Duncan's Descent
by Marie Harte, fantasy (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-60504-126-2


This is a short story by Marie Harte, and having read enough of this author's stories before, I now steel myself to encounter a weird and unexpected, often creepy, threesome boink scene that comes out of nowhere late in the story. Well, imagine my relief when such a scene is not forthcoming.

Duncan Sinclair (you may remember him from The Dragons' Demon) is a demon. Yet the poor fellow is now stuck in heaven, forced to sexually service angels and endure their annoying goodness in the process, and the poor man is not happy to say the least. If you want to know why, well, it's due to what he did to the angels in the previous story. I can't explain more without spoiling that story, so you're on your own, heh.

Uriel, the boss of the angels, plans to take revenge on Duncan's father by "corrupting" Duncan back to the light. He therefore appoints Sapphira, whom Duncan has encountered before in the previous story, as the person to watch over Duncan and make sure that he doesn't revert to his demonic ways in the thirty days that Duncan has to enjoy the hospitality of the angels. With Sapphira keeping him in the straight and narrow, Duncan has to sway human souls into the light instead of eternal damnation. If that is not annoying enough, poor Duncan soon realizes that his babysitter is a naughty angel who is yearning for a wild night out with a hot guy. In other words, Sapphira has been reading too many Harlequin Blaze books that she starts to imagine that she's a heroine in one of those things.

I have to say that I am surprised by how much I enjoy this story, given that my lukewarm reactions to the author's previous efforts. This one does nearly everything right: it has great humor, sizzling sensuality, and likable characters. The author crosses the line with a gag that involves incest, in my opinion, since that one is pretty tasteless, but since we are dealing with folks from Hell, I suppose such occasional tastelessness is to be expected. This is a short story, but it's one packed to the brim with feel-good moments, only to be topped by a most romantic declaration by Duncan. You know, I can believe he's actually earnest about the whole relationship. As for Sapphira, she may behave like a quintessential "I want an adventure" type of heroine, but she's a smart one that knows what she is doing.

I would suggest that you read The Dragons' Demon first to fully appreciate Duncan's Descent, but then again, I can barely remember much of the previous story but I can still appreciate this one, so who knows. I think Ms Harte and I can get along fine, if this story is anything to go by. As long as she warns me in advance whenever she's going to pull that "Surprise! Here's a creepy threesome!" thing on me, that is.

Rating: 85


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