Sweet Ruin is the sixteenth book in the Immortals After Dark series (inclusive of the Dacians mini-series), chronologically placing after Dark Skye. It was published in December 2015.
Back Cover Copy Edit
A foundling raised in a world of humans
Growing up, orphaned Josephine didn’t know who or what she was—just that she was “bad,” an outcast with strange powers. Protecting her baby brother Thaddeus became her entire life. The day he was taken away began Jo’s transition from angry girl…to would-be superhero…to enchanting villain.
A lethally sensual enforcer on a mission
Whether by bow or in bed, archer Rune the Baneblood never fails to eliminate his target. In his sights: the oldest living Valkyrie. Yet before he can strike, he encounters a vampiric creature whose beauty mesmerizes him. With one bite, she pierces him with aching pleasure, stealing his forbidden blood—and jeopardizing the secrets of his brethren.
A boundless passion that will lead to sweet ruin…
Could this exquisite female be a spy sent by the very Valkyrie he hunts? Rune knows he must not trust Josephine, yet he’s unable to turn her away. When Jo betrays the identity of the one man she will die to protect, she and Rune become locked in a treacherous battle of wills that pits ultimate loyalty against unbridled lust.
Plot Summary Edit
Eight-year-old Josephine Doe was found clutching her newborn baby brother Thaddie with no memory, put down to a head wound. Fiercely protective of her sibling, she roamed the streets to avoid separation from Thaddeus in the foster care system, living on meagre gains from picking pockets. Despite knowing she should keep a low profile, Jo couldn't help but subtly undermine bad guys in her town through pranks, culminating in an act of arson that led to her being shot in the head. Jo woke in a morgue, her body pushing spent bullets out, and believed she had become a ghost. After a brief telekinetic outburst of rage, she traces / teleports to exact revenge, in the process discovering her ability to be seen, to materialise at will, retractable claws, super-strength and hearing, as well as her need for blood. However, her looks alter so much that Thaddie, now officially adopted by the Braydens, does not recognise her and rebels from being taken away. Jo, realising that Thaddie was much better off with the Braydens, flees. She constructs a necklace from the bullets that killed her to remind herself to stay away from Thaddie for his own good.
Rune Darklight, a dark fey archer, awoke five members of the Møriør, who had been sleeping for the past five centuries in Perdishian Castle, capital of the Elserealms, located in the portable dimension of Tenebrous that had been steadily moving towards Earth. Four other members remained asleep due to their destructive natures, while two vacancies in the band remained unfilled. Rune gives the five access to his memories to update them on the happenings on Earth, and is unabashed when Allixta, the Overlady of Witches, derides him for his method of obtaining information - paying females, but in particular nymphs, in sexual acts in exchange for their help. The Møriør believe that Nïx the Ever-Knowing, the oldest living Valkyrie bordering on goddesshood, had orchestrated the deaths of several deities as a challenge, and Orion, their leader, a being of unknown origin, nature and form, but suspected to possess the ability to crush entire worlds, orders Rune to assassinate Nïx.
Jo, in the years since her separation from Thaddie, had developed a street cred for hunting down abusive men and punishing them. On one of her rounds in New Orleans, she chances upon Rune denying nymphs orgasms so as to extract promises to report to him on Nïx's whereabouts. Despite her disdain at his detachment from sex and lack of passion, she is attracted to Rune and intrigued by the revelation that as a dark fey, his bodily fluids are toxic even to immortals. Rune pursues Jo as she leaves, attracted by her scent and finds her captivating. He boasts to her of his unmatched skill in archery and explains the singular nature of the Darklight bow he carried, piquing her kleptomaniac nature, but falling flat in his attempts to flirt. Jo, disappointed that Rune did not know what she was, leaves without telling him her name and stealing his etched bone talisman.
(to be continued)