4 Rated Books 6 Rated Books Book Reviews

Novella Review: Untouchable by Kresley Cole

Title: Untouchable (one of two stories in the Deep Kiss of Winter anthology with Gena Showalter)

Author: Kresley Cole

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Pocket
Publishing Date: October, 2009
Hardcover 436 pages (the novella has about 240 pages)

Stand Alone or series: Part of the Immortals After Dark series but can be read as stand alone

Why did I read the book: This series is my literary crack

How did I get the book:
review copy from publisher

Summary: Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela the Ice Maiden — the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can’t be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure. Soon desperate for closeness, in an agony of frustration, Murdoch and Danii will do anything to have each other. Together, can they find the key that will finally allow them to slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?

Review: Kresley Cole’s Untouchable is one of two stories in the anthology Deep Kiss of Winter (the other story is Gena Showalter’s Tempt Me Eternally which I did not read as I am not acquainted with that series) and is set in the Immortals After Dark world. Kresley Cole’s books are my literary crack and I have read all of the novels and novellas in the series. I have enjoyed the first few very much but I am starting to feel a certain boredom and dissatisfaction with the series with the latest instalments. Untouchable has just cemented this feeling.

For all intents and purposes , I should have loved the story. This is the romance between the last of the Wroth brothers, Murdoch and the Valkyrie Daniela known as the Ice Maiden for her Icere (Ice Fey) half and at its heart it is a “Reformed Rake” story, my favourite romance trope. Murdoch was quite the ladies men, never attached to any woman until he became a vampire. One of the things he fears the most is to find his Bride (the vampire’s version of a life-mate) as he can’t think of anything worse than to be shackled to someone for eternity. That makes him absolutely unique in the world they inhabit (for all vampires want to find their Brides) but also amongst the heroes we have seen so far. It also provides some entertainment in itself as he asks those questions I am sure we all have asked at some point about the very idea of “mating”: Is he supposed to feel okay about being mated FOREVER with someone he hardly knows?

Even worse for Murdoch is the fact that Danii, as part Icere , is very sensitive to warm temperatures and is literally, untouchable or else she feels pain. She is hiding in New Orleans with her Valkirye coven because she is the rightful queen of the Icere, whose crown has been stolen and she has been a fugitive for about 2000 years. She has been unable to have any relationships and is very lonely – her reaction to being Murdoch’s Bride is one of relief until she realizes that he is not happy, at all.

And here is where I reach a problematic part of the review, with a conundrum.

Kresley Cole’s books are known for the oversexed characters and plot. Her books follow a recognizable pattern (loads of foreplay, and some conflict, then loads of sex) and that becomes part of the comfort in reading them. You always know what you going to get, in a very predictable manner. This book is no different, the sexing is scorching hot as usual, and is pretty good at that.

BUT, I find myself, as I said above, bored. Although each of Kresley Cole’s characters has individual traits that differentiate them from the characters from the previous books, the journey they make towards the happy ending is a very repetitive one. Without a strong world building in which to set the romance, the books are starting to read the same, every single time. Especially when I compare them to other paranormal romance series such as Nalini Singh’s and Meljean Brook’s; both these series have strong world building and stories that go far, far beyond the sexing. I had hoped Kresley Cole’s would go the same route (what with the Ascension and the Lore) but I lost that hope with the latest instalments.

Even though the conflicts, both internal and external, in this story are interesting to begin with, they come to a resolution, far too easy and fast. For all that Murdoch resists the pull of his Bride still he falls in that predictable pattern: endless pages of foreplay, displays of jealousy-possessiveness and his doubts being pushed aside because hey LOOK , her sex is glistening. Similarly Danii’s storyline with the Icere is solved ridiculously fast especially if you think this has been going on for two thousand years. In a matter of seconds, all that comes to a resolution with a Deus Ex Machina in the shape of an Icere guy who has “I am a future protagonist” written all over his hawt, tormented self.

The “conundrum” and “problematic” comes from the fact that there is nothing NEW here. All of the above happened in previous books which brings me to my point. If the books remain the same, it is I who have come to a crossroads – do I keep reading or do I part ways with the series? I read Romance books for more than the sex, and I think that the Immortal After Dark series, after that initial novelty feel, is not really for me. I do intend to read the next one, Pleasure of a Dark Prince because I have been waiting for that story since book one, but I have the strongest suspicion that that will be my last one.

Notable Quotes/ Parts: I thought his passage was funny – like an inside joke about these books’ tropes:

“Obviously, I need to leave,” she said while thinking, tell me I’m your Bride, and that I WILL be staying. Be an arrogant, possessive Neanderthal vampire! She wanted him to simply inform her that he would never let her go and she would just have to accept that, or whatever domineering misguided trip these manly men always said.

Verdict: If you read this series you know exactly what to expect. All left for you to decide is: is it worth paying Hardcover price to read another similar story that does not progress the main plot at all?

