Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals After Dark paranormal series and the young adult series The Arcana Chronicles. Her books have been translated into many foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists in the US and abroad. Visit her at KresleyCole.com and TheArcanaChronicles.com.
Declan Chase eased his Humvee down a winding bayou drive leading to Val Hall, the estate where a notorious coven of Valkyrie lived.
My target will be within.
Regin the Radiant.
Though his head was splitting from lack of sleep and his usual tension plagued him, he felt a measure of excitement about his mission. Ever since he’d received her dossier two weeks ago, Declan had been impatient to seize this female.
Perhaps because no other magister had ever captured a Valkyrie?
Yet he reminded himself that tonight’s target would be merely another capture, yet another prisoner he delivered to the Order—the mortal army to which he’d pledged his life.
When he spied lightning in the distance, he pulled off into the thick brush, deep enough to conceal his truck. After turning off the ignition, he readied for the night with a swift efficiency born of years of combat.
He strapped his sword to his side, then checked the pistols in his dual holster and the extra cartridges in his dark flak jacket. More cartridges filled the pockets of his camo pants. He was well aware that a gun couldn’t kill an immortal, but an armor-piercing round between the eyes at close range could bring one to the ground.
He opened a briefcase filled with sensitive electronics, retrieving a minuscule GPS beacon/listening device. After carefully stowing the bug in another pocket, he tested his radio earpiece.
Despite the lateness of the hour, the bayou heat was intense, assailing the truck’s cab. With the jacket, his customary gloves and high-necked shirt, he began to sweat. Drops of perspiration trickled down his chest, over the countless scars covering his torso.
His never-ending reminders of a time spent in hell . . . .
Tamping down those memories, he focused on the mission. Tonight’s was one of only two remaining. Then he could return to his island, to his sanctum. To my medicine . . .
With that thought in mind, he stepped out into the humid air, then began jogging along the dirt driveway.
Under a canopy of oaks, he ran through muddy ruts until he reached the estate’s opened entranceway: a pair of battered stone columns, each with a rusted gate clinging by a hinge.
He turned a corner and slowed, taken aback by the sight before him.
The Valkyrie’s antebellum mansion was draped in a dense fog that didn’t stir, not even with the breeze. Lightning struck all around the building; the grounds bristled with metal lightning rods. Spectral wraiths flew around the manor, defending it against intruders.
An incongruous row of luxury cars lined the drive. Inside, loud music boomed and raucous women’s laughter sounded. Intermittent Valkyrie shrieks pierced the night.
So this was where Regin the Radiant lived.
Though the Order possessed much information about other species of immortals—such as the vampires and demons—they had acquired only basic facts about her kind.
Valkyrie had little need for sleep and didn’t eat or drink, instead taking nourishment from some unknown mystical source. Though they varied in looks and abilities, they all possessed superhuman strength, speed, and regenerative powers.
Declan knew of only one way to destroy her kind: beheading.
The Order had garnered a few specific details about Regin. History: Thought to be over one millennium in age. Description: Five foot three, slight build with small claws and fangs. Pointed ears. Waist-length blond hair and amber eyes.
But her most notable feature was her skin. She’d been named the Radiant One because she purportedly had skin that glowed.
The file had contained no clear photos of her. The exposure would show only a bright light where she was supposed to be.
Glowing skin. Another freak of nature. Yet she went out freely among civilians.
She customarily wore two short swords crisscrossed over her back—even in public—and was rumored to be an exceptional swordswoman.
That skill wouldn’t save her tonight.
If Declan had been put in charge of this immortal’s capture, then she was a priority to the Order. He’d never failed to bring in a target. He had backup troops awaiting in the city, ready to mobilize in an instant.
Initially, he’d considered storming this place, inflicting as much damage and destruction as possible. But there were other Valkyrie inside, and though their species was uniformly female, they were among the strongest and most vicious in the Lore.
Regin might be slight, but she could likely lift a car by herself.
To bring in a team would risk his soldiers’ lives unnecessarily, and he’d already lost men at a recent capture. A powerful, older vampire had put up a fight as few others ever had.
