Meet Arcadia Bell: bartender, renegade magician, fugitive from the law. . . .
Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.
But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.
Ah, Paranormal Romance, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. It has been a while, hasn’t it? And really, it’s not you, it’s me. You see, you’re kind of trope-y and more importantly, you have this annoying tendency to favor open-ended series. Not only do I still regret following Anita Blake as long as I did, I just read too much to want to make that kind of commitment anymore. And yet, I still picked you up. For one, Cady doesn’t have any ties to the the police or private investigation. Definite plus. The other big plus? Your kink is demons, and right now, mine is too! I love vampires as much as anyone, but it’s nice to mix it up once in a while.
I have to say, I’m glad I picked you up. One, there’s no beating around the bush here. No will she go with suitor A or suitor B or will it take five or ten books to actually get there. Nope! Cady gets herself a man right in the first book, and they consummate the relationship in the first book and it is hot. Oh, and another plus? Lon is a father! Someone with an actual kid! And when his son gets injured as a result of decisions Cady made, he actually gets mad! I mean, they do patch it up (and it’s not unreasonable that they did) but still, holy crap, and honest reaction to that kind of situation! I also dig that Cady actually spends some time with the son for all of its awkwardness. It feels real and grounded in a part of the genre that is often anything but. It’s refreshing!
I also like the world she’s started to build here. It’s well thought out, and the concept of the Earthbound – essentially weak demons stuck in human form – is a neat one and we actually get to see how her magic works in a way that doesn’t feel wedged in just to show it off. It has nice balance. It even has a nice tie-in to the main plot! Solid all around.
Also, and I just discovered this in my research for this review: this is a closed ended series. Four books, people. Four. Only four. Huzzah! Look, my dislike of open-ended series goes beyond simple time commitment: series with no definitive ends in sight tend to drift and lose their focus. At best, the series only drifts. At worst, you start seeing signs of author burnout and that just never ends well.
This is one of those genres that you either like or you dislike: it’s a genre that practically demands you don’t reinvent the wheel. And for the differences in this book, it’s still the same genre: you still have the spunky heroine. You still have the simmering tension and longing looks. You still have the danger that she gets herself into, and sometimes gets herself out of and sometimes she gets rescued out of. It’s a very fresh coat of paint, but the basics are all there. If you don’t like the genre, you may not like it. But if you’re like me and have been side-eying the genre for a while, then this is an excellent way to get back in to it.
P.S. Don’t let the cover art turn you off. It’s cheap looking, the kind that gets foisted off on untested authors, and the book is definitely better than its cover.
Verdict: Buy It