Saturday, July 20, 2013

Shadow's Claim by Kresley Cole

Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, has spent his life serving his people - striking in the night, quietly executing any threat to their realm. The coldly disciplined swordsman has never desired anything for himself - until he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore's most fearsome villains.

Desperate to earn her guardians' approval after a life-shattering mistake, young Bettina has no choice but to marry whichever suitor prevails - even though she's lost her heart to another. Yet one lethal competitor, a mysterious cloaked swordsman, invades her dreams, tempting her with forbidden pleasure.

Even if Trehan can survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife, the true battle for Bettina's heart is yet to come. And unleashing a millennium's worth of savage need will either frighten his Bride away - or stroke Bettina's own desires to a fever pitch...

I've been a fan of Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series pretty much since it started. I figured picking up this title, the first in her Dacians series, would be a safe bet. While the plot itself is OK, I wasn't enjoying this nearly as much as I had expected, which leads me to question if 1) the writing wasn't up to par or 2) I've just grown tired of paranormal. Maybe it was a bit of both?

I read the reviews on Amazon, and most absolutely loved this book - specifically the "hot" sex scenes. I think it was probably my biggest problem with the book. Look, I get that sex sells, and I get that Cole writes hot scenes between Loreans, etc, but for the love of all that's holy, do we really have to have so many? About half to 2/3 of the way thru the book, I felt like I was reading about Bettina and Trehan and their sexual exploits every other chapter. I literally started skipping to the next scene where they were NOT having sex, just so I could get on with the storyline. Sorry, but I do believe you can overload on too many scenes of "throbbing" manhoods, plus I'm starting to loathe words like "hot", "moist", and "wet". Sigh.

The story itself really isn't much different than any other IAD book from Cole: Immortal meets fated Mate, they dance around the fact that they are fated mates, someone's life is thrown into jeopardy, sex, sex, and more sex, then we get a happy ending, sometimes both literally and figuratively. And this time, I really noticed how primitive some of the relationship is; there were scenes where Trehan is "roaring" about Bettina being his Bride, and I kept flashing to "Me Tarzan, you Jane". Good grief, do readers really like that sort of he-man stuff?

I found myself much more intrigued by Bettina's guardians, Raum and Morgana. There's obviously a backstory there, given the love-hate relationship the two seem to have (and no, they're not a couple, at least not in this book). I wanted to know a lot more about Salem, the disembodied sylph/phantom that watches over Bettina at Morgana's behest; he was fascinating, and much more interesting than our main characters.

Then there's the tournament itself. I had a very hard time with it, the very brutal set-up that all competitors fought matches to the death for Bettina's hand in marriage. Talk about barbaric! Yes, I get that this isn't the modern world, that we're talking about demons and such here, but still - very squirm-inducing, not to mention a huge throwback to the olden days of girls being chattel for their fathers. And not everyone in the tournament is a "bad" guy; there's one scene in particular that has a complete innocent dispatched, and I just about stopped reading right then. Personally, I found it very upsetting, and unnecessary to forward the plot.

Finally, there's Bettina herself. Sorry girl, you are annoying. Pining constantly over her childhood friend, Caspion, wanting him to notice her as a woman, blah blah blah. Being so terribly afraid after her attack, being afraid to go anywhere, do anything, stand up to anyone, etc. Look, I get that her attack was a traumatic event for her, and I do understand that sometimes people have a very difficult time getting past something like it. But she whined so much about everything - hard to get behind a heroine who you just want to slap.

Can't say I would personally recommend this, but if you like this sort of thing, feel free to check it out.

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