Published 2012 481 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book cover)
#1 New York Times bestseller Kresley Cole introduces The Dacians, a new paranormal romance collection following the royal bloodline of Dacia, a vampire kingdom hidden within the Lore of the Immortals After Dark. Shadow’s Claim features Prince Trehan, a ruthless master assassin who will do anything to possess Bettina, his beautiful Sorceress mate, even compete for her hand in a blood-sport tournament – to the death.
He won't be denied
Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, has spent his life serving his people, striking in the night, quietly executing any threat to their realm. The coldly disciplined swordsman has never desired anything for himself – until he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore’s most fearsome villains.
She’s bound to another
Desperate to earn her guardians' approval after a life-shattering mistake, young Bettina has no choice but to marry whichever suitor prevails—even though she’s lost her heart to another. Yet one lethal competitor, a mysterious cloaked swordsman, invades her dreams, tempting her with forbidden pleasure.
A battle for her body and soul
Even if Trehan can survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife, the true battle for Bettina's heart is yet to come. And unleashing a millennium’s worth of savage need will either frighten his Bride away – or stoke Bettina’s own desires to a fever-pitch....
Shadow’s Claim is supposed to be a beginning of the new paranormal series, although why, is a question someone should ask the author. It happens simultaneously to the events from Lothaire and the stories intertwine in many places. So if you are a first time reader looking to start a new paranormal series, this is not the place.
While Lothaire was trying to come to grips with his vampire bride, his cousin Trehan found his fated woman and his own bundle of troubles. Trehan seems a bit saner than most of Kresley Cole heroes. He comes from a royal house that is pledged to defend the hidden realm of Dacia and ruthlessly dispatch of all the miscreants who breach its boarders. One of them is demon tracker Caspion, whom Trehan pursues to his home Demonarchy of Abaddon. There he meets Bettina, the future queen of Abaddon and a crossbreed between demon and a sorceress.
Trehan is a personification of all Dacian’s virtues. Coldly rational, noble and valiant. He is also bigheaded and without even a trace of humor, which makes him a lost cause in my book. And that is pretty much all I have to say about the hero in this review. Whereas Lothaire revolved solely around the male protagonist and his bride was only an afterthought, Shadow’s Claim is centered on Bettina. It is a story of her coming of age and becoming a queen she dreamt to be.
Bettina would do beautifully in any historical romance. She is young, inexperienced, traumatized and more than ready to be swept of her feet by a domineering male. Oh and did I mention that her hand and kingdom are going to be a prize in the grand tournament? Initially she casts Caspion in the role of her prince in the shining armor, but fate has something different in store for her. And it is not a compliment to her backbone that she comes around so quickly and agrees that Trehan should become her lord and master.
I might sound snarky, but I am no fan of coming of age stories. The virginal sex just makes me horribly uncomfortable and continuing Lothaire’s tradition, some love scenes were just cringe worthy. So it is more of a surprise that all in all I really enjoyed this book.
As always, Kresley Cole paints a great cast of supporting characters. I loved the incorporeal sylph Salem with all his rowdiness and crude remarks. I adored the Queen of Sorceri Morgana and really hope she is going to have a whole book devoted to her schemes. The lack of Valkyries was a bit disappointing, but I welcomed a cameo by Sabine, who was by far my favorite of all Immortals After Dark heroines. The tournament proved to be a great setting and pushed the action even when the characters seemed to be in a deadlock. The idea was utilized before in No Rest For The Wicked and it is a great compliment to the author that she can reinvent her older stories and still make them attractive.
As to Dacians who are pegged to be heroes of future books in the series, I am torn. Victor and Mirceo were fun. Kosmina may still prove herself to be entertaining. But they cannot hold a candle to some of the great characters Kresley Cole left simmering on good ol' Earth. I want to read more about Melanthe. There was no book about elves and Lykae always turn to be such invigorating, irritating leads. And what about Nix? I was dreading the idea after the fiasco with Lothaire (who is still an ass in Shadow’s Claim) but since then I reconsidered. At least she is fun- crazy not brooding and unhappy. I just wish Kresley Cole would get all her ducks in a row and begin the story of Ascension, preferably with a whole group of central characters, not just one couple.
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