supplies. And yet she found herself saying, "They told me you live here alone."

He faced her and gave a sharp nod. She sensed that he was embarrassed by this fact, as if he felt lacking that he didn't have a family here.

"How long?"

He hiked his broad shoulders, pretending nonchalance. "A few centuries."

To live solitary for all that time? "The people in the valley sent for me," she said, as if she had to explain herself. The inhabitants of the remote village belonged to the Lore -- a population of immortals and "mythical" creatures kept secret from humans. Many of them still worshipped the Valkyrie and provided tributes, but that wasn't what made Kaderin travel to such an isolated place.

The chance to kill even a single vampire had drawn her. "They beseeched me to destroy you."

"Then I await your leisure."

"Why not kill yourself, if that's what you want?" she asked.

"It's . . . complicated. But you save me from that end. I know you're a skilled warrior -- "

"How do you know what I am?"

He gave a nod at her sword. "I used to be a warrior, too, and your remarkable weapon speaks much."

The one thing she felt pride in -- the one thing in her life that she had left and couldn't bear to lose -- and he'd noted its excellence.

He strode closer to her and lowered his voice. "Strike your blow, creature. Know that no misfortune could come to you for killing one such as me. There is no reason to wait."

As if this were a matter of conscience! It wasn't. It couldn't be. She had no conscience. No real feelings, no raw emotions. She was coldhearted. After the tragedy, she'd prayed for oblivion, prayed for the sorrow and guilt to be numbed.

Some mysterious entity had answered her and made her heart like ash. Kaderin didn't suffer from sorrow, from lust, from anger, or from joy. Nothing got in the way of her killing.

She was a perfect killer. She had been for one thousand years, half of her interminable life.

"Did you hear that?" he asked. The eyes that had been pleading for an end now narrowed. "Are you alone?"

She quirked an eyebrow. "I do not require help from others. Especially not for a single vampire," she added, her tone growing absent. Oddly, her attention had dipped to his body once more -- to low on his torso, past his navel to the dusky trail of hair leading down. She had a flash imagining of grazing the back of one of her sharp claws along it while his massive body clenched and shuddered in reaction.

Her thoughts were making her uneasy, making her want to wind her hair up into a knot and let the chill air cool her neck --

He cleared his throat. When she jerked her gaze to his face, he raised his eyebrows.

Caught ogling the prey! The indignity! What is wrong with me? She had no more sexual urges than the walking dead vampire before her. She shook herself, forcing herself to remember the last time she'd hesitated.

On a battlefield, an age ago, she had spared and released another of this ilk, a young vampire soldier who had begged for his life.

Yet he had seemed to scorn her for her very mercy. Without delay, the soldier had found her two full-blood sisters fighting in the flatlands below them. Alerted by a shriek from another Valkyrie, Kaderin had sprinted, stumbling down a hill draped with bodies, living and dead. Just as she'd reached them, he'd cut her sisters down.

The younger, Rika, had been taken off guard, because of Kaderin's panicked approach. The vampire had smiled when Kaderin dropped to her knees.

He'd dispatched her sisters with a brutal efficiency Kaderin had since emulated. She'd like to say she started with him, but she'd kept him alive for a time.

So, why would she repeat the same mistake? She wouldn't. She would not ignore a lesson she had paid so dearly to learn.

The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can begin preparing for the Hie.

Squaring her shoulders, she steeled herself. It's all in the follow-through. Kaderin could see the swing, knew the angle she would take so that his head would remain on his neck until he fell. It was cleaner that way. Which was important.

She'd packed her suitcase lightly.

About the Author


Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers series, and five award-winning historical romances.

A master’s grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.

Her books have been translated into 23 foreign languages, garnered 3 RITA awards, a Hall of Fame induction, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Cole lives in Florida with her family.

