Every five hundred years, the Lore, a varied group of mythical Immortals, make their alliances and go to war in the Accession. Each faction makes its own ties, but they are roughly split into the good Vertas and the evil Pravus (though both are very violent and no faction can claim to be uniformly 'good'). As one book describes it, the Accession is a series of events that, "about a decade into it, ... [begin] to come into play, as if fate was seeding future deadly conflicts, involving all the players at a startling rate. Like windmill vanes on a rusted spoke, it began creaking, creeping to life, only to gain momentum and soar with speed every five hundred years."Humans within the series have mistaken this for an Apocalypse type battle, but the Lore itself rather looks forward to Accessions as they shake the monotony of immortal life, cull the population of Immortals, realign the factions, and tend to bring mates together.The series often takes place in New Orleans, which the soothsayer and Valkyrie Nix the Ever-Knowing (AKA Nucking-Futs Nix) predicts will be the main 'battlefield' of this Accession. The first few books alternate between the vampiric Wroth brothers and the Lykae clan Macrieve. The next few tell more about the other species of Lorekind, including the Demons, Sirenae and the Berserkers.Definitely a case of Our Monsters are Different, Immortals After Dark is a Paranormal Romance series by Kresley Cole with ten full length novels (some over 500 pages long) and two short stories published in anthologies. Also has a spin off series with one book so far.The books are:
A Hunger Like No Other: The half-Vampire Emmaline Troy finds herself captive to the Lykae Lachlain Macrieve, who is determined to claim her as his mate.
No Rest for the Wicked: The Vampire soldier Sebastian Wroth is caught up in the world of the Hie— a race for sorcerous prizes the his reluctant Bride is determined to win.
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night: Bowen Macrieve, Lachlain's cousin, participates in the Hie for the chance to bring back his long dead Mate. The contest reveals a twist of destiny for him and the witch Mariketa.
Dark Needs at Night's Edge: Conrad Wroth is captured by his brothers in an attempt to rehabilitate him from his blood-born madness. Trapped in an abandoned New Orleans mansion, he is soon beguiled by another occupant—a ghostly girl who sets his once dead heart beating.
Dark Desires After Dusk: Cade, brother to the Demon King, finds his Bride in a newly-born Valkyrie named Holly. But Holly is terrified of his demonic origins and of the Lore which is her new life.
Kiss of a Demon King: Rydstorm Woede, the demon king who has lost his crown, is captured by Sabine, a sorceress who plans to use him for her own reasons. But while Rydstrom plots his escape, he is sure of one thing—he will have Sabine for his own, on his terms.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince: Garreth Macrieve is inexorably drawn to Lucia the Huntress, a valkyrie who never misses her shot. From the shadows, Garreth has long watched over Lucia. Now, the only way to keep the proud huntress safe from harm is to convince her to accept him as her guardian.
Demon from the Dark: Half-vampire, the demon Malkom Slaine has long fought his hunger. But the green-eyed Witch, Carrow Graie, awakens a new hunger in him, even as he guards her life.
Dreams of a Dark Warrior: the warlord Aidan is doomed to die for his love, the Radiant Valkyrie Regin. Her love brings him to a new incarnation, but each time he remembers his past, he is once again killed. Can Regin find a way to love him without telling him what he is?
Lothaire: Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, has been playing his Endgame for millennia. His goals? Avenge his mother, become king of two Vampire kingdoms. He needs the vampire goddess Saroya as his wife to take control of the kingdoms. Saryona needs a body to incarnate into. The last obstacle in his path is a 24 year old mortal girl who is the current occupant of the body Saryona wants. He's killed girls like her for breakfast for thousands of years. So what is it about Elizabeth Peirce that stops him from achieving all the goals he has sacrificed everything for?
MacRieve: Uilleam Macrieve, Lykae and one half of the Hot and Hotter twins after his escape from the Order's island is reliving his torture at the hands of a Succubi. He goes to an auction and steals Chloe Webb, daughter of the man responsible for his torture because she's his mate. And as it turns out also Succubi. Can he get past his trauma and begin a new life with one of his enemy?
Dark Skye: Coming May 2014. The story of Melanthe, Potential Queen of Persuasion a Sorceri and Thronos, a Vrekener whose father was killed by Sabine the same day Lanthe tried to kill Thronos and crippled him for life.
