RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Lothaire by Kresley Cole


Title: Lothaire
Author: Kresley Cole
Publication Info: Gallery 2012
ISBN: 9781439136829
Genre: Paranormal

Book Lothaire - close up of a dude with red eyes looking at the reader This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Pam G. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Paranormal Romance category.

The summary:     

All Fear The Enemy Of Old

Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.

Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.

Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?

And here is Pam's review:

Based on the drooling anticipation of so many SBTB readers before its release, I read Lothaire when it first came out.  If I’d reviewed it at the time, I would have graded it A, written “Loved it!” and continued to hunt down the Immortals After Dark series, no doubt growling “want book” in a menacing tone.  Rereading it now, after devouring the rest of the series, I enjoyed it just as much, though not in quite the same way.  It amazed me that I’d been so enthused the first time when I considered the amount of back story I’d been missing.  That, in itself, is a tribute to Cole’s skill.  She offers intriguing characters  and scintillating, generally snarky dialogue, without losing her grip on the plot or resorting to the insidious info-dump.  Thus, knowing the back story is lagniappe, not necessity.

Elly and Lothaire are my favorites couple among the Loreans, despite an off-putting power imbalance.   A triangle consisting of a multi-millennia-old vamp, a psychotic former vampire goddess, and an iron-willed twenty-something country girl forced to share her body with with said goddess creates quite an interesting dynamic.  Ms.  Soraya [I-wanna- keeeelll] the Vampire Goddess is basically your straightforward evil bitch―greedy, homicidal, and frigid.  Aside from being a stone killer, the only trait she has in common with Lothaire is sneakiness, boding ill for a long term relationship.  Fortunately our heroine, Elly is pretty sly as well, only on her, it looks good.  There are so many ways in which the characters of Lothaire and Elly complement each other.  Even as they bicker, the reader recognizes the intelligence,  goal-orientedness (grammar checker doesn't recognize that as a word, but it totally is), lustiness, indomitable will, and the aforementioned sneakiness that they have in common.  Of course there is a slight age disparity to overcome, as well as the prejudice natural between an uber-powerful legendary monster and a young squirt inching into her third decade who is not only a lowly mortal and ex-con (Thanks, Soraya!) but a (gasp!) hillbilly.  Conflict is also provided at the outset by opposing goals:  Lothaire plans to obliterate Elly's soul so he can get it on with his supposed Bride; Elly needs to off herself in order to be rid of Soraya and Lothaire.   Unlike our hero, Gentle Reader totally recognizes  the destined Bride.

Cole opens the novel with a prologue set in Lothaire's childhood and uses it to show that her hero has both mommy and daddy issues as well as some deeply buried problems with self-esteem.  Then, when he's a grown vamp of 3000-something, he meets Elly a newly-minted psych graduate who proceeds to analyze the crap out of him.  This strikes me as absolutely hysterical.  It also makes the prologue-set-in-the-tragic-past device, which I normally despise, palatable.  The exchanges between Lothaire, who expresses himself like a dirty-mouthed four year old at times and a 16 year old mean girl at others, and Elly, who in spite of her terror is always calculating the best way to achieve her goals, are a grin fest for the reader. 

Peripheral characters are also a source of delight.   Besides the Valkyries, whom I adore, Thad, Hag, even La Dorada play a fascinating and often hilarious part in Lothaire and Elly's story.  Whether in snarky conversation or ironical circumstance, Cole is a mistress of humor that doesn't make the reader groan in embarrassment for her characters.  Humiliation is rarely undeserved and never insurmountable.  At one point, Elly, after a heavy make out scene with Lothaire, feels Soraya rising.  Rather than being upset, Elly is smug because virginal Soraya taking over Elly's messy, well-serviced body is a fair return for all the times Elly rose to consciousness covered in blood.  Soraya is, in fact, thoroughly grossed out.  I was all: Go Elly!  You give new meaning to the term spunky heroine!

In addition to the great characters and masterful humor,  Cole's world building is generally excellent.  The Lore is based on a believable substructure of rules and conditions and isn't unduly plagued by contradictions and unanswered questions.  The role of mortals in this world is a little problematical, as the relationship between the Lore and the mundane world is never satisfactorily explained.  One wonders how the humongous quantities of sex and violence produced by Loreans never seems to impinge on mortal existence.  The willing suspension of disbelief is a mite strained, and the reader's mantra becomes:  You're reading about the Lore, dammit; who cares about East Bumfork!