Visit http://www.kresleycole.com/ for more information

Review // A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

October 22, 2021

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

For more than a thousand years, he'd searched for her.
And he'd found her in what he despised with a hatred so virulent he couldn't control it.
A vampire. The way she existed disgusted him. Her weakness disgusted him. Her pale body was too small, too thin, and looked like she'd break with her first stiff f--cking.
He'd waited a millennium for a helpless parasite.

────── ♔ ──────


A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole


Standalone - Immortals After Dark #1
Genre - Paranormal Romance / vamp + shifter
Multiple POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 / a few scenes
Format/Source - ebook purchase from Amazon
Page Count - 384
Publisher - Pocket Books

A mythic warrior who'll stop at nothing to possess her...

After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy...

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all-consuming desire...

Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

Find A Hunger Like No Other here: Goodreads / Amazon


My Two Cents

As much as Emma was running away from her destiny, especially the one she shared with Lachlain, I was feeling like she needed to pass her duties right on to me!

I would not and will not deny Mr. Lachlain MacRieve a dang thing! He's so delicious!!


You wanna kiss? Here are my lips.
You wanna touch? What should I use? Hands, toes, mouth, other...
You wanna bang? Tell me when and where.
Mated forever? Where the frick do I sign up???

Seriously.

I want to say that I enjoyed the tension that existed between Lachlain and Emma. Whenever there's miscommunication (or no communication), it can be quite good, amping up the heat, or it can be bad, making it an ordeal to get through. I'm still not sure which side I'm on. I do think it dragged on for far too long and I was begging for the romance to begin.

It was slow building, but there was plenty of foreplay, although it was kinda dubiously consented to. I don't know what to even think about it.


And don't even get me started on the Valkyries and their utter nonsense. Fun, but crazy. Wild, but insane. Gorgeous, but deadly. And utterly ridiculous!

Emma was like a lost girl. Half Valkyrie and half vampire, she didn't really belong anywhere. But she was raised by the Valkyries and they were the best of the best. All she wanted was to deserve their love. To be as honorable, as courageous, as fierce as they were. And yet, for most of the book, she was just rude, disrespectful, inconsiderate, and trifling.

Honestly, I couldn't stand Emma for most of this story. Lachlain... dude could do no wrong. He was away from society for over a century. He was tortured for over a century. What was Emma's excuse?

But then we got close to the end... and Emma became magnificent! Her perceived fragility and weakness gave way to a female who grew her own version of strength. And let's be honest... it was Lachlain who got her to see and reveal her best self.


My favorite moments came when these characters found clarity. When they were able to get past their preconceived notions and assumptions and get to the heart of each other. Lachlain was able to see the warrior within Emma and she was able to constantly challenge his bias against "leeches". And he just stayed being awesome, steadily working away and obliterating her walls.

So what did I think? I loved this story. I'm loving this series and I will be continuing to enjoy all of these characters!

“My ideal man? He’d have to be considerate, easygoing, and well-mannered.
Above all, he’d need to treat me like a queen.”

—Emmaline Troy, aka Emma the Timid, half vampire half Valkyrie

“Never run from one such as me, female.
You will no’ get away—and we like it.”

—Lachlain MacRieve, King of the Lykae

You should definitely check out the first book of the series:



Myst and Wroth were a blast!!


Excerpt

Sometimes the fire that licks the skin from his bones dies down.

It is his fire. In a recess of his mind still capable of rational thought, he believes this. His fire because he’s fed it for centuries with his destroyed body and decaying mind.

Long ago—and who knows how much time has toiled past—the Vampire Horde trapped him in these catacombs deep beneath Paris. He stands chained against a rock, pinned at two places on each limb and once around his neck. Before him—an opening into hell that spews fire.

Here he waits and suffers, offered to a column of fire that may weaken but is never-ending—never-ending, just like his life. His existence is to burn to death repeatedly, only to have his dogged immortality revive him again.

Detailed fantasies of retribution have gotten him this far; nursing the rage in his heart is all he has.

Until her.

