My Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
Lachlain MacRieve is a Werewolf, leader of the Lykae Clan, and for the last few centuries he has been chained to a rock deep under the city of Paris and repeatedly brought to the point of death by the fires of hell, as a prisoner of the evil Vampires. Then, one day, he catches the scent that he has been searching for during the thousand years of his long life: the scent of the woman destined to be his Mate. Fearing that he will never find her again, he struggles to free himself, eventually tearing off one of his own legs to break free of his chains, so that he can follow her scent and possess her. However, when he finds her she is a Vampire. How can his Mate be one of the very race that has spent so long trying to kill him?
Emmaline Troy is an unusual combination: half Valkyrie and half Vampire. Both her parents are dead and she has been raised by her highly dangerous Valkyrie aunts. Although she needs blood to survive, she has been raised not to kill, but to drink only donated blood from a glass. She is happy with her aunts, however the identity of her father remains a mystery, so she has travelled from the coven’s home in New Orleans to Paris in search of information about him. What she did not expect was to be claimed as Mate by a crazy Werewolf who kidnaps her and then drags her off to his castle in Scotland. As they spend more time together she comes to enjoy his sexual attentions and starts to wonder if she can become the warrior woman that he needs and deserves as his Mate.
It makes a very nice change to read an urban fantasy that does not simply rely upon the same old Vamp-Were clichés. One of the best aspects about the world that Ms Cole creates is her use of the Valkyries. They are wonderfully funny characters, suitably ‘other’, but with an obsession with shiny gifts and a remorseless protectiveness of young Emmaline, who is only seventy years old. It is also good to see some conflict even within the Vampire race itself due to differences in ideology. Although we do not see much of the constant war between the various sworn enemies, there is a lot of potential for the future novels in the series. Plus, we have the arrival of the Ascension, a cyclic event that brings the races together in mass warfare as they struggle for survival every five hundred years or so. As Love Vampires points out, there are plenty of other mythological creatures mentioned, so the possibilities for the later books are almost endless.
The main characters are sympathetic and interesting enough to keep us engaged with them and their journey, although Lachlain’s behavior may be a little difficult for some people. Due to the years of searching for his Mate and then the endless cycle of near death and regeneration he is more than a little tactless in his pursuit of Emmaline. He is so blinded by his own needs that he verges perilously close to rape and sexual assault as his animal urges overwhelm his more reasoning side. This is only compounded by the fact that Emmaline is a very inexperienced virgin, who has been sheltered by aunts that would tear the limbs off any man who looked at her sideways. This makes the ‘seduction’ aspects at the beginning of the book somewhat non-consensual and, therefore, difficult to read. Although, intellectually, I know that Lachlain is not a raping monster, it is still difficult to read Emmaline’s reactions to his actions, and I am always going to struggle with the concept that a woman can be won over by forced sexual attention. Having said that, just like Chelsea at Vampire Book Club, it did not bother me enough that I failed to finish the book, nor will it stop me from reading more in the series.
Thea at The Book Smugglers found the book lacking in most aspects and was especially scathing about the stereotypical possessive male and fluffy damsel in distress, which I think may be oversimplifying the characters. However, I do have to agree with her criticisms of Lachlain’s Scottish accent: I lived in Northern Scotland for twenty years, and the attempts to depict the accent did make me cringe as well. It seems that Ms Cole's earlier novels were in the genre of Historical Romance, which might explain the 'bodice-ripper' overtones seen here, but her paranormal world is more than interesting enough to keep me entertained at the moment.