Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm rounding my rating up on this one, because I loved the Kresley Cole story enough on its own for five stars. The Gena Showalter story was a fairly solid four stars.
First of all, lets talk about how awesome "Untouchable" was. I liked Murdoch before I read this story, because the Wroth brother are four times hot! But, I didn't love him as much as Nikolai (swoon), Conrad (thud), and Sebastian (sigh). I'm not fond of womanizers. But somehow, I fell in love with Murdoch. I could see that his fear of giving himself away and losing himself in love with a woman was the reason why he was so love 'em and leave 'em. Truth be told, I don't think he really broke any hearts. He found woman who just wanted sex and he made sure he gave them what they wanted very well. I don't know that he held any more fondness for them than they did for him. As always, Kresley Cole does the devoted male very well. This Wroth courtship was very different in that Murdoch didn't want to be Blooded. He was rather unhappy with the fact that Daniela was his Bride, and she had brought his body back to life. This story is a good metaphor for the relationships that some women face with the reluctant bachelor, who doesn't want to give up his freedom, out of fear that he's going to miss out on something. Murdoch had to go through the process of realizing that he might no longer be fancy free, but he had found the love of his life, and he would have been miserable without her--she made his life better, just by being in it. Daniela also had her issues. Because of her Icere heritage, she couldn't be touched by anyone. She'd spent two thousand years of celibacy, as a chaste (other than self-pleasure) virgin, seeing her Valkyrie sisters have their love affairs and live a full life, while she felt she was on the shelf. When she meets Murdoch and realizes she is his Bride, she's willing to give him a chance. At times, I felt bad for Daniela. She really put herself out there to be hurt by Murdooch, and he did hurt her more than a few times. Yet, at the same time, he did care about her and tried to do right by her. He is probably the most like a real guy out of the heroes I've read about in paranormal romance. Not to pigeonhole men, but he had a lot of the fears and insecurities of a modern guy in relationships, instead of the slavish devotion and adoration that I've seen (and I freely admit I like) in a lot of paranormal romances. He fought the bond between him and Daniela. But, when he gave into it, boy did he! The love scenes were tres steamy! I was curious how Ms. Cole would pull off having lots of sexy encounters with a couple who couldn't touch each other, but I must say she did it well.
I love this world of the Lore. It's funny, fascinating, exciting, interesting, and very entertaining. The Immortals After Dark series is tied for my favorite paranormal series (with the Black Dagger Brotherhood) for a good reason--it's awesome. I was happy to see that this was a fairly long short story, just under 300 pages. And Ms. Cole used the time she had to excellent advantage. I totally ended up loving this story, and it more than earned its five star rating. I loved how well Ms. Cole wrapped up the Wroth brothers' stories. I think that she found the perfect mates with them, and I was very happy with how she resolved Daniela and Murdoch's prickly situation. And can I just say that I think I might be part Icere? I sure do love the cold, and I truly enjoyed the scenes in which Daniela gets settled into Murdoch's icy hunting lodge in Sibera, and the couple frolicking in the snow and ice. This story was fantastic!
"Tempt Me Eternally" by Gena Showalter had a tough job to accomplish, following an Immortals After Dark story. I have to say that it did it fairly well. I will always choose supernatural over science fiction. It's just the way I'm wired. However, I thought the concept behind this story was pretty interesting. The Rakans have come to Earth to settle down and rebuild after their world and peoples are devastated by an invasion by the Schon, a race of beings who have sex with and infect other races with a virus that causes the the females to turn into cannibals. All the females were killed, and they decimated many of the males of the Rakan world. The lone survivors have found Earth, and intend to live here peacefully. However, they encounter a force of AIR, an agency that protects Earth from hostile aliens. Things don't go well, and some of the AIR agents are killed by a rogue Rakan, and their leader Breean sees and kidnaps AIR agent Macy (who is actually Aleaha-a shapeshifting woman who has assumed the identity of Macy). Breean can actually see the real Aleaha under the mask of Macy. He sees and decides he has to have her. He takes her and some of the other AIR agents back to his hideout, biding his time to try to make an exchange with AIR and bargain for the right to live on Earth peacefully, but he's already determined that he will keep Aleaha. Aleaha is a pretty tormented heroine. She has an ability that has caused her a lot of trouble, because she morphs in moments of extreme emotion (including sex). She's tired of pretending to be someone else. When Breean seems to see and like the real her, as well as accepting her morphing abilities, she feels a real bond, not to mention he's sex on legs, and she's incredibly attracted to this tall, well-built, sweet-tasting, golden man. She doesn't want to be his captive, but he makes captivity very enticing as he seduces her body and soul into loving him and wanting forever with him. But, Aleaha has her loyalty to AIR to deal with before she can jump off the deep end into passion with Breean.
This was a good story. It was also very steamy. I ended up enjoying the science fiction elements very much. Ms. Showalter focuses more of the sensuality, but she does that very well. I knew the characters enough to care about them, and root for their happy ending, and I was pretty engaged. As I said, I was so blown away by the IAD story, it was hard to love this one quite as much. But it was good and entertaining. It easily earns a four star rating. And it was nice to revisit the Alien Huntress storyline, in which I am way behind.
I don't tend to buy very many hardcovers, because I'm cheap and they are harder to store, but this was way worth my money, even if just for the Immortals After Dark story. I think of the Alien Huntress story as a nice bonus, since I've been more interested in reading science fiction lately, and I really do like Gena Showalter's writing. This was a great read for the holidays. Although the stories weren't heavily focused on Christmas, I thought that the authors used the holiday theme to good effect. I especially loved the frosty moments in IAD. Oh to have a sexy guy to play in the snow with!
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