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 Game Makers 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. You can learn more about her and her work at KresleyCole.com or Facebook.com/KresleyCole. Sign up for Kresley’s email newsletter to receive the latest book release updates, as well as info about contests and giveaways (KresleyCole.com/Newsletter/).
“Munro, you daft git, pass the ball!” Garreth MacRieve yelled at his kinsman over the thunder and howling winds.
Tonight was their yearly skins-versus-demons rugby match—a tradition for Garreth and his clan, meant to take his mind from the anniversary this day marked. Garreth was barefooted, wearing only jeans and no shirt. Rain pounded in strengthening intervals, turning this abandoned grassy airstrip in bayou country into a mire of muck and turf. Sweat mingled with mud—and some blood.
He almost felt . . . not numb. And that in itself was a feat.
Munro flipped him off but did finally sling him the ball. The leather was coated in grit, mixing with the filth covering Garreth’s bared chest. He feinted left, then sprinted right around two colossal Ferine demons, shoving his hand in their faces, stiff-arming them.
As he ran, with his heart pounding in his ears, he could forget. The exertion and the aggression were both so welcome, he wanted to beat his bare chest.
The swift Ferines surrounded him, so he tossed the ball to Uilleam, Munro’s twin, who took it in to score. His brothers-in-arms were strong and ruthless contenders, as was he. The beasts inside them loved to fight, to play. Rough.
The demons responded to the goal with trash talk and shoving. Like a shot, Garreth was in the middle.
“You’re raring to fight for an heirless king,” Caliban, the Ferines’ leader, sneered. “Nothing new—you Lykae go through kings like I piss demon brew.”
Of all the sore subjects to bring up, Garreth’s kingship was the one most infuriating. And on this day?
He launched himself at Caliban, but Munro and Uilleam heaved him back. As other demons steered Caliban away from the scuffle, Munro said, “Save it for the game, friend.”
Garreth spat blood in Caliban’s direction before letting the two lead him away to cool off. While Uilleam and Munro stayed with him, the other Lykae on the team made their way to the sidelines to mingle with the “cheerleaders.”
The demons took the opportunity to take a timeout and drink demon brew. The only bad thing about playing with demons—one of the few species in the Lore that could contend with the Lykae in a physical contest—was their continual “brew breaks.” Only seemed fair that Garreth and his kinsmen shoot copious amounts of whiskey to mitigate their advantage. They swilled it straight from the bottle, each one with his own, the Lykae version of Gatorade.
Their cooler was full of fifths.
“You’ve got to let this go, Garreth,” Munro said, taking a deep drink.
Garreth swiped his hand over the back of his neck, getting the feeling that he was being watched. But then, he and all the other players were. Nymphs lined the field, oblivious to the rain, touching themselves and sucking on their own fingers as they impatiently waited for this game to turn into an orgy.
He irritably gazed at the females. “Why’d you invite them?” he demanded. “Damn you both, I weary of this. Did you never think that I doona like nymphs?”
“Nay,” Uilleam said with a swig. “Any being that sports a penis likes nymphs.”
Munro drained his bottle and added, “You canna argue with medical facts.”
Garreth knew Uilleam and Munro meant well, but this was getting old. “I doona like them. They’re too . . . too . . .”
“Easy,” Garreth said. “They’re too easy. For once I’d like to have a female give me a challenge. One that would no’ fall into bed with me because I’m supposedly a king.” When Munro opened his mouth to speak, Garreth said, “Aye, supposedly.”
Munro shook his head gravely. “And still you believe Lachlain will return.”
The three had been round and round about this for one and a half centuries, since the time his older brother had vanished after setting out to hunt vampires.
Uilleam and Munro told Garreth that he awaited Lachlain unreasonably. Best accept that his brother was gone, especially after so long had passed since his disappearance. One hundred and fifty years—to the day, this day. They said Garreth hadn’t moved on and accepted his responsibilities as king.
They were right.
“When will you believe he’s no’ coming back?” Uilleam asked. “Two hundred years from now? Five hundred?”
