Lothaire - Kresley Cole FYI, pretty much spoiler-free, I think.

3+/3.5 stars overall. I'll be completely honest; I'm a little underwhelmed. I liked it...for the most part. There were parts I really liked, parts I didn't particularly like, and parts with which I was definitely squeamish/uncomfortable. This is a hard one for me to evaluate because I had been looking forward to it for QUITE some time (uh, check when I originally shelved this book - back in MAY 2011). Much like that feeling you get when you've planned a vacation to see, say, the Eiffel Tower, then after months of waiting, you get there and you're like "oh," I feel the anticipation for this book may have clouded my judgment.

HERE'S WHAT I LIKED

1. World-building! Back story! Introduction of the Dacians (a supposedly fabled but actually real vampire kingdom...that happens to be the subject of KC's spinoff series "Realm of Blood and Mist," arriving this summer)! Seeing other characters with whom I am familiar and of whom I am quite fond (hi, Thad! hi, Nixie!)!
- KC is really good at this. REALLY good at this. We get a lot of information about Lothaire's history, from his early formative years to...YES...his long history and odd frienemies status with Nix. If you're an IAD faithful *raises hand*, you'll also get a little thrill when you spot cameos of other IAD characters.
- Beyond that, we get a lot more of the world-building that makes the IAD world so fun. The biggest aspect of this world-building is the world of the Dacians. The vampire books generally are my least favorite of the IAD world, but KC does a nice job of giving her Dacian vamps individual personalities, whether it be brooding or surly. Mmmm...me likey. I'm curious enough to try out her new series set in that world.

2. The heroine, Elizabeth Ann Peirce (or "Ellie") - I liked her. A lot. Whoever thought to pair up a millenia-old, mortal-hating, filthy-rich, eviler-than-thou vamp with a human hillbilly from Appalachia? KC, that's who. Surprisingly, it worked for me. I had some fears that her character would be too much like the (loathed) trailer trash Tayla from Larissa Ione's Pleasure Unbound, who was so unworthy of Eidolon, but Ellie didn't. Ellie worked for me because she was intelligent, spunky, stood up for herself, and had backbone. And when you're paired up with Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, you need a backbone...or else he'll just rip it out for you. Even faced with her seemingly impossible position (um, from death row prisoner to captive of a vampire who is hell-bent on exterminating you so that he can use your body as the host for an evil ex-goddess? yeah, THAT doesn't sound daunting), she was still trying to scheme and plot her way into besting him. I liked that. It showed determination and grit.

3. Lothaire...as a character. To clarify, NOT as a hero. Yes, this is going to come as a weird one for all of those Lothaire groupies (of whom I still count myself a part), but yeah...he's not hero material. Sorry, folks. I think he's an awesome character with his dry DRY wit, his boundless arrogance, and his unwavering confidence. He had so many one liners that I couldn't keep track of "I should add that as a status update!" moments. He also has a really interesting back story, but yeah...that made him a great character. He didn't work (for me) as a romance hero. For more info thereon, see number 2. of "Here's what didn't work for me" below.

4. Sexytimes. Pretty smokin' hot. Like...hotter than all the other IAD books, I think. And Lothaire when he loses control over his puny mortal (then doesn't want to cop to it) is pretty great. *evil grin*

HERE'S WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR ME

1. Sexytimes. Yes, this shows up on both lists. Pretty smokin' hot sexytimes, but I just couldn't get past my squeamishness over what felt like questionable consent scenarios. And pretty much all of them fell under that category. I mean...super-powerful vamp who torments his kidnappee meets human captive? The power dynamic just felt SO wrong to me that I couldn't get comfortable with their sexytimes scenes, especially when Lothaire was such an asshole afterwards and any time he was with her otherwise, even if the sexytimes themselves were hot and choreographed nicely. There was just such a weird dynamic overall to the relationship that, even though Ellie tried to do all that she could to best Lothaire, I couldn't shake the feeling that she was doing these things (namely, seducing him) not necessarily of her own free will, but because (a) she was overpowered and had no choice and (b) she had her own endgame in mind.

2. Lothaire...as a romance hero. Yeah, he's alpha. Gamma, even? Yeah, he knows his way around a bedroom (and a settee...and a kitchen counter...etc.). But yeah...he wasn't...romantic. And he didn't protect and cherish Ellie like a vamp should his Bride. Now, I'm usually on board with KC's alpha heroes. Give me a demon with lickable horns who's dragging a reluctant newfound Valkyrie cross-country, and I totally signed up for that. It's not like I expected a reformed Lothaire or anything. He could continue with his badassery, End Game, and death dealing (which he does in this book). I just wanted a little more...outlook adjustment, I suppose? At the very least with respect to his Bride? After he recognizes Ellie as his Bride and subsequently mulls over his really UN-heroic actions towards her, I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of some major groveling. Alas, such did not appear. Some of his actions were thoughtful, which I understand for Lothaire is a MAJOR leap already, but I just couldn't connect with him as a hero. He's fun to watch and a fantastic character, sure, but I didn't really think he was a hero in this case.

3. Saroya possession. *sigh* I was really indifferent towards the first 30% or so of the book. I knew it had something to do with the Saroya possession aspect, but I couldn't pinpoint it at the time. I finally figured out just why this bothered me so much. It was totally TOTALLY an "other woman"/cheating scenario, and what made this one different was you actually got narrative from the OW's POV. *cringe* I'm sure it added to the story in some way what with Lothaire's not knowing who his Bride was, but this part didn't really work for me. I know I know...I'm just a huge wuss when it comes to these evil chicks (I also hated Sabine from Kiss of a Demon King.


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ORIGINAL REVIEW PLACEHOLDER (*sigh*...I was so looking forward to this, too!): I just want to mention that there is an author named M. Lothaire who has written about combinatorics. For those of us obsessive IAD fans, we know that Holly studied, among other things, extremal combinatorics, and Cade (my favorite - <3 him!) had looked up on Holly's laptop..."cluster analysis and extremal combinatorics." Lothaire. Combinatorics. Holly. Cade. CONSPIRACY THEORISTS, UNITE!