Over the centuries, he has sometimes heard uncanny new things in the streets above, occasionally smelled Paris changing seasons. But now he has scented her, his mate, the one woman made for him alone.

The one woman he’d searched for without cease for a thousand years—up until the day of his capture.

The flames have ebbed. At this moment, she lingers somewhere above. It is enough. One arm strains against its bonds until the thick metal cuts into his skin. Blood drips, then pours. Every muscle in his weakened body works in concert, striving to do what he’s never been able to for an eternity before. For her, he can do this. He must … . His yell turns to a choking cough as he rips two bonds free.

He doesn’t have time to disbelieve what he’s accomplished. She is so close, he can almost feel her. Need her. Another arm wrenches free.

With both hands he clenches the metal biting into his neck, vaguely remembering the day the thick, long pin was hammered into place. He knows its two ends are embedded at least three feet down. His strength is waning, but nothing will stop him when she’s so close. In a rush of rock and dust, the metal comes loose, the recoil making him fling it across the cavernous space.

He yanks at the bond wrapped tight around his thigh. He wrests it and the one at his ankle free, then begins on the last two holding his other leg. Already envisioning his escape, not even glancing down, he pulls. Nothing. Brows drawn in confusion, he tries again. Straining, groaning with desperation. Nothing.

Her scent is fading—there is no time. He pitilessly regards his trapped leg. Imagining how he can bury himself in her and forget the pain, he reaches above his knee with shaking hands. Yearning for that oblivion within her, he attempts to crack the bone. His weakness ensures that this takes half a dozen tries.

His claws slice his skin and muscle, but the nerve running the length of his femur is taut as a piano wire. When he even nears it, unimaginable pain stabs up its length and explodes in his upper body, making his vision go black.

Too weak. Bleeding too freely. The fire will build again soon. The vampires return periodically. Will he lose her just when he’s found her?

“Never,” he grates. He surrenders himself to the beast inside him, the beast that will take its freedom with its teeth, drink water from the gutters and scavenge refuse to survive. He sees the frenzied amputation as though watching a misery from a distance.

Crawling from his torture, abandoning his leg, he pulls himself through the shadows of the dank catacombs until he spies a passageway. Ever watchful for his enemies, he creeps through the bones littering the floor to reach it. He has no idea how far it is to escape, but he finds his way—and the strength—by following her scent. He regrets the pain he will give her. She will be so connected to him, she’ll feel his suffering and horror as her own.

It can’t be helped. He is escaping. Doing his part. Can she save him from his memories when his skin still burns?

He finally inches his way to the surface, then into a darkened alley. But her scent has faltered.

Fate has given her to him when he needs her most, and God help him—and this city—if he can’t find her. His brutality had been legendary, and he will unleash it without measure for her.

He fights to sit up against a wall. Clawing tracks into the brick street, he struggles to calm his ragged breaths so he can scent her once more.

Need her. Bury myself in her. Waited so long … .

Her scent is gone.

His eyes go wet and he shudders violently at the loss. An anguished roar makes the city tremble.

About the Author

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers series, and five award-winning historical romances.

A master’s grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.

Her books have been translated into 23 foreign languages, garnered 3 RITA awards, a Hall of Fame induction, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Cole lives in Florida with her family.

Visit http://www.kresleycole.com/ for more information

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole // Review

June 05, 2021

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

When he'd seen this female in the light, he'd felt like exhaling a stunned breath — if his kind respired.


The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole


Standalone - Immortals After Dark #0.5
Release - September 25, 2017 (new edition)
Genre - Paranormal Romance/enemies-to-lovers
Dual POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 4 out of 5
Format/Source - Kindle purchase
Length - 185 pages
Publisher - Pocket Star

The Warlord

Nikolai Wroth, a ruthless Vampire general, will stop at nothing to find his Bride, the one woman who can “blood” him, making his heart beat and filling him with strength. Coldly interested only in the power his Bride will bring, he can hardly believe when Myst the Coveted awakens him body—and soul.