“Never. No’ if I still feel he’s alive.” Though vampires had killed the rest of his immediate family, for some reason, Garreth still sensed Lachlain lived. “No’ if I feel it as I do now.”
“You’re as bad off as Bowen,” Uilleam said, finishing his own bottle—and opening another.
Bowen was Garreth’s first cousin, a shell of a man since he’d lost his mate. He spent every waking moment in agony, yet he wouldn’t accept the loss and end his life as most Lykae males would have in his situation. “No’ like Bowen,” Garreth said. “He saw his mate gored, saw her death. I dinna see such proof with Lachlain.” No, I searched and searched and found . . . nothing.
“Game on!” a demon called.
Garreth shook himself from his memories, swigged whiskey, then mustered to the field with his kinsmen.
Caliban bared his fangs at his opponents, a gesture Garreth returned as the teams huddled up.
Quick snap. Ball in play. Passed to Caliban. Garreth saw his chance, charging for him, pumping his arms for speed . . . faster . . . faster . . . He leapt for the demon, tackling him with all his strength.
As they careened to the ground, a length of Caliban’s horn snapped off, and he bellowed with rage. “You’re going to pay for that, Lykae!”
For miles, Lucia the Huntress had been stalking her night’s prey, growing increasingly perplexed when the tracks she followed led her closer to what sounded like a battle, echoing with roars and curses.
Mayhem? Without inviting the Valkyrie? And in our territory, too? If beings were going to trespass in order to war, they should at least have the courtesy to invite the host faction to the conflict.
When she came upon the battlefield, Lucia canted her head to the side. Clash of the Loreans, she thought as she beheld modern gladiators—not at war, but at play. Immortal rugby.
Winds whipped along the mile-long field, and lightning flashed above them, mirroring the intensity of the contest. It was like a ceremony celebrating . . . maleness.
Lucia easily recognized the horned players as demons, and she suspected their shirtless opponents were Lykae. If so, then the rumors were true. The werewolves were in fact encroaching on Valkyrie territory. She was surprised. In the past, they’d kept to themselves, staying at their sprawling compound outside of the city.
Congregating at the sidelines, Nymph spectators trembled with excitement, likely seeing this as no more than a mud-wrestling match between brawny heartthrobs.
A ruthless hit on the field made Lucia raise a brow. Not at the violence—she was a shield maiden after all—but at the unthinking violence. Though these Loreans all trespassed, they were oblivious to an Archer in their midst, one who could inflict serious damage—very swiftly and from a great distance.
Levelheaded Lucia, as she was now known, didn’t comprehend unthinking. But then she didn’t comprehend men. Never had.
Luckily for them, the only violence she’d deliver this eve would be to her targets: two kobolds—vile gnomelike creatures—who’d been seen stalking human young to feed on.
Her sister Nïx, the half-mad Valkyrie soothsayer, had dispatched her to these bayous to dispose of them. Lucia had asked Regin to join her, but she’d declined, preferring to play video games in the comfort of their coven over another “rain-drenched bug hunt.”
Lucia had jumped at the chance. After donning a T-shirt and hiking shorts, she’d strapped on her leather thigh quiver, archer’s glove, and forearm guard. With her trusty bow in hand, she’d set out at once . . . .
Another brutal hit. She nearly winced at the impact from that one—a piece of horn skipped down the field like a lost helmet—but she wasn’t surprised. Lykae and demons were two of the most brutal species on earth.
Worse, one of those bare-chested males had caught Lucia’s attention. Completely. No matter how badly she wished otherwise, Lucia still noted attractive men, and as the teams skirmished, she couldn’t help but appreciate the power in his towering frame, his speed and agility. Though mud splattered his torso and a shadow of a beard swathed his lean face, she still found him handsome in a rough and tumble way.
His eyes were a burnished gold color with rakish laugh lines fanning out from them. At one time, he’d been happy; he clearly wasn’t now. Tension radiated from his body, anger blazing off him.
When those golden irises flickered a bright ice blue, she confirmed what he was. A Lykae. A werewolf.