Plus, Declan had no idea how to battle those wraiths guarding the house. No, he’d wait until Regin the Radiant was separated from her kindred. Then he’d strike.
He approached the row of cars, pulling the bug from his jacket. Determining which one was hers proved simple enough. The RegRad license plate on a red Aston Martin was a dead giveaway.
The field notes in his dossier had described her as ostentatious, prone to flaunting her uniqueness in public. No wonder she’d been targeted. One of the Order’s objectives was to prevent civilians from ever discovering the deathless beings living in their midst.
He eased open the door and affixed the bug under the driver’s side headrest. After testing the sound with his earpiece, he gingerly shut the door and turned to leave—
Out of the corner of his eye, he spied a light, turned to it.
Through one of the mansion’s front windows, he spotted her, or at least the radiance she emanated.
She does truly glow . . . .
He silently moved in, camouflaged behind a tree about two hundred feet from the front porch. He couldn’t see her face, but from the back, her figure was curvaceous. She wore a pair of indecently low-cut hip-hugger jeans and a cropped red T-shirt that revealed her midriff.
Indeed, two swords in black leather sheaths crisscrossed her back.
Her blond hair cascaded all the way to her waist, except where it was braided into haphazard plaits that jutted out all over the top and sides of her head.
Declan suspected she would be as attractive from the front; Lorean females often were. He detested all immortals but especially the females. They used their seductive looks as a weapon, a tool to rob mortal men of their senses.
They will separate you from your purpose, lure you to your doom. How many times had his superior told him that?
A row of bushes between him and the house rustled. Another enemy lying in wait? The Valkyrie had plenty of adversaries. And they had no idea danger lurked so close—
The front doors burst open; a woman stormed outside.
He released a sharp breath.
Those wild braids held her hair back from her face, revealing all her delicate features. Her cheekbones were high and defined, her nose pert. Blond brows drew together over her vivid amber eyes, and her full lips were parted.
She radiated a pure golden light.
A feeling of recognition swept over him. At once, the near crippling tension he’d endured for decades began to ebb. Why? How?
She wasn’t the first unearthly beauty they’d tracked—the Order’s island compound was filled with them—so he would’ve thought himself prepared for her comeliness. But he feared she might be the most beautiful.
At least to me.
“Make a hole, bitches!” she yelled to the wraiths, tossing one of them . . . a braid of hair? When the red-robed beings parted, she strode down the steps, her thick-heeled boots clicking.
Out on the lawn, she stopped and cocked her head, drawing those swords with a lethal grace. One of her pointed ears was visible and clearly twitching as she scanned the night. She would see Declan . . . would sense him.
He was about to slip back when the bushes nearby rustled once more.
Without a second’s thought she dove into them, pouncing on whatever skulked there. A moment later, a ghoul’s severed head came flying out. When she bounded from the shrubs, her swords were already sheathed and twigs protruded from those haphazard braids. She reached up, felt them, then left them there with a shrug.
When a trio of other women staggered out onto the front porch, Regin held up the head and made an exaggerated curtsy. They cheered drunkenly. Witches, no doubt. They were the Valkyrie’s allies and notorious drunks.
One laughed, tripped over her own feet into a pratfall, then laughed again.
Regin turned back to face his direction. With her skin glowing brighter and her expression animated, she punted the ghoul’s head like a football, then shaded her eyes melodramatically. As it sailed far above him toward a nearby swamp, she cried, “It. Might. Go. All. The . . . . Way!”
She cannot be one thousand years old.
The witches cheered again.
That task completed, she plucked a sat-phone from a holster on her belt. She texted something, her fingers so fast they were a blur, then strolled over to her car and hopped inside. The engine purred when she started it. She pulled up in front of the house, honking...
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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 IAD books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.
Cole lives in Florida with her family and "far too many animals." You can learn more about her and her work at www.kresleycole.com or www.facebook.com/KresleyCole
Beware... spoilers if you haven't read the past 8 books...
