Cade of the rage demons will stop at nothing to atone for the one wrong that will haunt him forever. But once he secures the key to his redemption, the halfling Holly Ashwin, Cade finds that the woman he thought he could use for his own ends and then forget haunts him as much as his past.
Raised as a human, Holly Ashwin never knew that some frightening legends are real until she encounters a brutal demon who inexplicably guards her like a treasure. Thrust into a sensual new world of myth and power, with him as her protector, she
begins to crave the demon’s wicked touch.
Yet just when he earns Holly’s trust, will Cade be forced to betray the only woman who can sate his wildest needs—and claim his heart?
Cadeon the Kingmaker - King Rydstrom's brother and heir to the throne of the rage demons - has made some mistakes in his 900 year existence. The foremost and by far the worst mistake was made when he was a young man, the day he cost his brother the throne. Instead of defending Tornin, the king's stronghold, Cadeon was instead racing to see to the welfare of his foster family thus allowing his brother's kingdom to be overthrown by Mort the Deathless, an evil sorcerer. And by his very namesake, Mort is deathless. No traditional Lore means of killing - beheading or fire - will ensure his death.
Cadeon, guilt ridden over his betrayal to his kingdom, vows to his brother that he will get Rydstrom's crown back. 900 years later and Cadeon is still trying to make do on his promise. As mercenary, Cadeon has crowned many a king, hence his title - the Kingmaker, but he always seems to fail with his original vow to his brother. But fate has bestowed upon the brothers of the Woede, a chance. All that Cadeon and Rydstrom must do is find the Vessel, a female of the Lore that will birth a child of either ultimate evil or good. Groot the Metallurgist, Mort's brother, requests the Vessel and in return he will forge a sword that will kill Mort the Deathless.
Unfortunately for Cade, fate can never be kind without exacting a price. The Vessel just so happens to be Cade's mate, Holly Ashwin - a human forbidden to his kind, whom he has been keeping watch over for the past year. Demons may recognize their mate but they won't know for sure until they attempt, in other words, have sex with them. During this process a demon will turn into his demonic form - which is huge; their skin color changes and their horns straighten. They also bite the female between the neck and shoulder, injecting with their fangs a stunning agent the immobilizes her. Humans by nature cannot withstand the attempt without possible death, therefore Cade must resign himself to the fact that he and Holly can never be together. Cadeon uses this resignation to force himself into accepting the job of collecting Holly and delivering her to Groot thereby retrieving the desired sword.
Holly Ashwin has issues. Suffering from acute OCD and mild agoraphobia, Holly can only feel comfortable in either her loft or the college campus where she is simultaneously completing her doctorate and teaching. In order to focus, everything around her must be organized in three or multiples of. In addition, Holly will only eat prepacked food where no human transference has taken place. Lastly, Holly has sexual issues. She's a twenty-six year old virgin but not for lack of trying. Unfortunately Holly has scared off the two males that she attempted to have sex with. Both times she became wild, uncontrollable even, to the point where the possibility of injuring the man was very real. So Holly has abstained. She does currently have a boyfriend, Tim, of two years. It is definitely a cerebral relationship as opposed to a physical one but the two do plan to get married. This plan however is officially halted when she is abducted by demons, struck by lightening, and thereby resurrecting her Valkyrie genes from dormancy.
Cadeon is just as surprised to see Holly with her signature Valkyrie silver eyes and sharp claws. But he still sticks with his original deal to take her to Groot. Holly, suspicious by nature is wary of trusting the hot demon but all she wants is to go back to her organized old life and when Cade dangles the opportunity to remain a mortal, she jumps at the chance. Cade tells her that Groot can stop the transformation (a complete lie) and since he is already on his way to meet with the sorcerer he'll take her along with him.
What follows is a steady unfolding of passion between Cadeon and Holly. Although the two couldn't be more different, their attraction is undeniable.
If you stripped the novel bare of everything except for the basic love story, you'd see that it is quite simple and formulaic. Opposites attract, arguing/teasing allows the characters to lean about each other, there is some misunderstanding because they are still wary of each other, this is then resolved and they each proclaim their love. See, pretty simple, yet Cole's uncanny ability to make old formulas fresh blinds the read to the fact that they've probably read this story a million times before. Plus Cole's world building is phenomenal and the humour is laugh out loud funny. I love her style, it's tried and true with a lot of extra thrills. In essence her plot lines are so clean and flowing that I can finish one of her novels very rapidly.
The one kink that I had with the story, and it's a major one in my opinion, was that I felt that Cadeon could have been fleshed out more as a character. Cadeon was very sensitive about his intelligence for he was not educated as well as his brother, the king. This is also a worry for him when it comes to Holly because she is so obviously smart. Cole does mention a time or two through Cade's POV that he is nervous about not being smart enough but I thought this could have been explored even more. Cadeon is self-educated and I think he was proud of that but he never really exhibited any of his knowledge. I guess I was waiting for him to truly impress Holly with some bit of information that he learned. In turn, Holly never questions him about his education which was weird because she was so into school and knowledge. Cade asks her all kinds of questions regarding her education but she never returns the favor thereby never allowing Cadeon to shine.
Also, Cadeon didn't seem much different to me from begining to end. While we see tons of character growth for Holly, there wasn't much growth on Cade's end. I just wanted more Cadeon, more of who he was and what he wanted.
Although not my favorite adddition to the Immortals After Dark series, it was still a worthwhile and fun read. One thing I am looking forward to is Rydstrom's book, 'To Kiss a Demon King' which comes out in January 2009. There is a major life altering event that happens to Rydstrom in 'Dark Desires After Dusk' and he seems a totally different demon by the end. Exciting!