Review: From the Grave

Review: From the GraveFrom the Grave (The Arcana Chronicles, #6) by Kresley Cole
Series: The Arcana Chronicles #6
Published by Valkyrie Press on April 18, 2023
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 356

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. I cried and laughed. The story ends just perfectly and much better than I expected.

THE STORY: This book begins right where the previous book ends. This is the conclusion of the Arcana series. Evie, the Empress, is soon to have her child and has returned to Death to try and repair their relationship. There is an alliance that is attempting to manipulate the ending of the game. With Jack and her alliance, Evie wants to save her friends and reverse the curse on the earth.

OPINION: This book is an unforgettable emotional journey that left me both satisfied and yearning for more. As a reader who had genuinely mixed feelings about the previous books in the series, I can say that this book exceeded all my expectations.

The book starts right where The Dark Calling left off, with Evie and Aric trying to rebuild their broken relationship while Jack and Gabriel embark on a perilous mission to put an end to the game and save humanity. The story took twists and turns that left me on the edge of my seat as the stakes were higher than ever before. I couldn’t put the book down once I started the first page.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is its characters. Kresley Cole has masterfully crafted complex and multi-dimensional characters that feel like real people. Both Aric and Jack demonstrate the qualities that made Evie fall in love with them both, and the relationship between them is authentic and heartwarming. Even when some of the characters meet tragic ends, their journeys are all the more impactful for it.

The emotional impact of this book cannot be overstated. From the very first page, readers will feel a range of emotions as they accompany the characters on their journey. You will laugh, cry, and experience heartache like never before. The story is so well-crafted that you will feel like you are right there with the characters, living through their pain and triumphs.

The book’s ending is both satisfying and bittersweet, offering closure to the series while leaving enough room to imagine what could come next. It answers important questions, but still leaves enough mystery that I continue to ponder the events and ending. It is an epic conclusion to an incredible series that will leave you breathless and emotionally drained in the best way possible. This book leaves a lasting impact long after the final page has been turned.

WORTH MENTIONING: I keep thinking this series became darker, but it has been pretty dark from the beginning. The series became more emotional as we got to know the characters. I had a hard time with the books in the middle because I really did not like the triangle, but this book ended well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FROM THE GRAVE is the sixth and final book in the Arcana Chronicles series. This book should NOT be read out of order. It is the conclusion of a series that builds on the prior books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: The Captain of All Pleasures

Review: The Captain of All PleasuresThe Captain of All Pleasures (Sutherland Brothers, #1) by Kresley Cole
Series: Sutherland Brothers #1
Published by Pocket Books on March 27, 2007
Genres: Historical
Pages: 370

FINAL DECISION: This is clearly an early Kresley Cole book. There is so much promise, but not as well constructed as later Cole books. At the same time, I really loved what feels like an homage to classic romance books. Pirates! Racing around the world! A hero with secrets! A heroine who is wilful and independent! So much of the tone and feel of this book I loved, but it doesn’t feel as polished as later books.

THE STORY: Nicole Lassiter has two separate lives. She lives freely helping her American sea captain father sail around the world, but her grandmother wants her to be a lady and make a good marriage. Her father’s nemesis is Captain Derek Sutherland. Someone is sabotaging boats in a race from England to Australia.  When Derek ends up rescuing Nicole, he doesn’t know who the mysterious woman is, but there is a great attraction between the two. Across the world, the two compete and fall in love. But both have secrets that threaten any possible happy ending.

OPINION: This book is uneven and was good but not fantastic for me, but the book was interesting, and for fans of Kresley Cole, you can see the bones of what she will perfect in later books. I loved that she takes the bones of old historical romance and breaks them, and makes it more modern and complicated. This is a book I would read again, not because it was amazing, but because it has such a great underpinning of life.

Kresley Cole is taking stories from romances that I read in the 80s and 90s and refashioning them into something new but at the same time not losing those classic moments that were great. This is a romance on the high seas with lots of action and drama. There are plenty of secrets and twists.

The weakness of this book is that the final secret that each main character holds felt like the revelation came too late in the story, and thus the end was a bit rushed. But I really liked both of these characters. Nicole is strong and independent, and determined. Derek is a jerk and is completely broken when he falls for Nicole.

