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"You must become so free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." -Albert Camus

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Shadow's Claim - Kresley Cole There is one thing that stood out to me in this book and I just have to get it out before the jealousy overcomes me: It is so not fair that the heroine can bite her nails over and over again and they constantly re-grow. This is a nail-biter's wet dream.

Moving on, the only other book by Kresley Cole I'd read was Poison Princess, her venture into YA. Although I am giving both that book and this one four-stars, I have to say I liked her YA novel much more than this. I'm unsure as to whether I'll continue on with the series or not, whereas with Poison Princess, I definitely will.

So, why the four-star rating? Well, the world was fantastic! I loved being on different demon planes and learning about different kinds of demons. I loved that it was this weird blend of paranormal and high fantasy. I loved that each realm was different and unique. I loved some of the characters -- Salem, her perverted-yet-cunning sylph companion and Morgana, her over-the-top, sorceress godmother, for example.

I also really liked the main heroine, Bettina. I liked that she suffered from anxiety and panic attacks because I think that's something a lot of people can relate to. I liked that she found herself without the help of her powers. She could be powerful without them and Trehan may have helped her see that, but she's the one that put words into actions. I like that she becomes a powerful queen all by herself. Granted, she is pretty whiny before all of that, but I never found her to be annoying. I actually found her rather endearing.

I liked Trehan, too. As a love interest, Cole definitely could have created much worse. He's loyal and protective and, obviously, super sexy. I kind of like that he had to "woo her", so to speak. I liked that he wasn't perfect. He freaking goes batshit insane and it's awesome because the entire time he's been warning her that she's pushing him to his limit, but she just doesn't get it. I loved that he flipped out and went on some murderous rampage. We finally get a hero who loses his shit.

I need to get this off my chest, too. It's about Cas. Look, if my best friend were about to be offered up as a tournament prize to creepy demons - some that weren't even anatomical matches for her - I wouldn't care how unattractive she was, I wouldn't care about any repercussions - I would do whatever I could to make sure she wouldn't have to go through that. The fact that Cas wouldn't even sleep with her to prevent her fate was cruel, downright cruel. And the fact that she still follows him around like a lost puppy is disgusting. I'm sorry. I hope he never gets his own book because he is pathetic. That really made me mad. I understand it was a plot device used by Cole so that she could get the tournament to happen and so that Trehan could enter. Yes, I get that. But Cas should've had a helluva better excuse than, "Oh, I see you as a friend so I can't sleep with you. Sorry. Plus, I've been out all night will multiple female partners so I'm unsure if I can even get it up. Hope you don't get married to that troll that will probably destroy you if you have sex with him, though. That'd be a total bummer."


Okay, now, I'm unsure how I felt about the romance. Yes, there was a lot of male dominance and male possessiveness, but that doesn't exactly bother me in novels so much. What bothered me was the total lack of sexytimes! I think they had sex twice and sexual encounters about three times, which makes for: five sexytimes in a five hundred paged book. Just... what? What did I sign on for, here? With her YA debut, I knew there would be no sexytimes, but the world was interesting enough that they weren't necessary. This world, however, revolves around sexytimes. It is all about the sexual tension, that she's his fated Bride, she's going to be wed to the winner, she's a virgin... etc. I was a little bit shocked at how much they simply talked about sex instead of actually doing it. It just took her a really long time, like a really long time, to get over Cas. And I get it. He's her childhood best friend, she thought she was in love with him, etc. But I sort of just wanted to hit her over the head and make her see the awesomeness before her.

I could have done without the last fifty pages or so, too. The whole pitting-them-against each other thing kind of made me throw my hands up in exasperation. This book was long enough as it was! Maybe other readers loved the tension and the suspicion, but I found it to be exhausting.

But, this book was funny, it was clever and it was cute. Even though I had some hang-ups with the romance and even though I'm unsure if I'll continue on with the series, I would still recommend this book. It made me laugh and it was well-worth the read. (Note: I'll probably read the next book.)