"You must become so free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." -Albert Camus
Larissa Ione writes good smut. I remember, oh-so-long ago, when I read her first book in the Demonica series, Pleasure Unbound. I was such an innocent, then. I'm a bit more experienced in the world of smut now and it takes a bit more than well done sex scenes for me to enjoy a book, but this plot had a lot going for it.
Sinead is an Assassin Master who sort-of-accidentally unleashed a plague upon werewolves that has been "lovingly" renamed Sin Fever. She has the unique ability to be able to give someone a disease simply by touching them, but when that goes wrong and that disease spreads to more than her intended victim, she realizes that she may have just accidentally caused a civil war.
Conall is a dhampire, a werewolf/vampire hybrid, who works at Underground General (a demon hospital) as a paramedic. When Con first met Sin (in the last book), they immediately felt a draw to each other that led to a quick tryst in the supply closet. Since then, and since she has unleashed a virus upon his species - albeit unintentionally - he wars with himself simultaneously hating her and wanting her.
So, yeah. There's a lot going on in this book: Civil war between werewolves; a virus that is killing off wargs at an alarming pace, creepy guys on horses, assassins and ownership, and, of course, the undeniable attraction between Con and Sin. For the first half of this book, I was really leaning at four stars, going on five. What brought it down for me was two things:
1) I am really having a hard time stomaching the whole male-over-female dominance thing. Sometimes, I can understand it, like when it's with werewolves and that's their pact mentality or what-have-you. But with Sin and Con? It felt weird. I don't remember being this uncomfortable since the second Demonica book, between Shade and Runa which I almost gave two stars because I sort of felt like he wanted to own her. While this book wasn't as bad, I certainly didn't think Con saw her as an equal until maybe the last 10% of the book. He kept seeing her as something to be protected and taken care of or even used, and I just wanted to scream at him: She is an assassin master for Pete's sake! The chica can handle herself.
2) Oh goodness, the sappiness at the end. Haha. I think this is just me, but that super happy ending at the end almost made me cringe with the corniness. A certain amount of corny, especially after all that Ione makes her poor characters go through in her novels, is appreciated, but I really felt like this book in particular took corny to a new level. I'm not saying this is a bad thing - some people might adore the ridiculously happy ending - it just wasn't for me.
Overall, I do really enjoy Ione's Demonica books. A lot. They have been fantastic reading experiences and I'm sorry to say goodbye to this series. It's the end of an era. I am very excited to start her Lords of Deliverance series, though, and I hope to see a few familiar faces in them.