There are scenes from the past, but also previews of books in Kresley’s future. The book feels a little clumsy in its execution, but there is no doubt that it was written by a master in the making and was worth my day.

WORTH MENTIONING: The end of this book suggests at the next book in the series, but it is not a cliffhanger.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE CAPTAIN OF ALL PLEASURES is the first book in the Sutherland Brothers series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: The Dark Calling

Review: The Dark CallingThe Dark Calling (The Arcana Chronicles, #5) by Kresley Cole
Series: The Arcana Chronicles #5
Published by Valkyrie Press on February 13, 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 318

FINAL DECISION: This book might be my favorite of the series so far. Mature and complex with the darkness of the story manifest. The penultimate book in the series sets the final conflict into motion. The relationship complexity of the triangle is well done here (and I’ve never liked triangles) and allowed me sympathy for all three characters, which I did not expect when starting this book.

THE STORY: The pace of the story picks up as THE DARK CALLING starts right where the previous book in the series, ARCANA RISING, ended (on a cliffhanger). Something sinister has arisen just as Evie is experiencing a life-changing event. Now alliances and relationships built throughout the series are threatened as more Arcana characters are eliminated from the game. (Considering the cliffhanger from the previous book, it is difficult to describe this book without spoilers).

OPINION: This is now my favorite book in the series because the characters have finally matured to the extent that I like them all. Even Evie, who has driven me crazy for most of the series. Even with the triangle, which really bothered me until this book worked for me.

In this book, the characters confront a new menace as secrets that have been kept since the beginning of the series are revealed. The book is nicely structured as well as many things are resolved and cleared out of the way, leaving the central conflict in the series left.

The time since the flash has impacted each of the characters in THE DARK CALLING, and they are more world-weary and have matured. Thus, their characters have become more complex and less teenage annoying. This book has some intriguing revelations as the story moves toward the conclusion in the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the penultimate book in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DARK CALLING is the fifth book in the Arcana Chronicles. This series should be read in order because it is one story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Munro

Review: MunroMunro (Immortals After Dark, #18) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #18
Published by Valkyrie Press on January 25, 2022
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 432

FINAL DECISION: Loved, loved, loved this book. Cole has the amazing ability to give each hero and heroine exactly the story they need. Fun, adventurous, and deeply emotionally satisfying. This book not only is a great story in itself but moves the IAD series forward in new ways.

THE STORY: Munro MacRieve has been captured by warlocks who seek to make his wolf captive to them. Munro resists all efforts by the warlocks to make his wolf appear until they bring him his fated mate, Kereny “Ren” Codrina. When she dies, Munro seeks a way to change time to find his mate again. Ren then finds herself kidnapped by Munro on her wedding day. But this human woman has no intention of surrendering to the immortal and instead seeks to find her way home.

OPINION: This was a wonderful book. Not my favorite in the series, but the exact book I needed today and the perfect book for Munro. After the break in the series for the last couple of years, I worried that Cole would not return to form. Instead, this book is on fire and the overarching story is still moving forward in amazing ways.

Munro has been foretold to have a harridan for a mate. And Ren is just lovely in this book. She is strong and independent and is not taking any guff from Munro from the moment they meet. The story begins with what readers of the IAD series already know and yet what happens immediately after might be the most heartbreaking scene in the series. In fact, this book was an emotional rollercoaster: ones I wept at, ones I wanted to read through spread fingers in anxiety, ones that made me laugh, and ones that were heart satisfying that I felt so warm and comforted.

Munro gains tremendous depth here. In comparison to Will, Munro seemed too nice, too perfect. This book so neatly sets out that Munro has his own scars from his past but also from his brother’s story. Feeling responsible for Will for years has taken its toll on Munro even as he seems the “happy” and “carefree” twin. Everything about Munro’s story with his mate push on Munro’s pain and weaknesses — which makes this book so good. I loved Munro as a character — especially as he interacts with other male characters who have shared parts of his journey.

I am so impressed with how Cole can write a story that is so of the world and yet feels fresh and new. In preparation for this book, I re-read the entire series and this book did not feel like any other in the series. That is why Cole is a master in this genre.

