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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

3,000-Year-Old Vampire King + Teenage Hillbilly = Comic Genius

Lothaire (Immortals After Dark, #12) - Kresley Cole

I haven't read any of the rest of the Immortals After Dark series, and probably won't (at least not soon), because paranormal romance/urban fantasy is something I only like in small doses. That said, I liked Lothaire fairly well.


Synopsis: Lothaire is a 3,000 year old born (not turned) vampire with ambitions to rule not one but two vampire races: the Daci, a throne to which he is heir through his poor, martyred mama; and the Horde, a throne to which he aspires through his father, though Lothaire is illegitimate and thus the Horde will not accept his rule without a fight. Ellie is a 19-year-old hillbilly from Appalachia who has to drop out of college (where she'd have been the first of her family to graduate) when she becomes possessed by Saroya, a murderous soul-reaping ex-deity who has lost her own body through a curse and thus must live by possessing others. Ellie and Saroya fight for primacy, each surfacing when the other doesn't wish, and each having no consciousness of what the other does while in control. (Saroya enjoys wreaking murder and mayhem, and then retreating in time to let Ellie deal with the bloodbath; Ellie enjoys sex, and then retreating in time to disgust the frigid Saroya with the earthy aftermath.)


Lothaire is told by an oracle where and when to find his Bride, and so he goes to Appalachia and finds Ellie/Saroya. The encounter begins the Blooding (the mating process), but Lothaire doesn't know whether his fated mate is Ellie or Saroya. Due to his hatred of mortals (neatly explained in the tragic prologue), Lothaire proudly assumes his Bride must be Saroya (because fate wouldn't be so cruel as to pair a wealthy, powerful, urbane, sophisticated Vampire king with a teenage hillbilly who lives in a trailer and speaks in a hick accent), and he makes an unbreakable vow to help Saroya evict and destroy Ellie's soul so Saroya can keep her body forever. (Yeah, anytime you see "unbreakable vow," you just know someone's going to come to regret that, right?) Sure enough, the more he gets to know Ellie, the better he likes her, and the less he likes Saroya, until finally he realizes his mistake.


The Good: Lothaire and Ellie are such a fantastically mismatched pair, but they work! Especially Ellie. Ellie is a hillbilly, but she's not stupid. Everyone always underestimates her, and she uses that to her advantage. As she puts it, she is "the sucker punch you never saw coming." Lothaire's character arc -- from his prejudice against Ellie and all mortals to his eventual choice of and commitment to her -- is slow in coming but so satisfying. And the sex is hot (though the early scenes skirt the very edge of rapey-ness because Lothaire is so powerful and Ellie basically has to seduce him in order to have any hope of survival, the ickiness of which is only sort of overcome because Ellie really does enjoy what she's doing). Cole's writing is funny, especially her dialogue: Lothaire and Ellie (and some of the other characters) get some hilarious one-liners.


The Not-So-Good: The aforementioned uneven power dynamic between Lothaire and Ellie: in addition to injecting an uncomfortable level of coercion into their early sexual encounters, the bottom line is that Lothaire does some really unforgivable things to Ellie, and though she does forgive him (sort of), it doesn't sit well with this Gentle Reader. Also, I found that the plot seemed kind of bogged down in summarizing back story from previous books in the series or setting up for sequels. I found all that distracting and also felt it made the book too long, but maybe that's just because I haven't read the rest of the series.