And the short stories The Warlord Wants Forever (from the anthology Playing Easy to Get) which is chronologically the first story, and Untouchable (from Deep Kiss of Winter), which finishes off the Wroth brothers and runs concurrently with everything from the first chapter of The Warlord Wants Forever through to about the end of Pleasure of a Dark Prince.The Dacians
Shadow's Claim: Trehan, prince of shadows and master assassin finds his Bride, Bettina. The catch, she's already in love with his current target, a playboy Demon, Caspion. Further complicating matters, Bettina is offered up as the prize in a to-the-death competition. Can Trehan win her hand and her heart? First he has to survive his competitors.
In fact, Cole likes overlapping her books so the nine books take place over a very short period of time, so you hear about things that happen in the book previous or get hints about what is coming up in the next one, or see the same scene from different points of view (like the "f-ing monster mash" that was done from Annika's POV in A Hunger Like No Other and then from Lucia's POV in Pleasure of a Dark Prince). As of Pleasure of a Dark Prince only a year has passed.Major groups in the Lore include:
The Valkyrie — Valkyrie have three parents, a mother (who can be human or one of many factions of the Lore), and the gods Woden and Frejya. When a maiden warrior screams in defiance and courage as she dies in battle, the gods strike her with lightning, rescuing her to Valhalla. She is healed (and, if human, still mortal) but pregnant with an immortal Valkryrie daughter. The Valkyrie revere three things: fate, fighting, and shopping. If the series overall has a lead character, it is Nix — often known as Nucking Futs Nix — the oldest Valkyrie, who is three thousand years old and sees the future more clearly than the past or present.
Vampires — 90% of the Lore feels that there are two kinds of vampires: dead ones, and should-be-dead ones. Pretty much no race is as universally hated as vampires. But within the vampire race, there is a splinter group called the "Forebearers" who are almost all turned humans (rather than born vampires) and who abstain or "forebear" from drinking from living creatures. They fight the main vampire faction, the Horde, who kill as they drink and descend into madness doing it, while their eyes turn redder the madder they get.
Lykae — Scots werewolves. More human-like than a lot of the Lore (they eat food, among other things) and considered little more than noisy, smelly beasts by a lot of other Lore species. (They are not wrong.)
House of Witches — Mystical mercenaries that sell their spells. A lot of the Lore resent that they never do anything without reference to the almighty dollar, but, as one of the witches puts it, they learned long ago that witches that lived in nice houses and had the ear of the king got BURNED TO DEATH a lot less often. Witches are born, not made, and are immortal.
Demons — Catch-all term for several races with strength, speed, immortality and horns. Some demons ally with the Horde and are enemies of most of the rest of the Lore, while others ally with factions like the Valkyrie and the Noble Fey, and fight the Horde.
For a romance series, the books can get very violent but also very funny as some of the characters are smartasses and some others are flat-out insane. Crowning Moments of Funny are scattered throughout the books along with Nightmare Fuel - compare the line "Two things that can never be contained? Velociraptors and zombies." to Furie's fate, trapped beneath the ocean to drown, revive, and drown again throughout eternity. Still, the series is fairly lighthearted. Lampshades are hung with wild abandon off of every conceivable surface, and a few inconceivable ones.The heroines are especially notable for not letting their mates get away with things that would normally slide in a romance novel and averting the regular romance heroine stereotypes — some of them really got around before settling down and some of them are morally ambiguous, even after mating and/or allying with the Vertas.Now has a Character page.
Tropes used in the series:
All In The Manual: There's a large glossary of characters and the species on KC's website.
The Big Easy: Many of the books take place whole or in part in New Orleans, since a good chunk of our heroines belong to either the Valkyrie coven or the Witches coven there. And even if you don't live there, you're likely to drop by to get Nix's take on something.
Brains and Bondage: a definite case of Author Appeal, almost all of Cole's heros and heroines are smart enough to converse about complicated Scientific concepts and do it while chained to a bed. Their intelligence is helped by most of them being Really 700 Years Old.
Buried Alive: the characters are convinced this is the fate of Furie, Queen of the Valkirye. To be precise, she is supposed to be buried under the ocean, and she continues drowning and coming back to life (being an immortal) and making this a case of And I Must Scream. In A Hunger Like No Other, Demestriu tells Emma that he doesn't know where Furie is, and that Lothaire is the one who "took care of it". However, in Dreams Of A Dark Warrior, Lothaire claims he doesn't know where Furie is anymore, at least.
Covert Pervert: Neomi, during her years as a ghost that no one could see.
Of course, as soon as someone (Conrad) can see her, she jumps straight back into her normal Good Bad Girl self.
Divine Parentage: a Valkyrie is born when a female warrior's scream as she dies in battle catches the attention of the gods Freya and Wňden, who decide they want to "take her courage and preserve it for eternity because it was so precious." The warrior wakes up healed, but still mortal, and soon gives birth to an immortal daughter, who will posses "her courage, Wóden’s wily brilliance, and Freya’s mirth and impossible beauty". You can read the short story on the author's website here.
