The Immortals After Dark series was part of my onramp to romance that I read mumbles incoherently years ago. They aren’t perfect but they are fun although they haven’t been generally well received by some Cannonballers due to various issues including a tendency to feature ThunderSex™ . I mostly forgot about them before stumbling across Fated Mates, the delightful podcast by romance writer Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop THAT I CANNOT RECOMMEND HIGHLY ENOUGH.
(While the emphasis of the podcast is the IAD series it swerves into loads of genres like rockstar romance, fake engagements, and more.)
Fated Mates has helped me fall back in love with IAD. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this but I allowed the disapproval of other Cannonballers to sour these books for me. Please know this is not meant as a critique of other’s opinions so much as it is a recognition of my general “romance shame” and the fact that I, even now, see as something I should do quietly and not admit to in public. Most of my IRL friends read “prestige fiction” – NYT bestsellers, authors that get interviewed on NPR, etc. Even among romance readers there is a certain aura of prestige romance (Milan, Rowell, etc.) so I do not volunteer the fact that I’m reading a series about sexed up immortals.
But I’ve reclaimed my love of IAD with the help of Fated Mates (seriously y’all, this podcast is awesome) and at least here, am shaking off my romance shame. The IAD series is fun, funny, cleverly interwoven, and features strong, sex-positive women and the men who strive to be worthy of them. A common theme is that the women are confident and self-sufficient (rarely does any need “saving” by the male protagonist) and also generally happy with a strong female support system. Generally in historical romance (also my bag) the loveable rogue needs to convince himself to give up his ambling ways for the love of a good woman. Here the men struggle to be found worthy of these powerful women who are too busy saving the world to worry about what the sexy werewolf is up to.
As a series they’re a lot of fun (#2 had a small issue) so let’s dig in.
No Rest for the Wicked.
Kaderin the Cold Hearted is an immortal Valkyrie, a member of the lore we get to know in more detail in this book. The Valkyrie are immortal warriors who consume lightening. And also produce it, like during sex. Or when they’re emotional. Except Kaderin isn’t emotional and hasn’t felt any emotion since her sisters died hundreds of years ago. Killed by vampires she has dedicated her life to hunting vampires in revenge for their deaths. Until she meets Sebastian Wroth, a vampire turned against his will hundreds of years ago. He has little interest in living and doesn’t fight her when she comes to kill him. So she doesn’t. But for the first time in ages, she starts to feel. Sebastian realizes she is his fated made only he’s a dreary old vamp who has been hiding out in his sad castle for ages. And also there is the whole “she dedicated her life to killing vampires” thing.
This book has everything, a strong female protagonist who DGAF about this sad vampire warrior. A sad vampire warrior who works to improve himself to be worthy of her. A competition called the Hie where immortals vie for an ultimate prize, in this case, a key that enables you to go back in time. For Kaderin, a chance to save her sisters.
Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night
Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan lost his fated mate hundreds of years ago, something that for most ends in death. But somehow he’s survived eeking out a miserable existence until he meets Mariketa the Awaited, a witch, who kindles feelings he long thought impossible.
Mariketa and Bowen are both competitors in the Hie working for the prize of a key that enables you to go back in time. Yes this book happens concurrent to the action in the previous book. It’s pretty awesome. Bowen is going to travel back in time and save his mate. Mariketa is also in the competition however she’s only 23 and hasn’t yet come into her immortality – while immensely powerful she’s still fully mortal. Also she is “The Awaited”, the most powerful witch of the generation, who has not yet come into her full powers but, due to prophesy, knows that she has a role to play in saving all of Witch-kind. They are immediately at odds, Mariketa curses Bowen and Bowen traps Mariketa in a temple full of the angry undead. This book is really about Mariketa’s journey and coming into her own power and is my favorite so far.
Also Fated Mates calls Bowen the ultimate f&$k boi and now I cannot see him otherwise.
Dark Deeds at a Nights Edge
Naomi is a famous ballerina, a mortal tragically murdered, who has been haunting her gothic mansion for years, stuck in a lonely half-life. Until Conrad Wroth, a vampire assassin driven mad, is chained in her house by his brothers who seek to find a way to save him. For decades, Naomi has been invisible to the living. Until now.
The 5th book in the series breaks the mold in that Naomi is our first (previously) mortal protagonist. She is not immensely powerful, nor even corporal. She has no spectral powers beyond the ability to occasionally move small objects. Part of the appeal of this series is that the women are generally out and about living their best lives. They aren’t spinsters or wallflowers and none of them need a man to solve their problems. Naomi is a compelling character in many ways who honestly does fall in love. But something about the fact that Conrad is the only person in decades who has seen her curbs much of the romance. He is quite literally the only option available to her.
I’m all in for a full re-read of the series so I can play along with the check excellent podcast, join me won’t you?