Let me get it out of the way and say that Dreams of a Dark Warrior (book #9) was amazing. Although I did enjoy Demon from the Dark a smidgen more, this is another fabulous addition to Kresley Cole's very addicting Immortals After Dark series. Many of her fans have been waiting for the match-up between Regin the Radiant, the glowing, loud-mouth Valkyrie, and her soul mate, Aidan the Fierce, the berserker who's reincarnated time and again to find Regin, but it never ends happily for them. Aidan always ends up dead, and Regin spends another few hundred years waiting for the next reincarnation of Aidan to start the whole cycle again. Regin feels both she and Aidan are cursed, never to be together and to suffer alone.
Dreams of a Dark Warrior starts with how Regin and Aidan first met. Regin was only twelve at the time, searching for her beloved, missing sister Lucia. Aidan quickly realizes that Regin is his mate and will wait for her to grow up so he can claim her. But these two lovers can't consummate their relationship. Since Regin is an immortal and Aidan isn't, he must try to earn his immortality called Ohalla by winning two hundred battles in Woden's name. Woden is a god and Regin is one of his daughters. Unfortunately Aidan jumps the gun because he can't control his passion for Regin and the curse between these two unfortunate lovers is engaged.
Now in present day, Regin is waiting for the next Aidan reincarnation. But this time she'll deny him to keep him alive and stop from doing two things with him that always leads to his death once they're acted upon.Read more ›
Other reviews summarize the plot, which greatly overlaps another Immortals After Dark book anyway, so let's get down to business.
Regin's Romance: This was a true 0 star romance for me. Declan Chase is just one of the most reprehensible characters I have ever read about! His real life equivalent is that of a Nazi war criminal (no exaggeration), and Regin and him basically "fall in love" in a concentration camp where Chase is torturing and killing men, women and children(!) like Regin. I could not see a single reason why Regin supposedly fell in love with him! Yes, Chase is the re-incarnation of Aidan the Fierce, but he only exhibits the hate and pain that Aidan allegedly had (that was never shown) AND as it turns out, Regin never really loved Aidan anyway and never fully gave him her heart. So, the fact that Chase was the re-incarnate of Aidan is irrelevant romance-wise, which makes the build-up to this romance in past books, a total letdown and makes Regin's feelings for Chase that much less believable and less compelling.
I feel that Regin's characterization was changed for this romance. She went from being a kickass, Valkyrie warrior to a weak female who would literally do *anything* to get her man. She quickly forgave all the atrocities that Chase committed against her and all Loreans and even apologized to him at one point! In order to keep Chase from dying due to this re-incarnation curse, she really went over the top in a way that I did not buy at all! I hate to even write about it. As it turns out, maybe all that was unnecessary, because the re-incarnation curse just fizzled out anyway.Read more ›
So when I read book 8 (Demon from the Dark) I cried when I read what happened to Regin ... her glow dimmed, vivisected, AND staples ... I actually teared up because she is one of my favorite characters in the series. Reading book 9 was pretty horrific to say the least. Yes, you got to meet more characters and learn more about Lothaire(whom I've come to love because of his dry sarcastic humor), BUT Declan was brutal and just straight up evil. I was so taken aback by this. I couldn't believe that Aidan the Fierce came back purely evil and tortured so many Loreans. THEN he couldn't even come back as Aidan, but this evil jerk! The romance was rushed in my opinion. And pretty much the same as the other books. The chick fights his attentions off, but SOMEHOW falls in love with the sight of his body yada yada yada. But I digress And I don't think the plot was strong enough when Declan was starting to become, for lack of a better word, "nice". Also, I wanted to see more of the halfling, Thad. Meaning I wanted to see him fight! I know he was only 17, but he shoulda had a chance to do something.
So another part of the book that I am getting tired of that other readers pointed out is the repetitive-ness. I like that all of the stories are intertwined, but I don't like that she keeps repeating information. Half the book is about information we already know. There should be a note in the front that says "READ THE SERIES FROM THE BEGINNING"... it would just make it so much easier.
Just to throw this out there - I love Kresley Cole. I think she is an amazing author and I definitely love this series. I am always anticipating her next book.
Also, I know I am spelling names wrong. Bare with me.
Anyways, I am looking forward to Lothaire's story.Read more ›