If you’ve been visiting my blog for a while you will know that “Pleasure Unbound”, was my favorite book of 2008, I have read it more than once and it holds a special place on my keeper shelf. Needless to say it’s been a very long wait for the publication of “Desire Unchained”, and I was a little worried that I would be disappointed. I’m happy to report, that I had nothing to be concerned about. Once I started reading ‘Desire Unchained’, I could not put it down. In fact, I read until the wee hours of Sunday morning even though I knew I was losing an hour sleep that night because of the time change. I love dark paranormal erotic romance mixed with urban fantasy and a touch of horror, and for me that is exactly what Larissa Ione’s Demonica series offers. The stories are laced with dark wit, that had me hooting with laughter, the world building is thorough and wonderful, and the plot is thrilling with twists and turns at every corner.
As a brief recap, the main setting of the stories centers in Underworld General Hospital, a facility that cares for all manner of demons, vampires and ghoulies. UGH was founded by three brothers Eidolon, Shade and Wraith, who are Seminus demons. Each of the brothers has the same father but different mothers. The reason for this is that at one hundred years of age, Seminus demons reach their final maturation cycle and essentially go though a metamorphosis called the S’genisis that results in them being able to reproduce. If their sexual urges are not satisfied they lose control to the point that they will rape without care because of their intense sexual needs. If they are bonded, it is only their lifemate that can satisfy their enormous sexual requirements. Seminus demons are incubi, these guys have sex on the brain 24 hours a day. They are huge in stature, and have tattoos or ‘dermoires’ that shimmer and writhe depending on their mood or state of arousal. They also have a unique marking that is specific to the seminus demon on their neck or throat that sort of activates when they are mated. They have amazing eyes that change color in anger or lust. The sems are just majorly HOT.
While UGH provides the main setting for the stories, the essence of the Demonica world IMHO is explained in “Pleasure Unbound”, the first book of the series and certainly expanded in “Desire Unchained”.
On page 233 of “Pleasure Unbound”, ‘Eidolon’ explains the “Daemonica”, a tome that reveals how the demons came to be in Larissa Ione’s fictional world thus:
“Basically, demon lore says that after Satan was banished from Heaven, he was allowed to create his own races. But, because humans are born good and can be turned evil, God insisted that the same, but opposite, should apply to creatures born evil. Satan created some species from his own twisted imagination, and others…he used animals as foundations for some, humans for the rest.”
Shade is the head paramedic at Underworld General and as he wakes up in a dungeon chained to a wall, laying on cold concrete, the last thing he remembers is be called out on an ambulance run with his sister and fellow paramedic Skulk. On the other side of the cell, also chained to the wall is his previous lover Runa who he hasn’t seen in over a year.
Runa Wagner was a sexually inexperienced human when she became intimately involved with Shade. She fell in love with him only to have her heart broken when she walks in on him in bed with two demons in a very compromising situation. Runa runs away grief stricken and horrified that night and is attacked by a werewolf that mauls and badly injures her. She nearly dies but is rescued by her brother who is with the military and takes Runa to a secret government instillation where she heals. However, she contracts the lycan infection and becomes a werewolf. Runa is not a happy camper. She blames Shade for her condition because of the events prior to her attack. Runa has also been tasked with infiltrating UGH and passing information to the government agency that was instrumental in saving her life.
Shade is surprised to learn from Runa that Ghouls who are harvesting body parts to sell on the underworld black market are their captors. The antagonist in this novel is a demon and a sociopath, he is absolute evil incarnate. I was completely taken by surprise when the identity of their capture and torturer is revealed. I will say that this creature has one maniacal goal and that is the painful destruction of all three brothers
Seminus demons are very conflicted by nature, they are demons after all, and have a dark side. However Eidolon, Shade and Wraith (even though he would never admit it), also possess an inherent goodness. All Sems are born pureblood males but inherit minor traits from their mother. In Shade’s case, he has the ability to accelerate the healing process in the injured. Shade was born and raised by demons who are a deeply nurturing species, and secretly he wants to be mated and have a family. However, Shade is under a love-curse that prevents him from ever mating, because if he falls in love, he will die and suffer torturous anguish for all eternity. Shade also has another issue that you will have to read about in the book that has caused him great emotional pain over his long existence.
After Shade endures physical torture, their captor manipulates his and Runa’s minds so they bond while essentially in a dream state. The consequences are the same however; Shade is bonded to Runa, physically, and telepathically. Seminus demons need sex, a lot, or they die and once they are bonded, their mate is the only one that can fulfill that need. Then there is the additional problem that Shade cannot allow himself to fall in love with Runa.
Following a harrowing escape from their captor’s lair. Shade takes Runa to his secret hideaway in Costa Rica where they become reacquainted. Shade also discovers something new and unforeseen about himself when he leaves Runa for a brief visit to Underworld General.
As their relationship intensifies, Runa confesses she has never been out of love with Shade. His feelings eventually become reciprocal. I was chewing my fingernails wondering what the outcome of their love story was going to be in what seemed an untenable situation. The bond between these creatures isn’t only sexual; it is an emotional, physical and a telepathic linking. The desire literally pulses between them. It is a soul deep connection that they cannot deny.
The climax to this story is absolutely riveting when all three of the brothers are captured and imprisoned in the lair of the same psychopath that had Runa and Shade. My heart was sitting right up in my mouth reading and turning pages as swiftly as possible to find out how their story would be resolved.
There is a bittersweet romantic subplot written between half demon physician Gem (Tayla’s sister), and Kynan the former human Aegis warrior. My heart broke for this couple, however Larissa penned a cliffhanger to their story, so I am hoping for a happy resolution in “Passion Unleashed”.
Larissa certainly expanded the Demonica world in Desire Unchained introducing all manner of interesting and on occasion frightening creatures. The stage is also set for Wraith’s story, and I feel very fortunate because I was sent an advance review copy of “Passion Unleashed”, and while time hasn’t allowed me to read a great deal of it yet, I can tell already I will likely be undone.
“Desire Unchained”, now has its place next to “Pleasure Unbound”, on my keeper shelf and I will, I’m sure be reading it again.
If you are interested please look for my thoughts with respect to “Passion Unleashed” next week.
Don’t forget about Larissa Ione’s “Spread The Word Contest” which runs until April 3, 2009.