An animal. His handsome face masked a beast, literally.
“You call that a hit, you bluidy ponce!” he yelled at one of the demons, the muscles in his neck and chest standing out in strain as he bowed up and bared his fangs. His accent was Scottish, but then most of the Lykae were Highlanders—or they used to be, before homesteading southern Louisiana. “Aye, Caliban! Go fook yerself!”
Others were drawing him back from a particularly large demon, seeming exasperated, as if the male had been picking fights all night. Probably had. The Lykae were considered a menace in the Lore, with little control over their ferocity. In fact, they seemed to revel in it.
One hundred percent unadulterated male, alpha to the core. And still he was making her . . . lust. As the game continued, Lucia waited for revulsion to drown out her attraction. And waited.
Yet with each pitiless blow the male gave—and took—and with each of his growled threats and taunts, it burned hotter. Her breaths shallowed and her small claws went from straight to curling, aching to clutch a warm body to her own.
But when she remembered the last time she’d felt like this, a chill swept over her. She dragged her gaze from his antics and surveyed the nymphs frolicking on the sidelines. Lucia had once been like them—hedonistic, serving no higher purpose.
Am I still to be like them? No, she was disciplined now; she had a code. I’m a Skathian—by right of pain and the blood I’ve spilled.
With a hard shake of her head, she forced herself to focus on her mission—dispatching the kobolds. To the naked eye, they appeared cherubic, but they were actually ground dwellers with reptilian features. And when their populations went unchecked they tended to snatch human young, which jeopardized all of Lorekind.
The pair had split up, one of them fleeing deeper into the swamps, while the other hid behind the wall of nymph spectators, assuming itself safe in this crowd.
Lucia absently fingered the flights of the barbed arrows strapped to her thigh and savored the comforting weight of her bow over her shoulder.
The latest installment of IAD did not disappoint. As always this series is best enjoyed in order as the plots of each book overlap the others. Lucia and Garreth's story move the overall plot along quite well. The secondary plot was fast moving and kept the attention. The passion between the two mains was sizzling but not as hot as others in the series. Garreth has that lovely Scot accent that is a joy to read but I did find it was a bit inconsistent throughout the book. Lucia was of course the usual strong defiant female looking to rid herself of the overprotective alpha male. The baddie in this one was a bit more gruesome than usual. Overall a super book I just could not put down.
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I got 3 books of this series waiting for Lover Mine to get published. They are all the same ! They are not bad, but the same : Male finds female that must be his and she either can't or won't. In this case if she gives herself to him, she will lose her powers ... You can guess what happens ! I liked the fact that they are in a boat surounded by animal creatures, and bad guys following ... that part of the book is really good (also there is someone which is male and female at the same time , I let you guess who it is ...)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Cole Provides Top Tier Paranormal RomanceMarch 26 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I would be surprised if there was anyone familiar with Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series who wouldn't agree that for the genre, it's firmly entrenched in the top tier of paranormal romance series. Cole is an exceptionally talented author with an immense imagination and stringent attention to detail who writes intricate, emotional, sensual stories that hold the readers attention and provide hours of delightful reading. All that being said, for various reasons I haven't loved EVERY book in the series, and Pleasure of a Dark Prince is one that I didn't love.