Much as I enjoyed Lothaire, a few caveats contributed to that minus sign after the A.  I mentioned my dislike of pity party prologues and my discomfort with the ill-defined role of the mortal world.  However, my strongest reservation has to do with that power imbalance between Lothaire and Elly.  While Elly's personal strength and courage allowed me to forget or discount that imbalance most of the time, there were moments when Lothaire's bullying came close to breaking her, and I could not ignore how powerless she really was.  Although Elly takes a lot of unabashed pleasure in sex play, and Lothaire never fully loses control, the power differential makes  most of their early encounters just a tad rapey.   There was at least one scene of “no-no-no……yes!” where the yes came a tiny bit late.  I hate rape scenes, especially disguised as love-making, but I think that ambiguity about sexual attraction can make characters more complex and interesting.  That said, I suspect that, for some readers, this would be a deal breaker.

Another possible deal-breaker is Cole's frequent use of extremely rough language.  Her Immortals swear.  A lot.  Frankly, I can't imaging these races of violence-prone maniacs saying “oh, darn” when they have an arm lopped off or reach an incredible sexual climax, but that's just me.  If you don't like dirty words, you won't be giggling every time Lothaire say “Do Pidzy.  Don't fucking care.”  The blunt language also extends to the sex scenes.  There are no flowery euphemisms here, thanks.  Nipples get sucked or bitten (vamps, remember?), not laved or, thank god, lathed.  Nor does Cole use medical terminology.  Neither lady parts nor vaginas, members nor penises, though she does avoid some of the cruder terms for the latter.  There is also a heavy-duty obsession with body fluids.  Sex scenes are detailed, frequent, and undeniably hot, but calling them earthy would be throwing roses at 'em.

In closing, I just want to note that I loved Lothaire both times I read it, and I expect that I'll read it again.  My taste in urban fantasy/paranormal romance runs strongly to supernatural sex and violence heavily laced with humor, because without the humor, the sex and violence gets to be a yawn after awhile.  I would recommend Lothaire to any reader who enjoys mismatches made in heaven, edged dialogue, immortal angst and multi-leveled hilarity.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Jen says:

    Awesome review! :)

  2. 2

    Awesome review—love this series.

  3. 3
    Nita says:

    Great review. I think what I liked most about Lothaire is he starts out selfish, violent, and insane and pretty much stays that way throughout the whole book. Besides his love for Elly, he’s not reformed in any way or presented as really a good guy. And I love him all the same.

  4. 4
    MissB2U says:

    Nice review! The scene at the end where he wakes up wearing a “wife beater”, (hate that name, is there something else to call it?), t-shirt cracked me up.  I totally agree about the language in the book, it got a bit much after a while.  I still love this series though; it’s wicked funny.  Nix is one of my all time favs.

  5. 5
    apxco says:

    I had the audiobook a while back and I usually love these books but I returned this DNF Elie and family were one redneck stereotype after another.  I couldn’t get past it.  Making the point they aren’t all racist {IIRC} helped, but not enough.

  6. 6
    delia says:

    Loved your review!

    Apxco: If I had listened to the audiobook first instead of reading it, I would have also DNF.  I enjoyed reading book so I picked up the audiobook to entertain me on a long car ride.  Thank goodness I got it at the library and didn’t waste money on it. The voices for the Lore characters were good but the “hillbilly” accent used for Ellie and her family was awful.  My family is from Appalachia, and I have never heard anyone with such an exaggerated accent.  The accent the narrator chose made the characters sound even more stereotypical than they were. Perhaps the narrator wanted to emphasize Ellie’s redneck roots with the accent but instead it transformed the characters into caricatures.

  7. 7
    Sarah says:

    Great review!

    I enjoyed the Immortals After Dark books I’d read a few years ago, but this book wasn’t on my radar at all. So thanks! I think I’ll be picking this one up.

    Although the rapey bit does make me a tiny bit nervous. But, like you said about the swearing, I don’t think a vicious vampire or other sorts of immortals would run saying “darn” – talk about bringing you out of the story. Although having just one character who did that would be hilarious.

  8. 8
    T. A. Grey says:

    I absolutely loved this book. Kresley Cole is my favorite paranormal author. Really in-depth review!

  9. 9
    Jessica says:

    The …. copious…. bodily fluids led a group of my friends to coin the phrase “jizzcuzzi” in regards to Lothaire’s output.  I heard that before I read it and was unable to keep a straight face throughout the book.

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