Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review of SHADOW'S CLAIM by Kresley Cole

Shadow's Claim

(Immortals After Dark: The Dacians, #1)
by Kresley Cole

Shadow's Claim by Kresley Cole, cover image
Rating: 4.5♥s Excellent/Highly Recommended
Sensuality: HOT!
Humor: Subtle
Hankies: One
Cover: 4.5♥s

Release date: November 27, 2012
Mass Market Paperback
Kindle Edition
Audio Book

From the Publisher:

Shadow’s Claim features Prince Trehan, a ruthless master assassin who will do anything to possess Bettina, his beautiful sorceress mate, even compete for her hand in a blood-sport tournament— to the death.

Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, has spent his life serving his people—striking in the night, quietly executing any threat to their realm. The coldly disciplined swordsman has never desired anything for himself—until he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore’s most fearsome villains.

Desperate to earn her guardians’ approval after a life-shattering mistake, young Bettina has no choice but to marry whichever suitor prevails—even though she’s lost her heart to another. Yet one lethal competitor, a mysterious cloaked swordsman, invades her dreams, tempting her with forbidden pleasure.

Even if Trehan can survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife, the true battle for Bettina’s heart is yet to come. And unleashing a millennium’s worth of savage need will either frighten his Bride away—or stoke Bettina’s own desires to a fever pitch. . . .

That's the spiel from the publisher, but what really happens in the story? I'll try to give you the set-up without spoilers.

Bettina, the future queen of the plane of Abaddon, survives a vicious attack by enemies. To appease her godparents, she agrees to marry the winner of a blood-sport tournament of suitors--an elimination match to the death. But her heart really belongs to Caspion, her childhood friend.

Trehan Daciano, the "Prince of Shadows" and a vampire, is a merciless assassin from the Realm of Blood and Shadows. Anyone who enters the secretive Realm is forbidden to leave. Trehan's task is to assassinate those who escape. Caspion entered the Realm and sneaked out, and Daciano is after him. Daciano himself is allowed to leave and return--unless he is seen.

After tracking Caspion to Abaddon, he gets mysteriously drawn to Bettina. He discovers that she is his Bride. She "bloods" him, which means that his heart starts beating, his lungs start breathing, and his … manly bits start working again. Although he lusts after Bettina (it's been one thousand years, after all), she also fascinates him. He brings her to life in more ways than one. He wants to win her over and claim her as his Bride, but Caspion and Trehan's need to assassinate him stand between them.

Trehan leaves his entire life--and his chance at the crown of the Realm of Blood and Mist--behind by showing himself at the tournament and entering the contest for Bettina's hand. But Caspion does, too. And only one can survive.

Kresley Cole has done it again. She's written a sexy, suspenseful, action-packed page-turner with characters you'll love, subtle humor that will have you snickering, and dark moments that will kick you in the gut. You'll be sorry to read "The End" (so to speak).

What I love about Trehan is that he truly appreciated Bettina as a person, and not just as his fated Bride. I also love that he isn't perfect--at times he is even unsure of himself in spite of being a strong, decisive Alpha male. Bettina turns his world upside-down, and he doesn't know how to handle it.

Bettina has the best humorous inner dialog and lines. Watch for the subtle humor and inside jokes. Bettina doesn't have it easy, however. She has a long, difficult journey as she learns a number of lessons about life and the nature of love.

Shadow's Claim takes place in the Immortals After Dark universe. In the timeline, it runs roughly parallel to Lothaire (Lothaire gets 4.5♥s, and 5.0♥s for its sexy cover!). The events in Lothaire affect Trehan, as the Dacians affected events in Lothaire. We also see behind the scenes of those events. And why Trehan was so brooding in Lothaire.

As a nod to fans, Cole includes cameo appearances in Shadow's Claim from some favorite Immortals After Dark characters. It would be a spoiler to name them. You'll just have to enjoy finding out for yourself.

MacRieve (Immortals After Dark, #13) has a brief set-up in Shadow's Claim. Judging by the topics of conversation, I believe that Immortals After Dark #14 does also. As of this writing, The Dacians #2 hasn't been announced. But I look forward to it!

Happy reading!

Read a USA Today interview with Kresley Cole in which she discusses Lothaire, Shadow's Claim and MacRieve here.

Read the entire Immortals After Dark series:
Novella 1
The Warlord
Wants Forever

Not Reviewed
Book 2
A Hunger Like
No Other

Book 3
No Rest For
The Wicked

Book 4
Wicked Deeds on
a Winter's Night

Book 5
Dark Needs at
Night's Edge

Book 6
Dark Desires
After Dusk

Book 7
Kiss of a
Demon King

Novella 8
in Deep Kiss of Winter

Not Reviewed
Book 9
Pleasure of a
Dark Prince

Book 9
Demon from the Dark

Book 11
Dreams of a Dark
Book 12


Book 12.5
The Dacians, #1
Shadow's Claim

Book 13

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