Lucia the Valkyrie is the Archer; the best in the world. The goddess of her religion both provides her skill and demands her chastity in return for saving her life when, as a willful child of sixteen, she made a mistake that dropped her into the clutches of an ancient evil. Garreth MacRieve is the dark prince, brother of the missing king of the Lykae Clan Lachlain MacRieve, and one of the few lykae who believe his brother is still alive. During a rugby match, Garreth catches the scent he's been hoping for nearly a millennium to smell, his mate. And so begins the dogged chase to catch, woo, and win the woman fate has determined is his destiny. The pursuit spans years and continents, and Garreth gives up everything to protect and pursue his lass, until he finally catches her at the mouth of the amazon river. He will brave the dangers of the green hell itself to keep her by his side and win her to his, but Lucia's secrets will haunt them both - and may lead to the destruction of everything and every one. Apocalypses are dangerous that way.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince is a good, solid read, but I had some issues with it on a personal level. I found the character-driven parts of the plot (the relationship aspect in particular) didn't mesh as well with the plot-driven parts (stuff dealing with The Accession and the entirety of the epilogue) as other books. I was a little thrown by the beginning of the book because it starts at a period back in time prior to, and then congruent with, the happenings in the first book of the series, A Hunger Like No Other. I know that this series has had several overlapping timelines in the books, but for some reason it bothered me more this time than it has in the past. This is not a critique, it's a personal issue - because I tend to be a very linear thinker, I have a problem with a series that doesn't follow a linear flow. I UNDERSTAND why IAD doesn't - and why, in fact, it can't, as the players of The Accession start to move into position - but it's still something I struggle with and it DID, in this case, lessen my overall enjoyment of this book. I also generally dislike when the main conflict between a male and female lead in a romance novel is based solely on lack of communication and dishonesty. Again - NOT a critique of Cole's choice to write it that way, but as a personal bugaboo, the absolute lack of honest communication between Garreth and Lucia through the whole of the book wore on me and made me feel like they were less interested in a relationship that would last through eternity and more interested in out-maneuvering each other to get the other to do what they wanted.
The other major issue I had was Lucia herself. I never fully warmed up to her. She had her good points, don't get me wrong, but I had a HUGE issue with her pride. I can understand being proud of yourself for accomplishments, and commend that sort of self esteem, but Lucia's skill with a bow was given to her by a goddess - she didn't EARN it - so the way she wields that ego around because of it rubbed me the wrong way. Now, that issue IS addressed satisfactorily late in the book, but that doesn't change the way she was from the first. I also found her to be a bit naive and selfish, which is what landed her in hot water to begin with, really, but after a few centuries, one would hope that would wear off a bit. It does eventually during this book, but again, it didn't sit well with me at first. And the cruelty she and Regin rained down on Garreth for a full year was a bit horrifying and left me wondering how he could possibly forgive her. I never felt I really got a satisfactory answer to that.
I firmly believe that the issues I had with Pleasure of a Dark Prince had nothing to do with the book not being great or Cole not writing well. Each issue I had was based on personal preference and I'm not criticizing, just sharing how I felt about it. I very much enjoyed the book as a whole, and found the entire Amazonian trip to be a lot of fun to read, with some VERY touching, funny, and gut-clenching moments. I would absolutely recommend the series (and have) to paranormal romance AND urban fantasy fans alike, as Cole writes story and characters I totally groove on. And Nucking Futs Nix is now and will always be one of my favorite characters of ALL times in ANY book over every genre.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
My my where's my dark prince?Feb. 15 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kresley Cole you are one of the few authors that do not disappoint (Crosses fingers no jinxing). Pleasure of a Dark Prince was truly a treat. And paperback too!
We have seen Lucia and Garreth since the first Immortal's After Dark installment. Last we heard from them Lucia was running from Garreth and he promised his brother Lachlain that he would have her back in two weeks. Now a year later Garreth is puzzeled and pissed that he's chased Lucia all over the world and now is in the Amazon (Green Hell) which he vowed never to return too. He wants some dang answers, luckily through meddling fingers (Futs Nucking Nix) he's on a boat with his mate, heehee she's stuck in the same cabin. What Garreth doesn't know is that Lucia has secrets, dark dangerous and shameful secrets that only Regin knows about. They are so dark and twisted that they constantly threaten to destroy her every ascension. With all her secrets and past between them, it seems unlikely that they will live to see Nix meddle to the point of goddesshood.
Wow, most series petter out after a few books. In fact the longest I was interested in a series was around 6-7 books. Kresley Cole's plot line is more in depth and more twisted with each installment. I find myself reading A Hunger Like No Other and thinking wow... that was actually a pretty simple plot line (hey I adored it no critique here) compared to the last few. I'm so happy. With that final epilogue Cole has us opening and closing the book again and again trying to make a 'sneak peak' or another chapter appear. Please continue to make wonderful characters, hot scenes, butt kicking females, confused males and give Lothaire a chance.... for me?
