Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
Series or Standalone: Immortals After Dark #10
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Torture; murder; suicidal thoughts; death; violence; substance abuse and addiction; kidnapping
I was very nervous going into this book knowing what had happened to Regin on Torture Island and that her mate was the head honcho on the island. I didn’t think that Cole would be able to redeem Declan Chase as that was an incredibly tall order. But somehow, she did, and this book is one of my favorites in the Immortals After Dark series.
Murdered before he could wed Regin, the warlord Aiden continues to seek out his beloved, having been reborn time and time again with no memories of his past. As soon as he remembers who he is, he will die. Regin has awaited his return, and when she encounters Declan Chase, she recognizes her warlord reincarnated. The only problem is Declan’s taken her captive and is part of an Order determined to wipe all species of the Lore from existence. For Regin to save herself from Declan’s torment, she needs to rekindle memories of the passion they once shared, despite the terrible situation she’s in with Declan and the fact that it means losing Aiden again.
First and foremost, this book will not be for everyone. There are major content warnings, and it’s very dark and twisted. For many readers, Declan’s actions may be irredeemable. I can see why and respect that. But for me, I loved this and found Declan such an interesting character.
By all accounts, you should hate Chase. He’s tortured some of our favorite characters, including Regin. While nothing can fully justify his heinous actions, I understand how Declan ended up on this path. His family was brutally murdered at a young age, and he was essentially taken in and brainwashed to blame all Loreans. Declan turns to drugs as a coping mechanism for his anger and grief – and to stem his powers that he doesn’t realize he has. The Order, in many ways, rescued him and gave him something to fight for. He was vulnerable, and they took advantage of him to manipulate him into a pawn for their purposes.
Watching Declan realize the Order is not what he believes it to be and navigating his new reality was powerful. This poor, broken and traumatized man. Despite his terrible actions while in the Order, I sympathized with him and wanted him to find redemption. Seeing him work through his complicated feelings to Loreans and the Order is not easy, but it adds so much depth and nuance to his character – something severely lacking from many of Cole’s ultra-alpha heroes.
When you throw in Declan’s relations with Aiden, he becomes even more complicated and interesting. Technically, Declan is Aiden reincarnated. But they feel like two very different characters. I found it fascinating how Declan felt he had to compete with Aiden, despite him having Aiden’s memories and technically being Aiden. I loved how the dichotomy between Aiden and Decland played out and how, in the end, it seemed Declan was the one Regin was supposed to be with, and all the previous versions of Aiden existed so that Declan could enter Regin’s life.
When it comes to Regin, I enjoyed seeing a different side to her. In previous in the Immortals After Dark series, she’s always been very bubbly and here for a good time. We still see some of that Regin come out, especially as she tries to reawake Aiden’s memories. But the Regin at the end of this book is not the Regin who enters it. We see a much more serious Regin as she’s been drastically changed by the events on Torture Island. The vivisection scene, which you knew was coming if you read Demon From the Dark, was truly hard to read and heartbreaking. The scenes after the vivisection when they escape are almost harder to read. The violation Regin feels from that act is hard to put into words, but I thought Cole handled it beautifully. I was very emotional while reading those scenes, but I admired Regin’s resiliency and strength in the aftermath.
The romance between Regin and Declan shouldn’t work given what happens between them. But I kept wanting them to get together despite how wrong it also felt. They were two broken souls who needed the other to heal and move forward. I enjoyed that the romance was not rushed – it was something that slowly played out over the whole story. It was emotional and raw, and Cole really had to work to get them to a place where they could have a happily ever after together. The romance in this won’t be for everyone, but I loved it and found it incredibly emotional. And this wouldn’t be an Immortals After Dark book without some sexy scenes, and Cole delivered on those!
Outside of Declan and Regin, I enjoyed the story of this one. The plot balanced the heavy stuff perfectly with action and even bits of fun. I enjoyed each of the main acts of the story – they all felt slightly different but fit together perfectly. I loved the ragtag crew that Regin and Declan ended up with after the prison break, courtesy of La Dorada. Thad, one of Regin’s cellmates, became an instant new favorite character. Thad and Lothaire were a bromance I didn’t know I needed, but I enjoyed nonetheless.
Nïx continues to be one of my favorite characters, and I’m obsessed with her and Bertil the bat. She plays a significant role in pushing the action forward with this book and is crucial to Declan and Regin getting together. Her interactions with Lothaire are fascinating as they have a long history together.
Dreams of a Dark Warrior, while an incredibly heavy and dark book, is one of my favorites in the Immortals After Dark series. Cole crafted something special and did a masterful job taking the unlikeliest couple and making you root for them to get together. She redeemed a character that seemed irredeemable and did it in a way that tugged at my heartstrings. Despite his flaws, or maybe because of them, Declan Chase is one of my top IAD heroes.
I’m not sure I can recommend this book to everyone, given its content warnings and the heavy subject matter. But if you’re okay with them, I think you’ll enjoy this as it’s a nuanced and emotional story that takes you on a journey with Declan and Regin that you won’t easily forget.