I want to preface this review by saying that Kresley Cole is one of my favorite authors, in romance or any other genre. I have read all of her Immortals After Dark series (of which this is the sixteenth), and she is on my auto buy list. But this book didn’t live up to the rest of the series, which with the exception of this book and MacRieve, are all four or five stars for me and on my permanent keeper shelf.
The heroine of this novel is Josephine. She is an orphan, and a loner, and while she longs to be the superhero in the story of her life, feels she falls more in line with a super villain. She has a younger brother, Thaddeus, whom she loves dearly, but after a terrible accident that happen to her when she was just a kid, and her brother a toddler, she gave her Thaddie over to the care of the lovingly maternal attentions of Mrs. B. From then on she would keep on eye on him from afar, and become the lonely protector of the down trodden who live in her vicinity. Jo has no memory of her family or where she came from, but she longs to find out who, and more importantly, what she is.
The hero is Rune Darklight, half-demon, half-dark fey, with poisonous blood and a lethal kiss. A former slave, he is now one of the Morior, a group of ancient, near god-like beings. He gathers information through seduction and is the go-to man for Orion, the leader of the Morior. Gods are being killed by mere immortals, led by the manipulative Nix the Everknowing, and Rune has been tasked with finding and killing her. Josephine may be the key to completing his mission and therefore he intends to keep her near, using all his skills to enchant and seduce her into giving him the information he seeks.
Kresley Cole is known for her steamy love scenes, and sex is always an integral part of her stories. Usually she is able to make them feel completely organic to the narrative, but it just felt forced and completely unnecessary in many instances to this one. She also typically has complex and well-written characters, and in that regard I don’t think Jo and Rune are really any different, except for they were both pitiable in some aspects, which definitely doesn’t work for a strong romance in my opinion.
I read on Ms. Cole’s website that she had a choice to either wrap up the Immortals After Dark series, or continue on with it, and while I’m not giving up on the series by any means, I do think it was a weak effort for the second phase of the world she has created. There are many characters from previous novels that fans would love to see get their own story, but instead we get two new ones, and also a completely new mythology. Ms. Cole is wonderful at weaving a story line between many novels, and so I can only hope that future books make this one not feel so out of place.
Even thought the IAD series occurs in the same world, with reoccurring characters and sometimes even with the same events told from a different perspective, they generally can be read out of order without the reader feeling left out. Sweet Ruin is no different, but I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one if you have never read anything else of hers before. The first book of hers I ever read was Lothaire, and even though its in the middle of the series, its a good indication of what she has to offer and is a solid five stars for me.