Love Enshrined is Phury and Cromia's story. In my estimation, it is the weakest offering in an otherwise fantastic series. The pace of the story is sl...moreLove Enshrined is Phury and Cromia's story. In my estimation, it is the weakest offering in an otherwise fantastic series. The pace of the story is slow, and the characters are annoying. Phury had so much potential. I loved his portrayal in the prior Blackdagger novels. He was so noble, always sacrificing for others. But whow...seeing him go through hundreds of pages of drug addiction just wasn’t my cup of tea. And Cromia? Sweet, but so BORING! Their whole relationship just fell flat for me – there was so much drama and pain, yet I couldn’t bring myself to care whether or not they ended up together. I was far more concerned with just getting through the book. Fortunately this book is well balanced by the rest of the fantastic novels in this series. (less)
Lover Mine is John and Xhex’s story, and it’s another one Blackdagger novel that fell flat for me. Anyone that reads my reviews knows how massively im...moreLover Mine is John and Xhex’s story, and it’s another one Blackdagger novel that fell flat for me. Anyone that reads my reviews knows how massively important likeable character, and realistic character development is to me. Normally Ms. Ward excels in these areas, but I felt Lover Mine was a big letdown in that department. I never really liked Xhex as a mate for John and this book didn’t change my opinion. She’s too damaged goods, too butch, and runs away far too quickly. Her character development in this story is spectacular though. She grows a in a lot, which I appreciated. This contrasts sharply with the state of poor John’s character development. What happened to the sweet boy I loved so much in the first books? John is angry, very, very angry. He seems less mature in this book than he did in all the books prior (even pre trans John made better decisions). He spends most of the book pissing on everyone that cares about him to the point where I wanted to crawl through the pages and smack him. The novel has a happy ending, and leaves me with hope I’ll see the old John back in future books, but overall, Lover Mine felt like one of the weaker offerings in this fantastic series.
Pleasure Unbound is one of those novels I was almost embarrassed to buy. I mean just look at it! The title screams erotica. And then there’s the blurb...morePleasure Unbound is one of those novels I was almost embarrassed to buy. I mean just look at it! The title screams erotica. And then there’s the blurb: “She’s a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her… Eidolon [a demon] makes her body burn with unslakable desire.” Umm… yeah. So no pretending this book is anything but what it is, and the premise sounded cheesy at best, which made me avoid it for the longest time. I still see myself as a geeky sci-fi/fantasy reader – and haven’t quite reconciled my self-image with my fledgling addiction to romance novels. But here we are. I finally caved and purchased Pleasure Unbound, and loved it enough to give it four stars. How did this a novel with such an apparently ridiculous premise win me over?
First and foremost, I think the blurb writer for this book needs to be smacked. It seriously sells the novel short. It’s focusing on all the wrong things. Don’t get me wrong – the Pleasure Unbound chalk full of smut, but it also has amazing world building, a real plot, and a lot of depth to the characters. Why couldn’t we write a blurb focused on those elements?
One of the things I appreciate most about Larissa’s writing style is the way she deals with her characters. Every character in is likeable – even the supporting cast – and it’s not because they are amazing, flawless specimens of humanity (or demonkind). Actually they are all quite flawed, but Ms. Ione does some fantastic character building with phycology to back her up. She makes you love her characters not because they are perfect, but because they are flawed with room to grow throughout the story. It’s wonderful. In this sense, this author reminds me a bit of JR Ward. Both authors build their novels around profoundly broken, but loveable characters.
Quite unexpectedly, Pleasure Unbound contains topnotch world building. The author didn’t simply write a steamy romance, set against some ill-conceived, half-baked backdrop. Quite the contrary – it’s obvious she did a lot of research on different types of demons, and probably created a few classes of her own. Some of her demons are truly evil, others not so much. They all feed off some element of human reality. There are complicated political layers hinted at in the various demon and vampire societies. Ms. Ione builds a world that feels feasible and deep.
As the smutty blurb reminds us – there are a lot of “bodies burning with unslakable desire” in this novel. In this regard, the blurb does not mislead. There is a LOT of sex, graphic sex even, but fortunately it occurs between only two people (no triangle here), and the smut is nicely balanced by real romance which feels genuine because you like the people involved. The love story occurs between Tayla and a demon named Eidolon. I loved Eidolon – he hit all the right romance buttons for me. He’s honorable and loyal to a fault. He suffers terrible things for people he cares about, and never utters a word of complaint. The fact that he’s ridiculously hot and a doctor doesn’t hurt either. Their love definitely has a Romeo and Juliet feel, but it never feels too heavy or depressing. The sex kicks off quickly, but the romance develops at a slow and believable pace.
This novel raises some interesting points about judgment and prejudice. It challenges pre-conceived concepts of evil and good. The story is complex, and relatively unpredictable. The characters are amazing. If you are a fan of the paranormal romance genre, and enjoyed JR Ward’s work, then I highly recommend Pleasure Unbound. I was floored by the quality of this novel, and definitely look forward to reading the rest of Larissa’s work.(less)