Readers of the series might wonder how and why the story is returning to this story after Sweet Ruin and Wicked Abyss and the Dacians books which seem to blow the IAD story out into a bigger universe. And the question also was — why give the preview of this story in MacRieve and then write a bunch of books in the middle. This book answers that question. Indeed, this book needs all of the prior books to make this story work. Nothing is wasted and it makes perfect sense that this book comes at this point in the overarching story. The revelations in this book also change and alter many of my expectations of where the stories of the characters are going. Good stuff!

Now to wait for the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some good twists for fans of the series. To avoid spoilers, I won’t mention which characters make appearances, but enough do to make any fan happy.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MUNRO is the eighteenth book in the Immortals After Dark series. The romance here is self-contained but this series has an overarching storyline that cannot really be appreciated here. A reader should just start at the beginning or at least read MACRIEVE.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.



Review: MacRieve

Review: MacRieveMacRieve (Immortals After Dark, #14) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #14
Published by Gallery Books on July 2, 2013
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 384

Twisted and Painful and Dark But The Lykae is Also Cute

“You need to rebreak that bone. It didn’t set right.”

FINAL DECISION: The sad and painful journey of MacRieve to recover from his past where he discovers the mate he needs, treats her poorly and then realizes that she can help him heal. Chloe’s kickass personality was my favorite in this book.

THE STORY: Uilleam (“Will”) MacRieve is messed up. Tortured by his enemies, MacRieve has lost his Lykae instinct and he wants to die. The one thing that keeps him alive is the possibility of revenge. At this critical moment of his life, he meets his mate, Chloe Todd. Chloe is the mortal daughter of MacRieve’s enemy and is being auctioned off by the House of Witches. MacRieve’s instinct revives and tells him that he has to protect her. Things are complicated, however, because Chloe has secrets that even she doesn’t know that might send MacRieve from her forever.

OPINION: This is a journey through MacRieve’s past. As Nix tells him, he hasn’t healed from his past where he believes he caused the death of most of his family by his actions. His torture at the hands of the mortals has revived that pain and increased it. It’s sad that he meets Chloe and she seems to be able to help him heal, but then things go wrong.

MacRieve is brooding, dark, damaged and often times a serious jerk. He has some serious baggage that has haunted him for over nine hundred years. When he is charming, he is adorable. I also really liked the reversal of the normal Lykae story in this book. Here, MacRieve’s beast is often close to the surface and he learns to harness it through the book.

Chloe is one of my favorite heroines. MacRieve treats her poorly, but she doesn’t cower and whimper. She fights him. Her strength and determination allows her to survive MacRieve’s treatment of her. She also has to deal with some real surprises.

For fans of the series, Nix’s plans are revealed more here.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the best epilogue but be prepared to be frustrated by having to wait.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MACRIEVE is the fourteenth book in the Immortals After Dark series. It can be read as a standalone although there is an overarching storyline for the series for which the reader needs to follow the various books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Lothaire

Review: LothaireLothaire (Immortals After Dark, #12) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #12
Published by Pocket on January 10, 2012
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 468

The Enemy of Old Meets His Match

“Lothaire the Enemy of Old had returned for her. Just as he’d promised.”

FINAL DECISION: Dark and macabre at times, this book fits one of the evil characters in the IAD universe. Lothaire’s mate is exactly not the woman he expected and that makes this so good.
THE STORY: Lothaire the Enemy of Old is an ancient ruthless vampire. The bastard son to the former king of the Horde, Lothaire has sworn to take over the Horde and also the kingdom from his mother’s family. Elizabeth “Ellie” Peirce is a mortal on death row and is possessed by what she terms a “demon”. Soroya an an ancient evil vampire ex-goddess and Lothaire believes that she is his mate. He intends on finding a way to exorcise Ellie and claim Soroya as his own. The complication is that the longer Lothaire is in the presence of Ellie and Saroya, the more he begins to fear that his mate might now be who he thinks it is.

OPINION: I love the struggle that Lothaire has in determining his mate. He treats Ellie terribly and one might expect that it is she who is his mate. Ellie is certainly not evil, but she isn’t a sweet, innocent miss either. Even better, she doesn’t really change Lothaire much — readers of the series can be assured that Lothaire doesn’t turn into Mr. Nice Guy, but rather controls his darkest impulses.

The story is very dramatic with sneaky and intriguing dilemmas and clever, dark solutions. Lothaire and Ellie have a very dark and dangerous journey to their happiness.

