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: A Kingdom of Dreams

Review: A Kingdom of DreamsA Kingdom of Dreams (Westmoreland, #1) by Judith McNaught
Series: Westmoreland #1
Published by Pocket Books on May 31, 1991
Genres: Historical
Pages: 438

Beautiful Historical Romance

“A toast to the Duke of Claymore and his bride!”

THE STORY: This book takes place in 1497 when disputes continue between the English and the Scottish. Jennifer Merrick is the daughter of a Scottish earl who has been sent to an abbey because of her stubborness. One day, Jennifer and her stepsister are taken captive by The Wolf. Royce Westmoreland, Earl of Claymore and the English King’s “Wolf”, takes the two sister to use as leverage to defeat Jennifer’s father. The Scottish girl soon challenges Royce in unexpected ways and her pride and willfulness intrigues him. Despite the fact that the two should be enemies, there is no doubt that the two find in one another something they both need. At the same time, danger and intrigue threatens to tear them apart.

OPINION: This book is complicated and layered and so is the relationship between Royce and Jennifer. In a world filled with violence and war, both Jennifer and Royce really want peace, but are constantly pulled toward discord and violence. Jennifer is spirited and is no victim when held captive by Royce. I liked how the balance between the two is always kept even when it seems that Royce should have the upper hand. The story was interesting and grounded firmly in historical events. My favorite part of the novel, however, was Royce. He is a hero whose gentle qualities are slowly revealed throughout the book. He makes serious mistakes that threaten his relationship with Jennifer and he takes action to make reparation and to draw his wife back to him. His willingness to treat Jennifer as an equal is also something that develops through the novel. This novel has definite emotional development and movement for the characters which makes the ending satisfying.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is some physical violence between Jennifer and Royce (including spanking), but I didn’t feel that it was particularly serious considering the book occurs in 1497.

FINAL DECISION: I ended up loving this book primarily because of Royce, who I initially thought distant but whom I ended up loving because of how he treated Jennifer.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A KINGDOM OF DREAM is the first book in the Westmoreland Saga that spans centuries of the Westmoreland family.

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.


Review: The Warlord Wants Forever

Review: The Warlord Wants ForeverThe Warlord Wants Forever (Immortals After Dark #1) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #1
Published by Pocket Books on November 22, 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 192

Fresh, Humorous, Sexy and Intriguing

FINAL DECISION: Immediately intriguing, this book begins the Immortals After Dark series by seamlessly introducing a new world and keeping the focus on the relationship between the main characters — all in just over 150 pages.

THE STORY: Nicholai Worth is a vampire general who is searching for his Bride — the woman who can make his heart beat and bring him into his full power. He ends up finding Myst the Coveted, a Valkyrie who taunts him leaving him unfulfilled for five years. When he finally catches up with her, he intends to make her pay for his torment.

OPINION: Many times a first book in a paranormal series will suffer because of the needed time to introduce the world it inhabits — not with WARLORD WANTS FOREVER. The focus here remains on the characters of Nicolai and Myst. They have a seriously combative relationship and their “cross-species” romance is something that must be navigated carefully. A true Romeo and Juliet type story, these two have the world against them and yet are destined to be together. I loved that these two are both warriors and respect one another in the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: These are some sexy unearthly characters.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WARLORD WANTS FOREVER is the first book in the Immortals After Dark series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Kiss of a Demon King

Review: Kiss of a Demon KingKiss of a Demon King (Immortals After Dark, #7) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #7
Published by Pocket Books on January 20, 2009
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 417

Good Boy Attracted to a Bad Girl

“Rydstrom was known as upstanding and good, Sabine as treacherous and evil.”

FINAL DECISION: This intriguing story of a good king who has been really tired with being good and having people defer to him finds his mate in a wicked woman who is on the side of evil.

THE STORY: Rydstrom Woede lost his kingdom nine hundred years ago and has spent those years plotting to get it back. Just when he discovers the existence of a sword that can kill his “unkillable” usurper (that story is told in DARK DESIRES AFTER DUSK), Rydstrom is abducted by Sabine, Sorceress of Illusions, a wicked woman who is half sister to the usurper and working with him. Sabine intends on seducing Rydstrom and becoming pregnant with his heir in order to cement control of Rydstrom’s kingdom.

