After spending 90% of my time while reading Lothaire pissed off, I had sworn off this series. Yet half a year later I was wandering around my library and saw this book and thought "Hmmm maybe this one will be better." Luckily, for the most part, it was. The issues I've had with Cole's previous books (overbearing asshat heroes, competent heroines who turn into ninnies around said hero, and disturbing sex scenes where lack of consent is painted as not an issue) were still present but toned down a lot here. However, I still found myself growling at the book and wanting to slap some sense into the characters.
Garreth MacRieve is being a mopey spoiled brat and bemoaning the fact that his brother's death has left him with the burden of having to rule the clan. For the most part, Garreth tries to ignore that he has responsibilities and insists that his brother is alive, which luckily for him the brother is (see: A Hunger Like No Other). Whilst in the middle of a drunken pity-fest featuring rugby, Garreth sees Lucia, a Valkyrie, and immediately recognizes her as his mate. Unluckily for him, Lucia wants nothing to do with Garreth.
Centuries ago, Lucia made the mistake of falling for an evil god's tricks and is now responsible for ensuring that he doesn't start an apocalypse every 500 or so years. So Lucia is in no mood to tolerate Garreth popping up and making her life even more complicated than it already is. Unfortunately, Garreth is quite determined despite the fact that Lucia attempts to avoid him for over a year. As the looming apocalypse draws near the two are forced to work together.
I spent an insane amount of time during this book sighing and shaking my head. Both Garreth and Lucia seem like reasonable characters, but they were just so blindingly stupid about certain things that it was vastly annoying. I liked Lucia's character a lot. I loved that she had an awesome skill and took great pride in it, but I wanted to shake her at so many points during the story. Despite her getting portrayed as a rational character she adamantly refused to tell Garreth about her quest, even when it was glaringly obvious that he would be a great help. It just didn't match up with most of her other actions and felt like her refusal to share was inserted purely to ensure continued dramas and misunderstandings with Garreth. I would've liked the story a hell of a lot more if she was upfront with Garreth and they were able to work together on the quest instead of Garreth constantly getting in her way because of his lack of knowledge.
For his part, Garreth was a bit of an ass-hat. Instead of respecting Lucia's decisions or trusting that she knows what she's doing he constantly went out of his way to undermine her. The "I know what's best for you" mentality he carried around in this story made me want to smack him upside the head. What's sad is that in comparison to some of Cole's other heroes, Garreth was an understanding sweetheart. And that is one reason why this book got the rating it got from me.
That and, as always, Cole's writing is fantastic. Despite my issues with the characters Cole has a really great world she's built here and that is always what draws me back to these books. Her plots, outside of the romance, and the mythology she uses in these books are outstanding. Not only that, but I have to give her some mad props for her consistency. Almost all of the books in this series are taking place at the same time as each other or their events are overlapping with the endings of a previous book. For instance, this book (which is number 9) starts off at the same time and in the same place as the first book and overlaps with a lot of the events going on in several of the other books. So Cole has either an outstanding memory or a serious pile of notes to help her keep the consistency.
I could end this review by saying what I typically say, that I probably won't pick-up another of these books, but I know it would be a lie. It seems I can't resist the vortex that is this series.