Lothaire’s mysterious past is revealed which once again adds understanding but not excuse to Lothaire’s behavior. There are big things here that effect all of the Lore.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lothaire rips out his own heart and sends it to Ellie. Weirdest courtship yet.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOTHAIRE is the twelfth book in the Immortals After Dark series. It can be read as a standalone. It is better to read it as part of the series, however, because there is an overarching story and intricate relationships that are not really understandable to new readers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Dreams of a Dark Warrior

Review: Dreams of a Dark WarriorDreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark, #11) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #11
Published by Pocket Books on February 15, 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 512

Dark, Sexy Action Adventure Paranomal Romance

“Hear this tale, the legend of Aiden the Fierce and Reginlet the Radiant One, a pair of lovers both bound and cursed by fate.”

FINAL DECISION: Filled with action, suspense and a dark story, this book takes the idea of Regin’s true love returning and turns it upside down as he is reincarnated as a killer of immortals. I loved the drama and angst this added to the story.

THE STORY: A thousand years ago, Regin the Radiant, a Valkyrie, fell for Aiden the Fierce, a mortal warrior and berserker. Right after Regin and Aiden made love, he was killed. For a thousand years, Aiden has been reincarnated and cursed with dying as soon as he recalls the past. Aiden has been reincarnated again as Declan Chase, a brutal soldier and member of the Order whose mission it is to capture, study and kill immortals. Captured and tortured by Declan, Raiden is now thinking on how she can make him remember their past in order that he will die and help her and her friends escape.

OPINION: The twist of having Regin’s grand love return as an enemy gives this book an edge. Declan is not merely an enemy in name only. He tortures immortals — including Regin. He is broken and dark and irresistible. I liked that the book explains but doesn’t excuse Declan’s behavior. I especially liked the ultimate resolution of the drama of the series and the question of whether Declan would remember and thus die and continue the painful history that he and Regin share.

This book is action packed and filled with characters both old and new. This book is most closely connected with DEMON FROM THE DARK which overlaps this book in content and in time.

WORTH MENTIONING: Oh Lothaire, he’s a really dark, bad and sexy dude.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR is the eleventh book in the Immortals After Dark series. It can be read a standalone but there is an overarching storyline in the series about the coming Accession, an epic battle between immortals.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Demon from the Dark

Review: Demon from the DarkDemon from the Dark (Immortals After Dark, #10) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #10
Published by Pocket Books on August 24, 2010
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 384

Dark, Rich and Super Sexy

“Those who betray me do it only once.”

FINAL DECISION: I love stories with tortured men and Malkom has been tortured throughout his life. He meets Carrow and his sweetness and innocence — even while he is offering her ghoul heads as courtship tokens — is lovely.

THE STORY: Carrow Graie aka Carrow the Incarcerated is a witch and a party girl whose magic originates from the good feelings of others. Her joy, however, hides a pained heart. Rejected by her parents, Carrow desperately wants to gain their attention. In the midst of her personal strife, Carrow is captured by a human group experimenting on members of the Lore. Carrow is offered freedom if she agrees to help capture a vemon (vampire demon) named Malkom Slaine. Malkom is a demon outcast who was unwillingly poisoned by vampire blood. He now lives alone desiring revenge. When Carrow appears, he realizes that he has finally found his mate. Malkom has killed everyone who has betrayed him. What will he do when he realizes that Carrow has as well?

OPINION: Both Carrow and Malkom have sad pasts. The tension and drama where Carrow betrays Malkom ripped my heart out. Malkom is immediately such a good and sweet man who hasn’t had a life that has allowed him to show that side of himself. As he accepts Carrow as his own and courts her in his awkward and often mistaken way, he charms the reader and ultimately Carrow herself. These two seem likely doomed from the moment they meet. I also liked the caveman/city girl relationship these two have at first where they do not communicate well.

Cole once again perfectly melds the relationship between Carrow and Malkom with a plot that advances the overarching storyline of the series. While big things happen here, both old and new characters appear, the story never loses focus on the relationship of Carrow and Malkom and the question of whether a man who has been betrayed by everyone can love the woman who also betrays him.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book sets up the next round of books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEMON FROM THE DARK is the tenth book in the Immortals After Dark series. This book can be read as a standalone although new readersr should be aware that there is an overarching story of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Pleasure of a Dark Prince

Review: Pleasure of a Dark PrincePleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark, #9) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #9
Published by Pocket Books on February 16, 2010
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 431

Darker Story Than Others In the Series

FINAL DECISION: This story is a darker than others in the series. I also thought that there were dark secrets that Lucia was keeping that ended up putting both her and Garreth at risk at the end of the book. I was disappointed that the drama of this book turned so much on Lucia keeping a secret that she should have revealed.