OPINION: What I found most intriguing about this book is the story that begins as a good man and a wicked woman and yet the attraction between the two demonstrates that the good boy has a bad side and the bad girl can also be sympathetic and gentle. The complexity of these characters was refreshing because the book doesn’t have a cop out that Sabine has actually been a good person all along. Her bad acts are explained and can be understood but are not diminished as being bad acts. This book moves beyond the bad/good dichotomy and allows itself to dwell in shades of grey which makes the character more vibrant, more real and more interesting.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book takes place concurrently with the previous book and fills in the gaps of what was happening in Cade’s book since this book is from Rydstrom’s perspective.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KISS OF A DEMON KING is the seventh book in the Immortals After Dark series. This book can be read as a standalone but is better read as part of the series. At least a reader should read the story of Rydstrom’s brother DARK DESIRES AFTER DUSK which occurs concurrently with this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Dark Desires After Dusk

Review: Dark Desires After DuskDark Desires After Dusk (Immortals After Dark, #6) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #6
Published by Pocket Books on May 20, 2008
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 388

Immortals Road Trip with a Dark Undertone

“She equaled the crown he’d worked for nine hundred years to reclaim — the unyielding pursuit that had given him a reason to go on living. All he had to do was use and betray the woman he’d waited just as long to possess.”

FINAL DECISION: This book has a fun and sexy roadtrip between Cade and Holly. I loved how Holly was introduced to the Lore, but the book has an underlying dark side as Cade lies to Holly and is willing to sacrifice her and their possible relationship in order to assuage his guilt.

THE STORY: Cadeon Woede is a rage demon and known as the Kingmaker — although he lost his brother his kingdom. Cade has felt that guilt for nine centuries and has been determined to rectify that mistake. He’s offered an opportunity to obtain a sword that will help his brother kill the usurper. All Cade has to do is find the “Vessel” (a female who will bear a child that will be ultimate good or evil) and turn her over. Cade discovers that the vessel is the woman who is his mate. Cade has been watching Holly Ashwin for a year but her humanity has kept him from claiming her. When it turns out that she is the vessel, Cade knows that he will have to lie and trick Holly and sacrifice her in order to rectify his error.

OPINION: A fun and sexy roadtrip of self-discovery for Holly, this book has a dark side. I loved so much about this book — the fun banter and relationship between Holly and Cade, Holly’s neurotic tendencies and her discovery of her true nature, Cade demon sexiness. Boy is this book hot! Having Holly be a human with no knowledge of the Lore allowed the education of her to substitute in the narrative for the reader and thus permitted exposition of some of the important events of the overarching series. Her inexperience also allows for great comedy as she discovers the Lore.

My disappointment with this book is that I didn’t feel that Cade groveled enough after the lies he told Holly. She forgives him too quickly for my tastes. This book is good and a great addition to the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book takes places at the same time as KISS OF A DEMON KING which follows.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK DESIRES AFTER DARK is the sixth book in the Immortals After Dark series. This book can be read as a standalone although it is better as part of the series since there is an overarching story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Dark Needs at Night’s Edge

Review: Dark Needs at Night’s EdgeDark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark, #5) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #5
Published by Pocket Books on April 29, 2008
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 368

The Complexity and Variety in Cole’s Immortals World Always Surprises

“Two broken souls together in this broken place had found a kind of contentment.”

FINAL DECISION: Cole’s Immortals series always surprises. These characters are different and unique and despite the continuing storyline, this book feels fresh and interesting. Always filled with humor and intense sexuality, this story is also poignant.

THE STORY: Neomi Laress was a famous ballerina in New Orleans in the 1920s and she became a ghost when she was murdered in her own home. For over eighty years, she has been trapped in her home invisible to everyone. Conrad Wroth is a vampire who has been almost driven mad by consuming blood from living beings. Captured by his brothers who want to save him, Conrad is held hostage in Neomi’s house. And he can see her.

OPINION: This was a wonderful story. Conrad is a vampire on the edge. The first time in the series we have seen a red-eyed vampire return from the blood madness. He is also a virgin. His pairing with the free spirited and sexually experienced Neomi is a good combination. I especially liked how both Conrad and Neomi are trapped in her house but that they find in one another a special connection and relationship. The claustrophobic nature of the book with much of it taking place within the house intensifies the relationship between Conrad and Neomi. I also really did love the solution to the problem of a ghost and a vampire which I thought was clever and not just a convenient solution.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are significant appearances by prior couples from the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK NEEDS AT NIGHT’S EDGE is the fifth book in the Immortals After Dark series. The book can be read as a standalone but is much better when read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.