Princess Calliope “Lila” Barbot’s people have hated and feared Abyssian and his alliance of monsters for aeons. When the beastly demon imprisons her in his mystical castle, vowing revenge for betrayals she can’t remember, Lila makes her own vow: to bring down the wicked beast for good.
As Calliope turns hell inside out, the all-powerful Sian finds himself defenseless against his feelings for her. In turn, Lila reluctantly responds to the beast’s cleverness and gruff vulnerability. But when truths from a far distant past are revealed, can their tenuous bond withstand ages of deceit, a curse, and a looming supernatural war?
Comment: This is the latest installment in the Immortals After Dark series by author Krelsey Cole. This has been quite the long series and I'm still happy, overall, with the world created by the author and the characters in it. Although the main characters in this story weren't the ones I was looking for to the most, I liked seeing them getting their HEA.
In this book we have Abyssian (Sian) and Calliope's (Lila) romance, he's the king of Pandemonia, a realm very much like Hell and Calliope is the reincarnation of a fey princess who broke Sian's heart millennium ago. Sian doesn't trust Lila but he knows she is his mate, so he tries to keep her in the realm but isn't rushing to forgive her for something she can't even remember now...
Lila thinks she is just doing her part in a deal that will take her out of exile to her Sylvan realm. She knows Sian has expectations of her but she hides the fact the is aware she is his mate. The problem is that there is an obvious attraction between them and it starts to get harder and harder to deceive each other as time goes by and they fall in love...
Readers of this series certainly can tell new readers the books can be read as stand alone novels. But I really think it's very complicated to understand several situations without the background of all the other books, a task that can be challenging to a new reader who sees so many previous titles. I keep thinking having read them all is the best way to go because the author knows how to world build a concept and she has created incredible characters to go with it.
I think this is again obvious and readable in this new book. My biggest issue has to be the notion the stories have lost some of the focus they had at first. Is this a natural evolution of the series? Or is it the fact the author has other series which "steal" time out of this one? Through a devoted reader's eyes, of course.
The plot is pretty simple, we basically have the focus on the main character's romance and then the continuity of the sub plot which is the setting up for the Acession, the expected final battle between good and evil, where Nix, the central character of the series, has been fixing up everyone to the best outcome possible. Dare I say her mate is mentioned in this book?
Plots aside, the romance is definitely central stage here and for any PNR fan, this is certainly a plus but recently I've had had the feeling heroines are more and more independent, which is awesome from a feminist POV but... it's starting to become a bit repetitive.
The relationship between Sian and Lila starts off with secrets and omissions. Things progress and improve but we always know there are things to be uncovered. Eventually they are and that is one of the sources of conflict, if not the biggest. It's to be expected everything will be sorted and is, but it seems to me this has been the way almost all stories have been done, even more so with the recent books. I guess I wouldn't mind it much if the heroes weren't always the ones who need to apologize the most and the heroines are the ones who get smug to be the clever ones. It does rock for girls, but it's tiring for me that all female protagonists need to be stronger or clever or wittier than guys. Why not be themselves, why do they need to play the role of sarcastic and deceiving when it suits?
I liked it that at the end of this book, the relationship felt like a partnership, so things do seem better in this book than in others.
I liked the interactions with secondary characters. I miss the more evident clues about other possible romances but overall, things were interesting to rad about. This isn't close to my favorite book in the series but it had several details that make it easy and quick to read.
I wish the author would go back to focus on this series and not such a long distance existed between release of new books. Maybe a change in the personalities of characters would help as well...but all things considered, this is still a go-to series I like and will keep on reading.