The Seductress

Famed throughout the world as the most beautiful Valkyrie, Myst has devoted her life to protecting a magical jewel and to fighting the vampires. Wroth provides her with the perfect opportunity to torment her sworn enemy—for with his new heartbeat comes a consuming sexual desire that can only be slaked by her. Denying him, she flees, struggling to forget his searing, possessive kiss.

The Hunt is on…

She eludes him for five years, but he has finally chased her to ground and stolen her enchanted jewel, giving him absolute power over her. Now that she’s his for the taking, he intends to make her experience first-hand the agonizing, unending lust she subjected him to for half a decade. Yet when Nikolai realizes he wants far more than vengeance from Myst and frees her, will she come back to him?

Man, this story was a freaking blast!

The mythical history created for this tale and for the journey of males like Wroth is incredibly interesting and I need more. Wroth, once a fearless and esteemed soldier, was resurrected to be a warrior in an honorable army of vampires. He and his comrades don't really know much about their new existence, so when he comes across a being who might have some answers, he can't help but be intrigued by her. It doesn't hurt that Myst happens to be absolutely gorgeous.

Myst, a Valkyrie, was a female who had her own code of honor. Her own sense of justice. A bit selfish, a lot reckless, she had some murky motivations. However, she was a steady source of entertainment. While she was constantly underestimated, she was a powerful force and I loved how the author characterized her. She may have always had a soul and felt kinship and compassion for her sisters, it wasn't until she found Wroth that she truly discovered her heart.

If it's stories like this one that Kresley Cole has to offer, I'm ready to read them all!

Five years ago
Mount Oblak Castle, Russia

If the overgrown vampire didn’t stop staring at her face, even his wicked talent with his sword wouldn’t keep his head upon his shoulders.

The thought made Myst, an immortal known as the Coveted One, grin as she curled up in the windowsill of her cell. Leaning against the reinforced bars, she watched the two vampire armies battle below as she might a rumble from the back of bleachers.

The poor warlord with his broad shoulders and jet black hair was about to join a legion of other males whose last sight on earth was her smiling face—

She frowned when he ducked and ran through his enemy. He was a big male, at least six and a half feet tall, but he was surprisingly fast. Tilting her head, she studied him. He was good. She knew fighting and liked his style. Dirty. He’d cut with his sword then strike out with his fist, or duck a parry then throw an elbow. It amused her to watch, but what she wouldn’t give to be down there fighting. In the middle. Against both sides. Against him.

She fought dirtier.

His gaze continued to stray to her, and once he’d even killed while his eyes were still on her. She’d blown him a kiss, sincerely, choosing to see it as a tribute.

He found time to glance back even as he thundered orders and gave commands to the army of vampires around him, showing brilliance in strategy. She examined it all as though watching Decisive Battles on A&E and grudgingly noted the effectiveness of his army’s acid grenades and guns.

The creatures of the Lore scorned human weapons like these. The only ones such weapons could kill were humans, which was beyond non-sporting. Yet that was the thing about bullets—aside from ruining perfectly good couture, they hurt and could immobilize an immortal for precious seconds. Long enough for a dirty fighter to take your head. Done enough times, they could help take an “untakable” castle like Ivo the Cruel’s.

Myst hardly cared that Ivo, her jailer and tormentor, was about to have his ass handed to him by this warlord with his forbidden modern weapons. Her situation would not change, for these rebels, turned humans known as the Forbearers, were still vampires. A blood foe is a blood foe is a blood foe….

An explosion rocked the castle, and sparks and bits of debris wafted down from the roof of Myst’s cell. The low creatures in the dank holds down the corridor howled with impotent fury, increasing in urgency with each successive blast, until it was … over. Silence. An aftershock here and there, a muted whimper…

The defense of this castle was no more, its inhabitants having disappeared—by tracing, as the Lore called teleporting—leaving no more than an airy draft and the burned records of their Horde.