41 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Hot Werewolf and Valkyrie Romance that Burns the Pages (A- Grade)Feb. 15 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The ninth book in this series, Pleasures of a Dark Prince, is about Garreth MacRieve, the dark prince of the Lykae (werewolves) and Lucia the Huntress, a Valkyrie who is the world's most skilled archeress. Kresley has written another engaging a couple who may lust for each other until they ache, but makes sure the reader keeps in mind that attraction doesn't necessarily mean true love and that these two must get to know one another through communication and respect first.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince begins right before the events in the first book in this series, A Hunger Like No Other. Garreth, the current king of the Lykae, and his clan have come to reside in Louisiana. The half-mad Valkyrie soothsayer Nix sends Lucia on a mission to get rid of some pesky kobold demons that are also in the area. What Lucia doesn't know is that Garreth is her mate and he can scent her while he plays a rousing game of Rugby. He's been waiting a lifetime for her and when a Lykae finds their mate, they will stop at nothing until they claim them, which means the most intense mating experience ever. After Garreth witnesses Lucia's great archery techniques, he is both equally turned on and astounded. Now the chase is on, or rather Garreth will respectfully court her because he doesn't want to end up like another one of his Lykae clansmen, Bowen, (hero from Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, book 3) who is close to turning into a mindless feral beast.
Even though Lucia is very attracted to Garreth, especially because of his Scottish accent and the way he pronounces her name as Lousha, she can't be claimed or romanced by this wolf lothario. Lucia must remain chase because she sacrificed herself to the goddess Skathi who gave Lucia her archery skills after she was saved from a fate worse than death when she was sixteen. Lucia was the victim of Cruach, a very nasty and evil individual. As long as Lucia remains abstinent, she will be able to defend herself from Cruach, also know as the Broken Blood One, who rises every five hundred years during the Accession and searches for Lucia so he can claim her once again. If Lucia has sex, she'll lose her archery skills and will be vulnerable to an attack from Cruach.
Garreth has no clue about any of this and thinks if he can seduce Lucia, everything will be great and they can go off and create Lykae Valkyrie babies together. Garreth can't understand why Lucia doesn't want to be with him because he can sense her need and knows she enjoys the foreplay they have together. But she's weak when it comes to Garreth and if they keep playing the slap and tickle game, she'll be Cruach bait. She runs away and goes off to join the Accession games, and for a year Garreth is one step behind Lucia, tracking her, as well as protecting her.
As the games come to an end, Lucia is sick with worthy. Not only is she having horrible nightmares, which always happen whenever the Bloody Broken One is about to rise, but she still has to deal with Garreth. Nix has sent her to the Amazon where she may finally find a way to kill Cruach for good. She has to search for an arrow called a dieumort, which is the only weapon that can kill a creature like him. What she doesn't count on is Garreth finding her, climbing aboard her boat, and pretending to be her husband where he'll introduce her to even more heavy duty make out sessions. She just has to make sure she doesn't have sex with him and since he cares about her well being, he respects her wishes, but all for a specific price. Lucia and Garreth become unwilling partners and Garreth is beyond frustrated both in body and heart because Lucia keeps denying him and won't tell him her secrets.
Kresley is superb at building the tension between Garreth and Lucia in such a way you suffer along with both of them. Lucia gives Garreth a merry chase where he becomes a very different person by the end of this story. But the one thing Kresley makes very certain with Garreth is that he's a total gentleman. Even though Garreth is aching to claim Lucia, he doesn't go the whole distance when it comes to their love making. Even when Lucia begs him to take her, he won't. Nothing screams romance more than a hero who is willing to sacrifice his own pleasure for that of his one true love. These two have the most excellent foreplay scenes, and the first 50 pages or so will have you wanting to take a cold shower. And Garreth is quite the giver in every way even after Lucia shoots him with a few arrows. This is a man who is willing to get down on his knees for a small taste of Lucia's attention.
