IMMORTAL BELOVED (Immortal Beloved #1)
Nastasya has spent most of her immortal life hopping from club to club, city to city, drink to drink with her cadre of immortal friends. She doesn't work and doesn't care to, and has given up on finding a meaningful relationship as humans are too short-lived and immortals are the opposite, demanding a commitment she isn't willing to make.
Her closest friend Incy has been with her for nearly a century and they have partied their way across continents and through decades. She hasn't noticed his growing penchant for magick, the innate ability to wield power with which all immortals are born, not until his abuse of it's power one night outside a club. Seeing her dearest friend misuse his magick, and her subsequent decision to walk away from the gentleman he hurt instead of providing aid, causes Nastasya to have an epiphany.
Life has held no meaning for her for centuries, and she realizes she's ready for something else, needs something more than the dawn and dusk of a day that holds no joy. She sets off for a small town in Massachusetts home to a type of rehab for immortals who've gone astray, but in order to move forward, she must first look back and face a history perhaps more painful to endure a second time through.
I couldn't help but compare this story to Infinite Days. Both are stories of young women (in terms of appearance, not age) with brutal histories searching for a life with which they can begin again, free of the darkness that has defined their existence up to this point. Both Lenah and Nastasya have been desensitized by their centuries of life, and seek the ability to feel something other than interminable emptiness. They also both have a group of followers who are unhappy with their respective absences and seek to return them to the fold by any means necessary.
Nastasya isn't quite as beautifully tragic as Lenah. Lenah appreciates every moment of her second chance, takes in all the new sensations, feelings, and longings and breathes them deep so they may be embedded in her senses forever. Nastasya on the other hand, is unable to shake her elitist, socialite attitude and approaches her new beginning much in the way an addict might approach forced rehab. She scoffs at the other immortals and their interest in being something more, makes sarcastic quips to deflect personal interest, and constantly reminds herself that she won't be staying long. Though her attitude is understandable, it makes her somewhat difficult to connect with initially.
Despite her distracting immaturity at times, the relationship between Nastasya and fellow wayward immortal Reyn is a truly fascinating aspect of the story. At first glance, her attraction seems superficial and unoriginal. New girl sees gorgeous boy (or Viking God as she likes to refer to him), falls into lust, but is surprised by his instant and vehement dislike for her. Thus their relationship becomes increasingly antagonistic, but is laced with an underlying heat and passion. Again, not that uncommon. However, soon each page begins to reveal a new facet as more information is garnered, and ever so slowly new strands of mystery are woven, forcing the surface of their relationship to crack and unveiling a cavern of potential underneath.
Because the relationship is so interesting, I wanted to stay in the present and watch it unfold, making the continual flashbacks to Nastaya's former life a little frustrating. Her horrific past is necessary to understanding the present story, but it could have been revealed in one or two flashbacks as opposed to five or six, which would have let the reader burrow more deeply into the story instead of being yanked out just as circumstances get interesting.
In the end, Immortal Beloved is a story of finding acceptance and of caring for something after centuries of indifference. To be more than an empty vessel. To feel. Want. Hope. Dream. And to discover that the smallest joys can have the profoundest effect. I will certainly be picking up book two in the series since the book ends far stronger than it starts, and by the conclusion Nastasya has begun her transformation into a character that has the promise of being one who sticks in my memory.