She could hear the rebels searching the bowels of this place but could’ve told them they wouldn’t find any of their enemies. The denizens here had not been a fight-to-the-death sort, more of a he who fights and runs away, lives to run away another day type.

Shortly after, she heard heavy boots on the stone floor of the dungeon and knew it was the warlord. He crossed directly to her cell and stood before it.

From her perch, curled in the window, she examined the vampire up close. He had thick, straight black hair that hung over his face in uneven sections, no doubt from where he’d sheared it off with his blade months ago, and never thought to cut it since. Some hanks were kept from his field of vision with those small ravel plaits like the berserkers used to wear. He had scars on his hands, and his big body was powerful and cut with muscle. She wanted to purr—because apparently central casting had just sent down the consummate virile warlord.

“Come down from there and show yourself.” Deep voice. Russian accent, moneyed, aristocratic.

“Or what? You’ll lock me away in a dungeon?”

“I might free you.”

She was at the bars before he’d had time to lower his gaze from the window. Had his squared jaw slackened just the smallest bit? She listened for a quickening of his heart, but found none because there was no heartbeat whatsoever. So the vampire was single? His eyes were clear of the red haze that marked bloodlust, which meant he had never drunk a being to death. But then a Forbearer eschewed taking living blood through the flesh altogether.

When he saw her face up close, the key wasn’t immediately in the lock as it usually would have been, but his lips parted, exposing his fangs for her to see. Of course his would be sexy—not too prominent or even much longer than a human’s canines.

When she saw the short splendid scar that passed down both of his lips, lightning struck just outside, but he didn’t flinch at the bolt or even glance up—he was too busy staring back at her.

Scars, any external evidence of pain, attracted Myst. Pain forged strength. Strength begat electricity. This one could give it to her.

It was possible he was even missing an eye under a thick hank of hair.

She stifled a throaty growl as her hand shot out to brush his hair back. But he was quick, catching her wrist. She curled one finger in a beckoning gesture, and after a moment he released her, allowing her to reach forward. She brushed his hair back, revealing a hard-planed, masculine face covered with grit and ash from the battle.

He was still in possession of both of his eyes and they were intense. Gun-metal gray.

When her hand dropped, his brows drew together, perhaps at her blatant interest, or perhaps at her fingers already stroking the bars in invitation as she stared at his mouth. She was surprised by how carnal she found it, especially since the vampire could use it to hurt her.

The smooth gold chain that she’d worn at her waist for millennia now felt heavy on her.

“What are you?” he asked in his pleasingly low voice. She realized then that his accent wasn’t Russian, but from that of neighboring Eesti. The general was Estonian, which made him a kind of Nordic Russian, though she was sure he wouldn’t appreciate that description.

She frowned at his question and pulled back her hair to show him her pointed ear. “Nothing?” She parted her lips and tapped her tongue against her smaller dormant fangs. No recognition.

Apparently, the rumors were true. Here was a leader in this army, a general most likely, and he hadn’t a clue that she was his mortal enemy. He would think she was fey or a nymph. She’d prefer fey because she’d cringe to be confused with one of those little hookers—

She shook her head. As long as he didn’t know she was Valkyrie it worked for her.

Killing the unwitting Forbearers would be easy for her and her sisters. Too easy. Like being your own secret Santa.

Myst had just confirmed rumors in the Lore that whispered of asses and elbows and this Horde’s inability to differentiate between the two.

“What are you?” Nikolai Wroth demanded again, surprised his voice was steady.

When he’d seen her in the light, he’d felt like exhaling a stunned breath—if his kind respired—for she was strikingly lovely, with a beauty only hinted at from the distance of the battlefield. He’d been attracted to that face to his reckless peril.

Though she had expected him to recognize her kind, all he could determine was that she wasn’t human and that he hadn’t a clue what she might be. Her ears said fey but she also had the smallest fangs.