We are also given great insight into Lucia. She is one of the most subdued of all of Kresley's female characters and very loyal to her Valkyrie sisters. She is also close to being a tortured heroine because of her unfortunate past and the way she feels about herself. But, she refuses to be a victim although she thinks her only importance is because of her archery skills. It takes Garreth to show her that she doesn't have to stand all alone and can rely on him to help her.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince has everything you could want. Great action, luscious love making scenes and a few sneaky twists and turns you won't see coming. The ending alone will have you dying for the next book. I've also come to the realization that the character of Nix is possibly the most important one in this whole series. She is the one responsible for all of these character's destinies and uses them much like chess pieces on a board so she can reach her ultimate goal. Pay very close attention to whenever Nix pops up because it will give you insight on what is in store for her.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince is yet another winner where I bow down to the masterful storytelling of Kresley Cole.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Mediocre Romance; Very Annoying Leading LadyMarch 8 2010
Baroness of Topaz
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a lykae fanatic, I loved Garreth since he first appeared in A Hunger Like No Other. His character lived up to every standard I want in the alpha male - possessive, passionate, and self-sacrificing. I cannot say the same for the female lead, Lucia. She seemed indecisive, ambivalent, unyielding, not someone I would want to be friends with. Garreth continually risked his life for Lucia but instead of confiding of her terrible first sexual experience, she threw his devotion and sacrifice back in his face and put him through hell.
The unrequited sexual tension got old after a while, the foreplay between the two was more like a game of gotcha, not at all sexy or exciting. This noble prince desserved so much better than the Valkyrie shrew.
Maybe the problem with this coupling, just like Bowen/Mariketa's, is stated in the book...when you mate beings who are "Other", the conflicts and differences present obstacles that prevent the pair from exuding chemistry. Lachlain and Emma were the exception because they both sacrificed for each other and their chemistry was smoking hot. Garreth/Lucia pairing seemed forced.
I was waiting eagerly for this book because I was hoping it would restore my enthusiasm for IAD series. However, I must bide adieu to this series and this author because this book was the final let down. I will always be thankful for the brilliant "A Hunger Like No Other", unfortunately, none of her subsequent IAD books made me hunger for more.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.5 stars - Very hot, but the romance was just okay for me this timeApril 1 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Plot Summary: Lucia is a Valkyrie, and amongst the Lore she is known simply as "The Archer." Lucia's prowess with a bow is her supreme talent and only interest in life. A chance encounter with the Lykae sets Prince Garreth MacRieve on her tail, because after just one whiff he knew that she was his mate for life. No one knows that Lucia's archery gift is conditional... the goddess who saved her life demands her chastity. Lucia does not share this information with Garreth, and so begins a protracted game of chase, with evil bad guys on Lucia's trail.
The heat was on, but the romance wasn't doing it for me. I had a good time reading "Pleasure of a Dark Prince" by Kresley Cole, but it was far from my favorite installment in the series. Ms. Cole is still one of the queens of hot paranormal romances where the couple is fated by destiny to be together. I know some readers scoff at that concept, and that's fine, but I do enjoy it every now and then. I'll call it 3.5 stars.
The book itself was a little confusing because the timeline is split across the series. The first half of the book runs parallel to the events in the first book, A Hunger Like No Other (The Immortals After Dark Series, Book 1), and then it jumps forward one year. The supernatural details in the Immortals After Dark series has always impressed me (the glossary is a nice touch), but this time around some new creatures were introduced in a clumsy way. It was almost like Ms. Cole was trying to stuff in mentions here and there for future books, but for me this groundwork just muddled up the main story.
The couple was harder to like than usual. In these stories the men carry the burden of being completely single-minded about possessing the female, so the emotional connection often rests with the heroine. In this case Lucia was as cold as a block of ice, and Garreth was miserable (with just cause). There's playing hard to get, and then there's this story. So no, I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. The next book in this series is Demon from the Dark, releasing on August 24, 2010.