Note: This is a review of an adult book. Please, do not read either the review or the book reviewed unless you are an adult.
SUMMARY: Myst the Coveted is a thousands of years old Valkyrie, a fierce warrior who uses seduction as a part of her fighting strategy. As a punishment for a youthful indiscretion she must wear a chain around her waist, which no one can break, but whoever possessed it would have an absolute power over Myst.
Nikolai Wroth is a three centuries old vampire general. When he saves Myst from the dungeons of the Vampire Horde, he finds out she is his Bride, but she escapes him, too, leaving him in agonizing desire that can be satiated only by her. Finally hunting her down five years later, Wroth unintentionally breaks her chain and thus discovers its power over her. He plans to use it as a revenge for the unending torment he has been subjected to for half a decade, but eventually realises he wants more from her. Now Myst gains back her freedom, but will she freely come to Wroth?
Kresley Cole creates a whole new world in her Immortals After Dark series. Although she uses familiar paranormal creatures, she adds the elements which make them and their world special.
Valkyrie are beautiful female warriors, born of gods Freya and Wóden and mortal mothers, brave mortal warriors struck by lightning upon their deaths on battlefield. Their ultimate desire is freedom and they have no predestined partners, however, they recognize their soul mates when they feel they would forever run to one’s arms. They are also very acquisitive and they become entranced by precious jewels and gold. They are mortal enemies of vampires.
There are two vampire factions in Cole’s novels. The Vampire Horde are savage, red-eyed vampires who drink their victims to death, thus taking all their memories which drive them mad, lusting for blood more and more. Killing is their only purpose. The Forbearer Army is lead by Kristoff, Gravewalker. He is the rightful king of the Horde who was deprived of his throne and raised by humans. In order to regain his crown, he is building an army of turned humans, the strongest and bravest warriors. In exchange for eternal life he demands their eternal loyalty. The Forbearers refrain from drinking from a living source. They are outcasts among the paranormal creatures of the Lore and are forbidden to be taught about the Lore under pain of ostracism. Both kinds of vampires have only one true mate, a Bride, and they can gain their full strength only when they meet their Brides. A Bride makes a vampire breathe and his heart beat again, which is called blooding. Also, only a Bride can sexually satisfy a vampire for the first time.
Myst is the most beautiful of the Valkyrie. She has dedicated her life fighting not only vampires but also all the men who want to exploit women. She uses men’s lust after her to avenge the injustices they have done to women or other Valkyrie. However, despite her notoriety and independence, her subconscious wishes for someone she could trust and share her life with begin to surface when she meets Wroth.
Nikolai Wroth was an Estonian general who fought in Estonian-Russian Wars. He and his brother Murdoch were chosen by Kristoff because of their courage and strength and were turned into Vampires as they were dying on the battlefield. When Wroth meets Myst in the Horde’s prison, he does not know who or what she is and is desperate for knowledge to the extent of threatening her with torture to extract information from her. However, in the midst of their confrontation, Myst is revealed to him as his Bride.
Myst is untouched by events, only planning to escape, but before she can do so, Wroth steals a kiss form her and, accidentally, a drop of her blood. Although Wroth is her mortal enemy and their union impossible, Myst cannot stop thinking of the general she used to admire when he was still human. When Wroth finally catches up with her and gains control over her through her chain, he is initially blinded by revenge and takes her his prisoner.
The theme of mortal enemies finding love has been explored in literature numerous times; nevertheless, I particularly liked the fact that Cole does not take the common quick love-at-first-sight or set-of-circumstances solutions. Even though Myst is at Wroth’s mercy, her desire for freedom is stronger than anything else. She negotiates with Wroth to promise her he will give her freedom after a fortnight. When he declines to keep his word, she finds the strength to break free from his control and flees from him.
On the opposite side, Wroth is maddened by the thought she only plays him and confused by the out-of-context memories he dreams about because of her blood, and which make him think she is a heartless seductress. Distrustful of her, he goes back on his word, but is still unable to prevent her from running away.
Only when they are separated and they have to deal with the troubles of the world around them, are they able to sort out their feelings. Liberty at hand, Myst realises, she is not free if she hides from Wroth enclosed in her own home. With Myst gone, Wroth becomes aware that he wants Myst to love him without being obligated to be at his side. From this point on they are able to work towards their happiness.
The one thing I did not like in The Warlord Wants Forever was that there was too much sex for my taste, especially because the erotic scenes are quite vulgar in some spots. If I had read this short story first (I actually started with A Hunger Like No Other, a novel which is the 2nd part of the series), I would not have continued with the novels, which would be a shame, because the novels in the Immortals After Dark series are greatly improved in this aspect. Cole obviously got the right touch later on. Or, perhaps she intentionally went over the top with sexually explicit scenes and language in The Warlord Wants Forever because sexuality is a big part of both main characters, especially Myst the Coveted.
RECOMMENDATION: Despite being too erotic in my opinion, The Warlord Wants Forever is an absorbing start of a series with a fascinating plot and striking characters. This short story is a great introduction to the following novels in Immortals After Dark Series.