“Free me,” the creature said. Flawless skin, coral pink lips, flame red hair. The eyes that flickered over him appraisingly were an impossible green.

The way she held the bars was suggestive—everything about her was … suggestive.

“Swear fealty to my king, and I will free you.”

“I can’t do that, but you’ve no right to keep me here.”

His brother Murdoch passed by then, raised his eyebrows at Nikolai’s discovery, and muttered in Estonian, “Sweet Christ.” Then he walked on. Why was Nikolai unable to do the same?

“What’s your name?” He wasn’t used to his questions going unanswered.

Another stroke of the bars. “What do you want it to be?”

He scowled. “Are you a vampire?”

“Not the last time I checked.” Her voice was sensual. He couldn’t place her accent, but it was drawling, honeyed.

“Are you innocent of malice against us?”

She waved a dismissing hand. “Oh, good gods, no! I love, love, love to kill leeches.”

“Then rot in here.” As if she could kill a vampire. She was scarcely over five feet tall and delicately built—aside from her generous breasts showcased in her tight shirt.

Just before he turned, he saw her eyes narrow. “I smell smoke,” she called after him. “Ivo the Cruel burned his records before he fled, didn’t he?”

Nikolai stilled, clenching his fists because he’d have to return.

“He did,” he grated at the cell once more.

“And this new king’s army is full of Forbearers—turned humans? It matters little. I’m sure the king is very knowledgeable about the vampire Horde’s extensive list of enemies within the Lore. He wouldn’t need this castle’s records. In fact, I’m positive that that is not the reason you chose this stronghold over the four others, including the royal seat.”

How did she know their agenda so well?

Nikolai could plan battles and sieges—he’d earned his rank by this victory alone—but he knew nothing of this new world to advance the army. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one.

The blind leading the blind. When they’d found the records reduced to a smoldering heap of ash, that’s what Kristoff had muttered.

“You think to bargain for your freedom? If you do happen to have information, I can get it from you.”

“Torture?” she asked with a laugh. “My first piece of information I’ll divulge to you? I wouldn’t recommend trying to torture me. I dislike it and grow sulky under pincers. It’s a fault.”

The things in the cells, many of which he’d never even heard of, never could have envisioned, howled and grunted at that.

“Now let’s not quarrel, vampire. Free me, and we’ll go to your room and talk.” She offered her fragile-looking hand out to him. A smudge of ash was stark against her alabaster skin.

“I don’t think so.”

“You’ll call for me. You’ll be lonely in your new quarters and will feel out of sorts. I could let you pet my hair until you fell asleep.”

He drew in closer and lowered his voice to ask in all seriousness, “You’re mad, aren’t you?”

“As—a—hatter,” she whispered back conspiratorially.

He felt a hint of sympathy for the creature. “How long have you been in here?”

“For four long … interminable … days.”

He glowered at her.

“Which is why I want you to take me with you. I don’t eat much.”

The dungeon erupted with laughter again.

“Don’t hold your breath.”

“Certainly not like you, Forbearer.”

“How do you know what I am?”

“I know everything.”

Then, if true, she had a wealth they didn’t.

“Leave her,” Murdoch called at the gateway of the dungeon. His brows were drawn, no doubt puzzled by his brother’s interest. Nikolai had never pursued women. As a human, they’d either come to him or he’d gone without. He’d had no time in wartime. As a vampire he had no such need. Not until he could find his Bride.

He shook his head at the insane, fey creature, then forced himself to walk on, though he thought he heard her whisper, “Call for me, General,” making the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

He followed his brother to Kristoff’s new antechamber and found their king gazing out into the clear night from a generous window—one that would be shuttered in the few hours till dawn. When Kristoff turned to them, his gaunt face looked weary.

Nikolai suspected it had been difficult for him to kill other natural-born vampires, his own kindred, no matter how crazed they’d become, and no matter that they followed his uncle Demestriu, who’d stolen his crown centuries ago. Nikolai had no such compunctions. He was weary but only from injury and his sword arm being overworked as he hacked through them.

