Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Lothaire

Lothaire by Kresley Cole
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's review
Jul 24, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: paranormal, romance, fantasy, 2012
Read in July, 2012 — I own a copy

My love for this series is undying. Which is ironic, considering that most of the characters are too. :)

Elizabeth "Ellie" Pierce had been living a pretty content life, up in the Appalachian mountains with her family, a large mining clan who mostly live in trailers. Then an force of sheer evil took possession of her body, Soraya the Soul Reaper, Goddess of Death who takes the utmost pleasure in taking over Ellie's body and killing people. A last desperate bid to rid herself of this interloper results in the mass murder of several priests come to do an exorcism, and the arrival of the police. Determined to end things by provoking the police to shoot her, Ellie is instead saved from this out by the sudden appearance of a terrifying man: tall, muscled, white-blond hair, dressed in black leather with dark red eyes, he takes the bullets without a care and tells her he wants her to spend two years in prison, keeping the body - and Soraya - safe until he can come back and claim her as his Bride.

Lothaire is an ancient vampire, one of the oldest beings in the Lore - as old as Nix the Ever-Knowing, in fact, his old friend-nemesis-betrayer. He is constantly planning and scheming, and keeps a thick book of all the debts people in the Lore owe him. He seeks revenge on two groups of vampires, one powerful and hidden in the mist, the other the Horde - both of which he is descended from, and determined to get their crowns for himself. To do that, he needs a queen worthy of being at his right hand. When seeing Ellie blooded him, he knew it was Soraya who is his rightful Bride, not the human host, and hatched a new plan that will oust Ellie from her body, allowing Soraya to take over, after which he will pursue his blood vendetta from a millennium ago and finally achieve his goals.

But Soraya, unknown to Lothaire, is a virgin queen, her power lies in being untouched, and she cannot stand Lothaire's advances. Instead, she encourages him to use Ellie, who he has sprung from prison just as she was about to be executed, much to Ellie's dismay. To Lothaire, Ellie is a hillbilly, the very opposite of the queen he needs, and he treats her with cruel disdain. Escaping Lothaire is impossible, but her new plan is to win him over, for only if he loved her would he stop his plan to banish her soul forever.

As always, the plot sounds complicated but is revealed at a steady, well-timed pace so that it all makes sense, your understanding building as the story progresses. It helps to have the knowledge and context from the previous books as well - these are recurring characters and over-arching themes and plots that weave in and out. The first book, A Hunger Like No Other , may have been quite simple and even formulaic, but ever since then Cole has been steadily and patiently building her world and developing her impressive cast of characters, in such a way that she puts many epic fantasy writers to shame.

I loved Ellie - someone else described her as "scrappy" and I love that, it's spot-on. She's short, small, wiry, confident and has none of the annoying habits of truly whiny, delicate romance heroines. She has conviction, pride, determination, willpower, ambition, loyalty and compassion. Lothaire, after releasing her from prison, takes her to his sealed-off penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park in New York City. There, he lays it all out for Ellie, and she's quick to understand that once Lothaire has the ring he needs to remove her soul from her body, he won't waste time using it. Ellie's had enough. She's already lost five years of her life, locked up in prison, away from her family and the mountains and everything that makes living worthwhile, all so the evil bitch inside her is safe for Lothaire. Killing herself seems preferable to his plan, but Lothaire gets in the way of that, too. After a millennia of working on his Endgame, and being so close to achieving it, he's not about to let one scrappy human woman thwart him.

Lothaire, too, I loved. He's appeared in several of the books in the series before, and he is truly the "Enemy of Old" - everyone fears him, mixed in with some hatred, and not without reason. His age makes him strong, he's cunning, he's relentless, and a great many people owe him favours. He's also narcissistic, selfish, elitist, arrogant, cocky, demanding, merciless and alone. He has no friends, aside from Nix though that's a weird friendship if it is one, and no real allies. He works alone, seeking to rule what he hates. We get to learn a bit about his past, even his childhood, but thankfully, Cole has written a character like this only to have him "redeemed" at the end through love. No, he stays the same Lothaire, only now he has a woman to tease him and make him strive towards new, healthier goals.

This is very much a character-driven story. Several of the others have had exciting, adventuresome plots propelling the story, and the characters, forward, but here we have a slower story, spending more time on establishing the characters, having them learn each other and grow to love each other, with the pending threats and dire countdowns adding tension and suspense. It worked really well, especially considering Lothaire's not a character you could easily fall in love with, no matter how pretty he is. He's such a bastard. And the fact that Ellie's essentially forgives him for what he put her through, well that's a bit of a tough pill to swallow - or would be, if Cole hadn't given them the time and space to really understand each other. Because even after Lothaire falls in love with her, and saves her over Soraya, he still acts high-handed and selfish and doesn't understand why she's upset that he's deciding her future for her - oh and what she does to him after their fantastic argument, it's funny and satisfying even though it's gory, because Ellie manages to do what no one in the Lore has ever come close to doing. (Naturally, he's pissed.) That's the fun thing about characters who rarely really die: they go through maimings and curses and lost limbs and they're okay. Ellie could see in Lothaire what no one else could. Lothaire doesn't become a better person, not really - he's still the Enemy of Old - but with Ellie, he has better intentions, better motivations, and someone to make happy.

This has all Cole's trademark humour and unexpected plot turns, as well as an ending that resolves all the things you thought could never be resolved. She's great at that. And between the banter, the sex, the imaginative world-building and supporting cast, the twists and turns and high-stakes adventure, and two main characters who totally steal the show, this is another one to add to my favourites. And now the wait begins for a new Kresley Cole book! If you enjoy paranormal romance of any kind, but especially the kind that leans heavily into Fantasy terrain, with original, exciting characters, intelligent, clever plots and fun banter, you absolutely have to get cracking on Immortals After Dark!

Note on the series: Depending on which list you follow, this is either the 11th or 12th book in the series. Fairly recently on Goodreads - which is the best place outside the author's website to get accurate info on a series - the original novella, "The Warlord Wants Forever", available on its own as well as in the anthology, Playing Easy to Get , has been listed as #0.5, which is a bit weird to me, and A Hunger Like No Other has gone back to being the #1 book. Which makes this the 11th. But if you still count "The Warlord Wants Forever" as the first book, then this is #12. Confused? Don't care? Just wanted to make clear why I have this down as #12 while Goodreads says it's #11, in order to be consistent with the numbering on my previous reviews.
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