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.