Eternal Love: all the couples in the books. After all, it IS called Immortals After Dark. Also, many of the races have "fated mates" of one kind or another that are irresistibly drawn to each other. As Lachlain puts it, "Marriage isn't as serious. Marriage can end."
Funetik Aksent: for some reason characters with Scottish or Irish accents have these, almost to an annoying degree. Rydstrom and Cadeon's South African accents and Neomi's French accent aren't treated this way (unless the Valkyrie are mocking them).
Cade: You’re not the good girl you used to be. You get drunk and carouse with demons, sitting on their laps and giving them horn jobs in front of an audience. You went rock star on this poor mom-and-pop motel room. And just last night, you got me to show you my goods, though I was vulnerable and weak from a bullet wound.
Cade: Face it, Holly, you’re a bad girl.
Fur Against Fang: The Lykae and vampires were this; now an uneasy truce has been made between the Lykae and Forbearers, mostly because they're inlaws.
Genre Savvy: Witches and vampires buy good PR so that they are seen as sexy myths. Werewolves scorn PR, and they get movies like The Beast Must Die.
Immortality Begins at Twenty: All the immortals who are born to their immortality are this, aging regularly into adulthood and "freezing" into their immortality when they are at the age best suited for survival. Tends to be mid-twenties for women and early to late-thirties for men. Before "freezing" wounds will scar, limb loss is permanent and people are generally as fragile as a human.
Averted, with the turned immortals, most commonly vampires amongst the Forebearers. These are the age they were at death and retain all scars and healed injuries from their life. The same may apply to turned Lykae, only one has been shown so far and details were scarce.
Also averted with the Berserkers, who are mortals that are considered a part of the immortal world, they can gain ohalla and become immortal if they win a number of battles wearing Odin's mark.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: STRONGLY averted; a high percentage of the heroes in the novels are less experienced than the heroines, and at least two are outright virgins.
Love Redeems: Rydstrom believes this - whether this actually works on Sabine is debatable. Lothaire and Ellie seem to be a strange subversion - Ellie's love brings Lothaire back from the edge of madness, but he's definitely still evil, as proved by La Dorada's ability to control him. until La Dorada bade him to harm his Bride. Love conquers all: That command broke her hold on him.
Mayfly-December Romance: in Dark Needs at Night's Edge, Conrad/Neomi are this after she becomes human or so they think; it's also the reason Cade tried to stay away from Holly for so long in Dark Desires After Dusk before finding out she was half-Valkyrie.
May-December Romance: Pretty much all of the stories have this to some degree. Interestingly, the women play the 'December' part about as often as the men.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Of the trailing names variety. Let's see, there's Lothaire, the Enemy of Old; La Dorada, the Sorceri Queen of Gold and Evil (especially impressive since a Sorceri Queen is the magic user with the strongest talents in their field); Cadeon the Kingmaker (a mercenary); Kaderin the Coldhearted (an assassin); Omort the Deathless; Nix, the Ever-knowing, the Proto-Valkyrie and Soothsayer without Equal.
No Periods, Period: Races like the Valkyrie that do not need to eat never have a period; they need to eat "normally" for at least six weeks or so before they can get pregnant (and continue eating through the pregnancy).
Not So Different: Ellie and Lothaire - his 'predictions' and her 'empathy' and Lothaire and Nix with their endgames.
Opposites Attract: Most of the couples, because of the different species. Especially Valkyrie-Vampire, Valkyrie-Lykae, Demon-Sorceri, and Lykae-Witch.
Also Author Appeal, as Cole likes the drama involved in different cultures clashing.
Older than They Look: Pretty much a given when some of the characters are thousands of years old. Nix takes the cake, though — three thousand years old and looks about 20.
Averted with Elyianna, who wears a Glamour to hide the fact she looks her age.
Our Demons Are Different: there are many, many demonarchies and each is its own 'race' of demons with their own culture and home plane of existence. Some demonarchies mentioned in the books so far: rage demons (like Cadeon and Rydstrom), smoke demons, pathos demons, fire demons, and the Vrekener.
Our Ghosts Are Different: Dead, lingering human spirits are ghosts: they have limited telekinetic power, need rest to recharge, and are bound to one location. Phantoms are true beings of the Lore with unbelievable amounts of power, the ability to teleport anywhere, and are capable of taking a on a physical form; they're described as shape-shifters who shift between living and spectral.
