By far, the one book (or set of them) that has successfully kept me away as a reader solely because of the cover are the Kresley Cole ones. Personally, while I enjoy the occasional vampire romp while I'm bored of reading the action, mysteries, or just plain ol' contemporary romance, I do not however enjoy the ones where the covers are like the Kresley Cole ones.
Or specifically, the cover of A Hunger Like No Other. Way too vampirey with the claw-like nails (on both the male and female), the obvious tilting of the head to symbolize the drawing of blood (more on why that is truly an inappropriate cover for the story), the pale pale white of the female, the dark dark looks of the male, and the blood red half corset-like thing that the female wears. I shudder to think of it even in my mind. There are a few covers in which I not want to be caught dead reading, and sorry to say, this is one of them.
Being such a loyal J.R. Ward Brotherhood reader, sufficient to say that Amazon kept on throwing the Cole novels at me. And I resisted all this time based purely on the fact that the cover freaked me out. Enough to give me bad mental images of the characters to the point where I feared that even if I could get over the picture, my personal image of the hero/heroine would be ruined forever. But Amazon was relentless. In a matter of speaking, of course. I, on the other hand, was desperate to read some new paranormal as I am now seemingly in the mood for some good vampire novels. And when Borders came out with their expected 25% off coupon, I decided it was time to see what all the rage was about.
But before I made the trip to the local Borders, I needed a detour at Michael's first: The all things craft store. Needless to say that with the weekly 40% off coupon, I choose Michael's instead of the nearby Wal-Mart or the hardware store. I went straight to hunt for some colored duct tape. It was paramount that if I were going to read that novel with the cringe-worthy cover that was bound to provide bad mental imagery, I needed to cover it up fast. And I did. White was the choice for me.
Now that I was safely covered, though the smaller depiction still showed on the spine, I felt that I had sufficiently covered enough to give me a literal blank slate. I cracked the spine in hopes that I hadn't just wasted the cost of the tape, the gas it took running around, plus the price of the book. Fresh from rereading my favorite Ward, Lover Eternal, I cannot deny that I do hold Ward as the yardstick in which I measure all vampire fiction that is not sitting in the sub-genre of comedy. From the get go it was obvious that Cole's books held a darker edge with mystery and action that was reminiscent of Ward. So, I forged on...
Captured by vampires, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae, is continuously tortured. In the midst of his prisoned hell, he scents his mate on the surface and willingly injures himself and risks his life to make it to her. Emmaline Troy is unusual. Part vampire, part Valkyrie she doesn't fit into one neat category but was still raised by her Valkyrie aunts. Now alone in the streets of Paris doing some soul-searching, young Emma is frightened to find that she's suddenly being chased by an incredibly handsome man who obviously thinks she's entirely vampire. More disturbing is his insistence that he stick by her side.
Lachlain cannot let Emma leave. It's taken him centuries to finally find his mate and now he finds that not only is she a vampire but she's also very young for being a creature of the night. Around only seventy, no wonder he could never find his mate. She hadn't even been born yet all the time he's been searching. No matter, he needs to take her to his native Scotland to his home. He needs to make sure that they're home in time for the full moon where it's imperative that he asserts the fact that she's his mate. But Emma's already scared enough and Lachlain placates her by striking a deal with her. She's to accompany him home and once they're there, she's free. But what Lachlain doesn't add is that he won't be letting her go.
I must admit that I was a bit shocked to see Cole go this route for an introductory novel. Granted, she was a part of an anthology that truly introduced the series, but A Hunger Like No Other is really the first full book. What routing am I talking about? The 'mates' story. In part, I am both surprised and not at the same time. Surprised because the mates story angle is the entire driving force for the story. It's what gets the hero/heroine together and keeps them together. It is what excuses Lachlain's brash behavior in the beginning and all the misunderstandings that perpetuate between the two leads. On the other hand, I'm not surprised because it's such a popular trend these days in paranormal. It's vogue. And I can see how it works in this genre. I can very much see how it's appealing to this reading demographic.
