Last year, I picked up Cate Tiernan’s Immortal Beloved and I really, really enjoyed it. Which surprised me.

After all, with its tiny, self-loathing—and, of course, unbeknownst to her, secretly important and powerful—heroine and its muscle-bound, brooding male lead, it just looked like yet another entrant into the exhausting gladiatorial combat that the post-Twilight paranormal romance market has become. The characters even spell magic with a “k.” Which is way too far over the New-Age-shop-in-a-college-town line for me.*

Read the last Bookshelves of Doom on Obsidian Blade, SF for teens.

But, in Immortal Beloved, Tiernan did something I didn’t expect—she addressed my all-time most consistent issue with YA paranormals. I can deal with protagonists who are unreliable and/or unlikable. I can suspend disbelief when it comes to dragons or fairies or spaceships or zombie-hunting cowboys. But I can’t get past characters who do things that I find completely impossible to understand. And, what feels like hundreds of books later, I still don’t understand why these centuries-old dudes are always falling in love—and not just lust, which I would understand, but let me carry your schoolbooks and listen to you gripe about sharing your locker with your ex-best friend lurrrve—with high school girls. Sometimes it makes sense. Buffy and Angel? Logical. Buffy and Spike? Also works. But others—Edward Cullen’s attraction to Bella Swan, for a superobvious example—stump me.**

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The great thing about Immortal Beloved—and its sequel, Darkness Falls, which came out earlier this year—is multipronged:

A) Despite being 450 years old, our narrator, Nastasya, is completely immature, because...

B) As an immortal, she’s never had to deal with the consequences of her own actions as...

C) Whenever things get ugly, she just picks up and moves to a new place...

D) So now that she’s decided to Change Her Life, she’s got a lot baggage, and a lot of growing up to do (in addition to Evil To Face)...

E) And while her love interest, also immortal, is much further along on the path to maturity, their mutual head-butting-slash-attraction is both understandable and believable, because they can relate to each other’s life experiences.

Kudos to Tiernan. The only other time I’ve seen the immortality/immaturity concept played out—to this extent, discounting minor characters—was through Cassidy the vampire in Garth Ennis’ fabulous Preacher. And that’s not bad company to be in, regardless of how unlikely reader crossover would be.


*Seriously. Everyone has a few words that make them cringe. “Moist,” for example, is pretty broadly despised. Some people hate the word “tender.” I find the term “make love” so embarrassing that I’ve been known to plug my ears and hum to escape it. But words with extra “k’s” and “y’s” don’t embarrass me. They make me want to punch walls.

**I mean, yeah. He couldn’t read her mind. BIG DEAL. It’s not like there was much going on in there anyway.

Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.