Dark Needs at Night's Edge, by Kresley Cole

>> Saturday, October 03, 2009

TITLE: Dark Needs at Night's Edge
AUTHOR: Kresley Cole

PAGES: 384

SETTING: Contemporary New Orleans
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: 5th in the Immortals After Dark series

REASON FOR READING: I'm enjoying this series very much


Néomi Laress, a famous ballerina from a past century, became a phantom the night she was murdered. Imbued with otherworldly powers but invisible to the living, she haunts her beloved home, scaring away trespassers -- until she encounters a ruthless immortal even more terrifying than Néomi herself.


To prevent him from harming others, Conrad Wroth's brothers imprison him in an abandoned manor. But there, a female only he can see seems determined to drive him further into madness. The exquisite creature torments him with desire, leaving his body racked with lust and his soul torn as he finds himself coveting her for his own.


Yet even if Conrad can win Néomi, evil still surrounds her. Once he returns to the brutality of his past to protect her, will he succumb to the dark needs seething inside him?
Just when I was getting comfy with the adventure-romance feel of the last two Talisman Hie-set books in the Immortals After Dark series, Kresley Cole changes the game completely and gives us a more slow-moving and introspective romance. The good news is she does introspective just as well as she does fast-moving adventure!

In the 1920s, Néomi Laress was a notorious burlesque dancer. She was famous and celebrated, and her dancing allowed her to leave behind a deprived upbringing and become independent, even comfortable. Unfortunately, she had really bad taste in men, and made the mistake of getting involved with an insanely jelous man, who ended up stabbing her to death. Having become a ghost, she's been spending her afterlife in the decaying New Orleans mansion she owned when she was alive. Try as she might, she cannot leave the grounds, and she can't communicate with anyone who comes into the house, either. Her existence has become boring and lonely, only slightly enlivened whenever someone moves in (unfortunately, they all tend to move out too quickly... maybe because the house has a ghost who's a bit of a kleptomaniac and choosy about who she lets live in her house?).

That boredom is interrupted by the arrival of some very strange people, who bring a madman into the house and chain him to one of the beds. That madman is Conrad, brother of Sebastian and Nikolai, heroes of No Rest For The Wicked and The Warlord Wants Forever respectively.

Like Sebastian, Conrad was turned into a vampire against his will by Nikolai, who'd been turned earlier and was trying to keep his brothers from certain death. Conrad dealt with his change even worse than Sebastian, though, and he's now one of the Fallen vampires, maddened by bloodlust and a danger to everyone. Normally one such as him would be executed, but his brothers can't bear to do so. Instead, they capture him and isolate him, hoping against hope that somehow they can find a solution, a way to cure him. If they can't, they will have to execute him, no matter how much it hurts.

Néomi is fascinated by this madman chained to a bed and very intrigued by what's going on. Checking on him is a way to pass the days, and she amuses herself by "visiting" him. She's very surprised when he seems to react to her presence.

Conrad is just as surprised to see a beautiful woman at the foot of his bed, but he simply regards this as proof that his madness is not fading quite as much as he would otherwise assume. But when his brothers run into trouble and disappear, leaving him behind (don't worry, these are immortals, so he won't die), Conrad's mind continues to clear and he can't but conclude that Néomi is real.

I just loved what Cole did with their relationship, the way she used the fact that Néomi is a ghost. See, in this mythology, vampires feel no physical desire whatsoever until they meet their Brides (each creature here seems to have a fated mate, and these are the vampires'). The way they realise the woman they've met is their Bride is because their blood starts flowing and they feel their heart start pumping. Now, the more time Néomi and Conrad spend together, talking and sharing, the more they fall for each other, and Conrad is convinced she's the woman for him. However, because she's incorporeal, she cannot "blood" him (as it's called), and so this is a relationship where though attraction and sensuality play an important role, they do so without any overt sexuality. The way their relationship developed made me believe in it wholeheartedly.

The corolary of the above paragraph, if you were paying attention, is that Conrad is a virgin while Néomi, well, really, really isn't. And when they finally find a way to really be together, the payoff is fantastic.

So how do they find a way to be together? Ah, that's what's hanging over the reader's mind throughout the book. I kept wondering, how is Cole going to pull off a happy ending without going the JR Ward way? Well, suffice it to say, she does, and it all makes sense and is very satisfying. Not to mention, it sets off all sorts of complications that involved and developed our understanding of many of the other players in this universe of Cole's. It also sets up the next books in the series, and left me dying to read them.



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