Good thing I like it. I wasn't sold at first because it is quite abrupt in the ways which Lachlain seizes control of the situation. Though when you suspend disbelief and put yourself into his character, it's not that much of a stretch to see things his way. He's been captured, tortured, and everything in between by a vicious vampire. So when he finds out that his mate is one of them, it's not a pretty picture. Combine it with the misunderstanding that Lachlain believes that Emma is full vampire, the story rolls on from there. Where Lachlain dreamed for centuries of a pretty buxom mate with red hair and everything that he prized as a Scottish lad, he instead gets a fey blonde who's devastingly attractive with odd little pointy ears and a perchance for sleeping under the bed or on the floor instead of on the actual bed.
Readers who prefer a strong female might be turned off by the character of Emma. But I was not because it's obvious that would be her growth in the length of the novel. Emma's labeled as "Emma the Timid." I found it endearing that she would find her backbone in the novel. It's also fitting because she is so young and the misfit in her family. Those who like strong, strong females will prefer Cole's No Rest for the Wicked while my personal tastes gravitated my appreciation more towards Emma than Kaderin. Emma's a sweet character. Frightened and confused, it's easy to feel for her especially in the beginning when Lachlain hasn't quite figured out the truth about her lineage yet. However, Emma does show her hand throughout the book. She's not always the timid mouse and she can pack a punch, both the literal and emotional type to Lachlain.
Though readers (and me included) will no doubt be sometimes annoyed and impatient for the misunderstandings to resolve, it doesn't take long and I appreciated how the truth was not revealed in one fell swop. Lachlain finds out different facts about Emma at different times, slowly, piece by piece. And the reverse is true too. The evolution of Lachlain and Emma's relationship is nicely done. The plot is much revolved around the relationship than the action plot, but it's enjoyable and understandable way to open the series.
Cole has spun some new 'facts' into the paranormal genre and I've enjoyed her approach to creating her own niche. In my opinion, her series isn't as intricate or rich as Ward's Brotherhood, but Cole doesn't fall off the scales either. Her twist on the Valkyrie and their huntress attitudes are interesting. The women are strong, fearless, and attracted to all things sparkly. Cole also twisted the age old werewolf into where the characters project a separate 'beast' persona instead of turning all furry. I must commend Cole for giving it a new spin.
Going back to the point where I mentioned that the cover is not only overly paranormal and vampire-esque, but inappropriate according to plot: The cover shows the male obviously ready to bite. BUT Lachlain is not a vampire. Indeed, in the beginning he is quite thoroughly repulsed at Emma's need for nourishment in the form of blood. Even if I didn't personally dislike the cover, the fact that it the cover is not in sync with the plot would make me adverse to it anyways.
Note: Want a good cover to a vampire book: Check out Ward's
Lover Awakened. Though my Brotherhood heart lies with Rhage, Z's cover with the silver color scheme and the model(s) chosen makes it the best cover thus far (and probably ever). Unbelievably sexy but still very much paranormal, that is indeed a cover that matches both in tone and feel.
Overall, I enjoyed Cole's first book. I've continued with the series reading No Rest for the Wicked but still enjoyed Lachlain and Emma's story better. I felt the balance between Lachlain and Emma was nicely done. Though I was weary of the strong 'mates' point and Lachlain's behavior, I soon forgave that and just enjoyed the story for itself. There are some very sweet parts to the story which I enjoyed. One of my favorite one liners is when Emma finally finds out that she is indeed Lachlain's mate and she says, (in a voice that I would imagine to be small and filled with a little disbelief) "Not Australian for buddy?" A cute echo to a previous line in the book, A Hunger Like No Other is a worthwhile read.
In the mood for some alpha maleness and a Scottish burr? Go check it out.
4.5 out of 5: Entertaining read. Relationship had the entire length of novel to develop and mature with the appropriate pitfalls in between. The climax and the action part of the plot was a bit too predictable and I felt that it could have been handled better. But still a good read. Keeper copy. Reread. But, cover with duct tape first if you're in any way turned off by the cover. Not to mention the fact that it doesn't even fit the characters.