All three of the Smut Reporters read A Hunger Like No Other. Erin and Ingrid loved it, but Holly was a little meh on the whole thing. Which means it’s time for a Dueling Review!
Immortals After Dark, Book 1
Let’s start by each giving our metric for rating the book:
Heat Factor: There was a point I told my husband to stop talking to me because I was in the middle of some hot, bitey werewolf/vampire sex
Character Chemistry: For the first few chapters I was extremely concerned by his anger and her cluelessness, but they turned it around.
Plot: Innocent, sheltered vampire tames powerful, fierce werewolf
Overall: Hahaha, Yaaaaaaas!
Heat Factor: Never accept a blow job from a vampire.
Character Chemistry: “I hate you! But you’re my mate! I am so confused!”
Plot: Uh, all the magical creatures are being forced into confrontation so that they can kill each other off. And that means that this werewolf finally finds his mate and she’s a vampire and he hates vampires. And that’s just chapter 1!
Overall: This book was well-executed, but epic paranormal romances are so not my jam.
Heat Factor: I really can’t deny the steam factor in this one.
Character Chemistry: It went from “Omg these guys need therapy. Separately.” to “They’re going to have 10 babies and I love it so much” in pages. PAGES.
Plot: Ok, well…she’s really green about the fangs and he’s got some centuries of torture issues going on and then they turn it all around and heads come off and furniture gets broken but like, in a hot way.
Overall: I had a few spots where I was like, oh no I don’t know if this is going to work, but then it was extremely diverting and I ended up really liking it.
Since it’s Fated Mates week here at The Smut Report, how well do you think this book works as a fated mates story?
Erin: I like that they have to work for it because he smells that she’s his mate but she doesn’t have the same connection. Though Vampires have brides, so you’d think her vampire side would have some mate thing going on, but I guess the Valkyrie side not having it wins out? Anyway, the fact that they’re not both fated mates makes the execution of the relationship more interesting.
Ingrid: It’s interesting that they’d have different types of paranormal people with different mating habits? So I liked that there was some built in skepticism that really helped build nuance and plot complications.
What was fun about Cole’s version of paranormal world-building?
Holly: There are a lot of creatures running around. And they all have their own unique characteristics, which means the alliances and conflicts between the different groups can get really complicated. But Cole builds this up slowly, so there’s no data dump, but also a ton of potential for untold stories yet to come. Which is extra exciting in the first book in a 15ish book series!
Ingrid: It sure seemed like no one is “good” and no one is “bad”. I sincerely liked that, because it felt like it probably took a lot more effort to build it out but the results were more complex and satisfying.
Erin: What they said.
Was there anything you didn’t enjoy about Cole’s world-building?
Holly: Because there was no data dump on the characteristics of paranormal creatures, sometimes characters did things that were stupid or enraging that seemed out of character and Cole could hand-wave it away because “that’s what x’s do.”
For example: Emma wants to leave Lachlan and go home, instead of road tripping all the way to Scotland. Lachlan is like, “If you come with me, I’ll give you some jewelry.” Emma is like, “JEWELRY?!? Ok, cool. Please keep kidnapping me.” Explanation: Emma is part Valkyrie, and Valkyries are apparently acquisitive, so of course she wants some shiny things. I read this as a variation of “bitches be shopping,” which, as previously documented, I hate for portraying all women as wanting shiny stuff, and exploded in a fit of rage.
Ingrid: It kind of felt like it was the second book in the series. I couldn’t tell if that was in part because all the characters knew everything about each other’s magic so I ended up feeling out of the loop or if there were actual gaps though. `
Let’s talk about the dichotomy of innocence / evil, and how Cole plays with these ideas with her characters:
Erin: I think if I didn’t find it amusing, the degree of innocence going on with Emma would gross me out. She’s fair, blonde, and small. She’s treated like a child by her family, so she’s overprotected and underestimated, and she’s allowed herself to stay in the box. She’s a virgin who’s never had an orgasm. She’s so peaceful she cries when she accidentally catches a moth by the wings. And yet it’s her destiny to vanquish evil. By contrast, evil is more spread out, I’d say. Lachlain, with his darker brunet appearance and aggressive behavior, is the physical iteration. The Valkyries with their violent, warlike behavior and their emotional electrical storms are like a quiescent evil, existing but not active. And of course the Vampire Horde is super evil, with its sociopathic leader and all-pervasive presence, greed, murdering, non-consensual blood drinking, and a bit of madness from taking on the memories of the blood donors. And yet the Horde’s king is also a beautiful, fair, blond man, so we don’t get the visual representation of evil with it. Frankly, the representations of evil are a bit more interesting than the innocence. As they so often are.
Holly: So this was my question, and I was thinking specifically about Emma when I wrote this. And she is both supremely innocent (she’s a 70 year old virgin who has never even had an orgasm!) and also supremely sexy (she wears nothing but red velvet thongs and corsets!) (sidenote: the cover art is very accurate here) and also symbolic of supreme evil (she’s a friggin’ vampire!).
Ingrid: It’s strange to me that Emma’s “innocence” is so fiercely guarded and protected when she’s actually so powerful. I did appreciate that she came into her own power independently—but sometimes she didn’t feel as fully developed as a character as the hero which was disappointing because she had a lot of complexities on the surface.
Did the whole “WE MUST GO TO WAR” subplot work for you?
Holly: Erin was texting me and Ingrid when she first read this book, being like, why are the Valkyries declaring war on the werewolves just because Lachlan claimed Emma as his mate, and Ingrid and I were both like, “Yup, that checks out, of course they would be pissed at the kidnapping.” (Before reading the book.) The whole cosmic balance of the immortals seemed a little forced to me though – like, these batshit crazy creatures would probably battle for dominance regardless of a cosmic cycle? If nothing else, because they were bored after living for hundreds of years and had already mastered all their hobbies.
Erin: I like the Accession because it creates a conflict that is unique to the current happenings and changes life for the characters but is also out of their control. So it makes me less likely to get ragey about them making bad decisions maybe? On the other hand, you’d think that creatures who have had thousands of years to interact with each other might, once in those years, have considered a wee chat and realized that they’re all incredibly biased against each other and maybe they should have a confab to, like, start a peace movement or something. And yeah, even reading this book a second time to prep for this post, I still got incredibly annoyed that the Valkyries threw down without ever talking to Emma about what she wanted…mostly because they’re constantly operating from a place where she’s too young and stupid to make good decisions for herself. So maybe I don’t actually get less annoyed by the explanation of a great cosmic struggle.
Ingrid: Ok but it DIDN’T HAPPEN?!?! So like, I kept preparing myself for something and it didn’t come and I was so thrown off by that.
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