Rating: Well. If you are looking for good romance and hot sex, the story is effective – I would give it a 6. Overall plot is quite weak though – and that is a 4.

Reading next: The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V. S. Redick


  • Jellybean
    November 30, 2009 at 5:18 am

    It’s only a novella, it kinda comes with the territory that things will be wrapped up quick like. I didn’t enjoy this installment all that much, but I’m still loving the series. Overall I think the world building is coming along nicely, but of course you wouldn’t expect resolutions and revelations in a short novella like this one.

  • Mandi
    November 30, 2009 at 5:26 am

    I have lost some interest in this series over the last few books (especially Kiss of a Demon King – blech). However, I really did enjoy this one. I thought the chemistry between Murdoch and Danii was really well done – I liked the fact they were all sexed up but they couldn’t touch each other. I did think the action part was wrapped up too quickly/too easily and kind of a set-up for the new king dude.

    I liked how all the previous stories occurred during this book…it just wrapped up everything nice and neat – but I can see how that would be boring too 🙂

  • Ana
    November 30, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Jellybean – Actually I kinda WOULD. I don’t see novellas as “only novellas”: if they are published and people expect me to pay for them, then I want to see a good story in short format without coup outs only because they are novellas. And this one has more than 250 pages – that is a LOT for a novella. I have read several novellas – even shorter than this one, that are QUITE good. I refer you to Meljean Brook’s and Nalini Singh’s, Patricia Brigg’s and Marjorie Liu’s.

    I thought the chesmitry was good too, Mandi, but I have seen that before. I don’t know, I am going through a serious reading slump.

  • KMont
    November 30, 2009 at 6:13 am

    I would agree with Ana on a novella being able to have a resolution and even some possible revelations. To say this can’t be so is selling a very viable writing format quite short – no pun intended. Many writers grind their writing teeth on novellas and short stories and many become very good at it. It’s almost a different animal from the full length lovel in that it IS more fast-paced and so the writer is that much more challenged, with the shorter word count too, to provide readers with just as fulfilling and satisfying a read.

    I seriously doubt any writer of short stories sets out with the attitude that it’s “just” a novella and oh well, no one will really care in the long run if it isn’t as great as exciting as a full length novel.

    When I read them I do tend to give them a different look, because of that shorter word count. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to close that short story and feel breathless.

    That aside, I never really quite got into Cole’s IAD series. I read two that I really liked and any others I’ve tried after or before those were definitely too much alike. I do intend one day to finish her historicals though.

  • katiebabs
    November 30, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Writing a short story in a novella and still not delivering the goods just because it is a short and is believed not to have the same standards as a full length is ridiculous. If I am paying for something, I want the best quality regardless if the book is 500 pages or 200.

    I still love Kresley’s work but after reading a few Showalter books lately, hers have lost something and it feels as if perhaps Cole’s influence has become too strong on Showalter’s work.

  • Diana Peterfreund
    November 30, 2009 at 7:41 am

    They are different skillsets. It’s like running a sprint versus a marathon. Books are a marathon. You need to pace yourself differently, you have different concerns you need to keep in mind as you go. But they are both valuable forms. I know people who write great short stories but can’t seem to even finish a novel, and people who write great novels but can’t hack a short form.

    I wrote my first pro short stories this year (and non-pro, when it comes to that) since I was in college. After training all these years for marathons, it was quite the switch to become a sprinter!

  • Jellybean
    December 1, 2009 at 5:21 am

    I disagree that a novella and a full-length can be the SAME. This story still had good world building, I don’t think it was at all bad in that respect, but things do have to happen quicker. No one is saying that the meat of the story isn’t there, you just can’t devote as much time to this or that. Furthermore, I think the world building is generally more interesting to begin with. The developments still surprises me, which is a novelty with long-running paranormal series of this type. I wouldn’t agree that Kresley Cole is any less adept than the authors mentioned above. One of them in particular, I feel, is putting out work that is increasingly repetitive and very uneven in terms of quality.

  • Ana
    December 1, 2009 at 6:17 am

    I don’t think any of us is saying that they are THE SAME only that can expect the same QUALITY from both full length novels and novellas. I think the point I tried to make is that when we say “it’s only a novella” as an excuse for any problems we perceive with a novella is being quite dismissive of a perfectly viable format. If you can’t devote the proper time to a storyline, I think it’s better not to touch it at all. In this specific case, an entire new species is introduced, a 2000 year conflict presented and solved in what came out as a mere excuse to introduce a new character – the fey guy – who I am sure, will be a hero in an upcoming novel. Which is exactly my problem with Kresley Cole’s worldbuilding: most of it feels like afterthoughts to me, in the service of the main couple. Things coming out of left field (like the Vessel for example, or the Icere) are not unusual. This is not a problem per se, as long as the reader is ok with it. I am not, I usually tend to prefer worldbuilding being strongly built and well thought-out. But that is only me, of course.

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