Our Werewolves Are Different - the Lykae transform but it's not a fully physical transformation; instead, they transform partially and the image of their beast overlaps the Lykae in question. A shifted Lykae is physically the strongest being in the Lore.
Our Vampires Are Different - there are two factions: the Horde, which drinks blood from the vein and kills its victims, and the Forbearers, who are sworn never to drink blood from the vein (except from their Brides). Guess which are the good guys. Also, they're dead - they don't breathe, their hearts don't beat, and they can't, you know, until they meet their Brides, their fated mates, at which point bodily functions return to them. They gain memories from blood they drink directly from the vein - between a vampire and his Bride, it's another intimacy; between one of the Horde and their prey it's Mind Rape and too many of these memories will drive a vampire mad. Halfway through the series, a third faction of Vampires is introduced. Known as the Dacians, they live in an enormous underground kingdom equipped with Blood fountains, a mist that they can teleport in and out of, and a complex political society.
Our Zombies Are Different - there are revenants, zombies controlled remotely by Sorceri; ghouls, mindless and infectious zombies that seem to travel in packs (the stereotypical zombies); and the Wendigo, swift, cunning, cruel, and extremely infectious undead who even the Loreans tend to be wary of. Lothaire discovered the Wendigo's weakness, salt, and reveals that it can temporarily blind Wendigos and be used on Wendigo bites/scratches to prevent the infection from taking hold.
Pointed Ears: Most of the fey, the nymphs and the Valkyries have pointed ears
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Vampires who drink blood directly from the vein to the deaths of their victims have red eyes. They turn black with strong emotion.
Reincarnation Romance - the premise of Dreams Of A Dark Warrior, with a slight twist: the only one who keeps getting reincarnated is Aidan, since Regin is immortal. And each time he remembers his past lives, he dies. And in Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, Bowen thinks the reason he's attracted to Mariketa is because she's his dead mate Mariah's reincarnation it turns out she's not; Mariah was never his true mate to begin with
Retcon: Cole first implied that all vampires who drink form the vein received the memories of their victims. The lead to a few plot convolutions between vampire's and their Brides who had secrets. It also allowed her to portray backstory without going into long bouts of exposition. With the release of Lothaire, she retcons this whole thing by making it a trait that Lothaire and his half-brother Kristoff pass onto their offspring. Now, it seems only vampires sired by Kristoff and Lothaire have the ability. Further, in the Dacian series, it is revealed to be something the Dacians fear, which is why they do not drink real blood.
This is YMMV as Nix said it was a rare ability in A Hunger Like No Other and it was later revealed to belong only to offspring of the royal line.
Royals Who Actually Do Something In the epilogue of Kiss Of A Demon King, Sabine and Rydstrom are this; they are trying to "ease [the kingdom] out of medieval times", which includes, for example, building new roads
Sherlock Scan: Ellie has a degree in psychology and she knows how to use it.
Spinoff: The Dacians - Realm of Blood and Mist. Set in the same world but featuring Lothaire's Dacian cousins.
Stalker with a Crush - Nix is this for Mike Rowe. He contacts her under the pretext of his lawyers filing a 'request' that she leave him alone - AKA, a restraining order. Also, in a not-played-for-laughs, protective way, Cadeon for Holly, mostly because she was human and therefore off limits when he met her.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Lothaire claims he doesn't know where Furie is. Well, ocean waves and tectonic shifts make it hard to predict where she is NOW, but he sure knows where he dropped her INTO the ocean...assuming he didn't forget.
Technicolor Eyes: If the eyes aren't already vivid in some way, then strong emotion is sure to turn them a species-specific color that serves as an Uh-Oh Eyes warning.
Took a Level in Badass: Holly; Emma when she kills the king of the Horde vampires, earning the name Emma the Unlikely ; also Neomi when she becomes a Phantom.
Vain Sorceress: All of the Sorceri, apparently, as they all wear elaborate headdresses and metal - usually gold - armor/clothes. Sabine is noted as being especially vain, though, even for a Sorceri... so she's essentially this trope, magnified.
Waif-Fu: Namechecked specifically by Nix; the Valkyrie in general are small and delicate-*looking*, but can hand the asses of much larger creatures back to them.
Warrior Prince: Cade is a mercenary warrior, called the Kingmaker, and also a prince, being the younger brother of Rydstorm, the Demon King. Also Garreth, younger brother of Lachlain, King of the Lykae.
Webcomic Time: The series has been published for 6 years and the actual event take place over a year and a bit.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Holly initially, when she wants to stay a mortal. Everyone else seems to enjoy their immortality, although it occasionally gets lonesome without a mate.