THE STORY: Lucia the Huntress (a Valkyrie) is an amazing archer and has a dark and secretive past. When the Lykae (werewolf) Garreth MacRieve scents Lucia, he recognizes her as his mate. Lucia has sworn an oath of celibacy and tries to avoid the determined Garreth. Garreth spends his time watching and protecting Lucia from a distance until she goes on a journey to confront her past and save the future.

OPINION: There was so much that I liked about this book but I did not like it as much as others in the series. My biggest complaint is that it depended so much on Lucia keeping the secret of her past. She doesn’t disclose it until it is too late and Lucia and Garreth almost die because of it. I slowly became annoyed by her continued determination to keep her secrets even when it obviously was necessary to disclose.

Despite this, I really liked these characters. I thought that Lucia was an intriguing character because she funneled her powerlessness into being powerful and yet fair and thoughtful. I felt for her painful past and the fact that she has to confront her pain again and again. Garreth is a sweetheart. I’m a fan of these “wolfy” characters. Affectionate, determined to bring joy and pleasure to their mates in all ways. I loved how he cares for Lucia even in the face of her determination to reject him.

This was a good book but not one of my favorites of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: By the time this book ends, there are big things afoot.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PLEASURE OF A DARK PRINCE is the ninth book in the Immortals After Dark series. It can be read as a standalone but readers should be aware that these books build upon one another regarding an overarching storyline. I think the books are better read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

UPDATE: (4/17/19) Re-read:  I’ve updated my rating to 4.5 stars. While on the original read, I was seriously annoyed by Lucia’s decision not to reveal her secrets to Garrick, on my re-read, I saw this issue as more nuanced. Lucia fears that Garrick will make decisions that are wrong and upset Lucia’s mission. And even Garrick admits that she is right. I still think that Lucia’s decision to be so secretive causes more problems, but I liked this couple much more on the re-read.



Review: Deep Kiss of Winter

Review: Deep Kiss of WinterDeep Kiss of Winter (Includes: Immortals After Dark, #8; Alien Huntress, #3.5) by Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole
Published by Pocket Books on December 28, 2010
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 520

Loved the Kresley Cole Novella

DEEP KISS OF WINTER is a winter themed book composed of two long novellas.

UNTOUCHABLE by Kresley Cole: This novella is the eighth book in the Immortals After Dark series. Daniela the Ice Maiden is a Valkyrie and the Rightful Queen of the Icere the Fey of the Frozen North. She is a reluctant because the touch of any person other than those from her homeland create terrible pain for both her and the man. Murdoch Wroth is a vampire soldier who was a rake in his human life and is one vampire who doesn’t want to find his Bride (the one woman who can make the vampire’s heart beat again). Of course, Daniela is Murdoch’s Bride and the two begin a contentious difficult on again off again relationship.

I thought this was a great holiday story. It begins at the beginning of the series and then follows the entirety of the series. It ends with the four vampire brothers and their brides. I enjoyed this replay of the series from a different viewpoint. The other part I really enjoyed was the difficult relationship between Daniela and Murdoch because of her touching issues. I liked that the book did not brush that issue aside. These two have a long difficult road to travel for their happiness and I appreciated the complexity and breadth of the story. Rating: 4.25 stars.

TEMPT ME ETERNALLY by Gena Showalter: The story of Aleaha Love a shapeshifter who has taken the identity of Macy Briggs, who is a cop with alien investigations. She ends up going out on a mission for the first time. She encounters Breean Nu, a golden skinned warrior who has come to planet with his men trying to find a new home. When he sees Aleaha, he has an attraction to her and decides that he doesn’t want to let her go. He takes her captive.

This was the first thing I have read by Showalter and I thought the story was strange and interesting, but I didn’t feel the connection between the characters. I believe the story is part of a series and perhaps it would be better if I had read those books first. I did find the shifting heroine to be intriguing and I wish I knew more about her. Rating: 2 stars.