Book Review of Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark, Bk 11)

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark, Bk 11)
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Helpful Score: 9

Wow, I love Kresley Cole's novels and I was more enthusiastic about this story than any other. (I literally took off work to go track down the book and read it yesterday.) Usually I have no trouble writing a review of even my least favorite of her stories because she's so good. But this was a strange book. I wasn't sure I would like it for half of its over 500 pages!

It is dark. Very dark. In fact if you are one of those people who thinks that Peter Jackson's The Lord of The Rings trilogy was gratuitously violent (I don't), then this book might bother you. Declan is a very twisted, damaged, unsympathetic character for many pages. He is the anti-romantic hero. He's a junky, he tortures people, he's been brainwashed, and he has tunnel vision when it comes to his sense of right and wrong that he has no interest in contemplating. Oddly enough, I didn't hate him and I still maintain that the preceding Demon From the Dark is the more psychologically disturbing tale. However, I found Declan mildly distasteful and wondered if I would ever believe in an epic love between him and Regin.

Regin has been my favorite character since I began reading this series over 3 years ago. Though she had some really funny lines, she was not her usual bright self. Her glow was noticeably dimmed for a good chunk of the story. Since she was tortured, locked up, or suffering life-threatening injuries most of the time, it made sense that she wouldn't be cracking jokes every couple of lines of dialogue. We get the serious side of Regin--the "tears of the clown" if you forgive my unfortunate reference. I missed her crazy side. I really did. I wished we could have seen more of it at the end of the book after everything has worked out for her and Declan. But I did appreciate the somber side of Regin and that she wasn't a one-dimensional joke machine.

About half-way or so through, in one small scene involving a bathtub, I finally understood how Cole was going to bring these two together. It was some masterful writing because after that I quickly started to really like Declan as he was and not as some wrong version of the reincarnated Aidan. But in the end I still felt starved for more interaction between him and Regin because I realized that, unlike previous books, these two spent less time alone together than any of Cole's other pairings. Somehow it makes their story both more epic and intimate, instead of less so. I don't know how Cole does it.

After finishing this book I was left a little gobsmacked. I didn't know how to react. It didn't leave me with the same fuzzy romantic feelings I had for No Rest For the Wicked, but it still had an amazing impact. I'm still not sure I can define it. I do think it was the most well-written, evenly paced, and thorough of her books so far. Cole has written that Regin was one of the first characters that she came up with for her IAD series and I can see this evident in the ease with which this book was written and the way it flows. It's over 500 pages and seems to go by in a blink. There wasn't one section that I thought deserved more time or needed to be fleshed out more. I wanted more of Regin and Declan living happily ever like you sometimes want to read fanfiction of your favorite tv series after the curtain has gone down on the final episode of the final season. But Dreams of a Dark Warrior was the best self-contained story I have ever read in a series that still managed to create interest for future stories.

As always, side characters were well-developed while not taking up too much of the limelight. Lothaire seduced me with his quirky humor, ambivalent honor, and slightly homoerotic relationship with Declan. I'm curious to see if Regin and Declan have cameos in his story.

Overall, DOADW is a wonderful addition to the IAD series and perhaps the best written romance novel I've ever read.