Thursday, April 19, 2012
On Gambling: A Review of Devil's Kiss by Zoe Archer
The Hellraisers are a group of bored and disenchanted men who make a deal with the devil for powers that suite their individual vices. Whit, the hero of our story, is a gambler, and he gains power over the odds. Zora, a young gypsy woman, tries to stop the deal from happening. When she fails, he is bound to Whit to do with as he pleases. Whit finds that he wants to seduce Zora, but without forcing her or using his powers. Sensing that there is still good in him, Zora sets out to help Whit undo the work of the devil and reclaim his soul.
You know what's a fun quality for a romance novel hero? Deep seated psychological addiction issues. No, really. I've noticed this trend, especially in paranormals, where the hero is messed up in all kinds of interesting, angsty ways that lead to bad habits and occasional substance abuse. The thing is, for reasons I can't and don't want to explain to myself, I love damaged heroes. Whit is an interesting character. His boredom with the world and his fascination with gambling give him just enough of an edge to make him a memorable hero.
I really like how Archer writes heroines. I like that they're always useful. Zora has legitimate power, she's smart, and she's not afraid to tell Whit off. She saves the day just about as often as she's saved.
So, predictably, with a likeable hero and a likeable heroine, we get an enjoyable romantic relationship. It's got tension and sex appeal and fire. Literally. There's ghost voyeurism. Great stuff all around.
Let's face it, the premise is a little tired. A lot of authors have done the band of brothers thing (you can't blame them, it's an excuse to write an extended series). Plus I've seen the souls-damned-to-hell-because-of-worldy-vices plot about a hundred times. At least it isn't a seven deadly sins theme. Gluttony isn't sexy.
I miss the wide scope of mythology that we saw in the Blades of the Rose books. Maybe it's not fair to compare, since this is kind of a different genre, but I can't help it. I like the unpredictability of a magical quest in some exotic place, where zombies or clay monsters might pop out at any moment. The pattern this followed was a lot more predictable, and a lot less captivating.
This is still a passably good paranormal romance. If you're new to Zoe Archer, I suggest trying the Blades of the Rose books instead. Otherwise, this book has it's merits and is fairly entertaining. 3 stars
Right now this book is available on Amazon for $1.99, a really sweet deal: Devil's Kiss