“Were any of the records salvageable?” he asked with little hope. If the vampires of this castle had spent as much energy fighting as burning, they might have kept Oblak. To his disgust, they’d fled. He didn’t understand it. When defending your home, you defend to the death.

He had.

Kristoff answered, “None.”

Without the records, their own ignorance would kill them. Kristoff, the rightful king, had been raised by humans far from Demestriu’s reach. For centuries, he had lived among them, hiding his true nature yet learning little of the Lore. His army consisted of human warriors he’d turned as they died on the battlefield, so they knew nothing. Before Nikolai had seen Kristoff standing over him like an angel of death, offering eternal life for eternal fealty, Nikolai had thought vampires were mere myths.

The rules of this new world were complex and often counterintuitive, and their order knew little more than conjecture and what had been learned by painful trial over centuries. They were trapped in a kind of twilight—not human and yet universally shunned by all the factions of the Lore. Those beings hid in the shadows, fleeing from whatever land Kristoff’s army occupied, working together to always be one step ahead. Nikolai’s human experience said they should have been able to get information by now, but the reality was that this was a different plane altogether. The same effort that went into hiding the Lore from humans for ages went into keeping Kristoff’s soldiers in the dark as well.

“Any sign of Conrad or Sebastian?” Kristoff asked.

Nikolai shook his head. He hadn’t seen his brothers since shortly after they’d been turned, but he knew natural born vampires often clashed with turned humans. Though he and Murdoch hadn’t expected to find their brothers here, they had distantly hoped the two might be in the dungeon of the castle they’d strategically needed to take.

“Perhaps the next Horde stronghold.”

Nikolai nodded, though he doubted it. He sensed his brother Bastian was dead and suspected the mind of the youngest, Conrad, was unreachable even if he could be found. The two had not appreciated the eternal life their older brothers had forced on them.

Murdoch examined a gouge in his arm, seeming unconcerned with this blow, but then he generally seemed unconcerned about everything. Though they shared similar looks, he and Nikolai couldn’t be more different in personality. Nikolai believed in Kristoff’s cause, seeing many parallels to his own past, and wanted to continue to fight. Murdoch didn’t particularly care. Nikolai suspected his brother fought only as a favor to him—or because they had nothing else now.

“Nikolai found a being in the dungeon,” Murdoch said. “She seems to have extensive knowledge of the Lore.”

“What kind of being?”

Nikolai answered, “I have no idea. She appears fey, delicate, with sharply pointed ears. But she has these small fangs and her fingernails were more like … claws. She’s not vampire.”

Kristoff frowned at that. “Perhaps she’s born of more than one species?”

“Perhaps.” More speculation. Nikolai was sick of it. He wanted to know the rules of the game so he could dominate it.

“Find out everything you can from her.”

“She won’t talk. I’ve interrogated enough to know she’ll hint but never truly divulge. And she hates vampires.”

Kristoff pinched his forehead. “Then tomorrow night if we haven’t gotten information from the rest of the prisoners, we treat her as the Horde she hates would. Torture her for the information if you can’t get it any other way.”

Nikolai nodded, but the idea sat ill with him. As a human he’d been merciless to his enemies, but he’d never tortured a woman. She wasn’t truly a woman, he reminded himself. She was a female among the Lore, and their army’s survival could depend on the knowledge she held.

Perhaps he’d never tortured a woman because he’d never needed to.

The creature had been right, Nikolai thought as he made his way to his new chambers. He was going to call her up to him.

To do what with her, he didn’t know.

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers series, and five award-winning historical romances.

A master’s grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.

Her books have been translated into 23 foreign languages, garnered 3 RITA awards, a Hall of Fame induction, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Cole lives in Florida with her family.

Visit http://www.kresleycole.com/ for more information