by Rita Herron, fantasy (2009)
Grand Central Publishing, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-446-19948-3
Rita Herron's Dark Hunger is the second book in the series called The Demonborn. This is the first book in the series that I've read - I randomly picked a book from my book pile and I happened to pick this one up - but I manage to get a good idea of the story so far. Therefore, I'm pretty sure new readers will find this one a pretty good stand alone story too.
In this one, we have our usual liege of paranormal spooks co-existing with human beings. There are the Twilight Guardians, the good guys who guard humans from demons, and the Soul Collectors, the bad guys who go on murderous sprees and steal souls for their boss Satan. But in this one, our hero and heroine don't belong to any of these factions.
Quinton Valtrez is half-demon, but, raised by monks, he battles to suppress his darker instincts. Instead, he works for good - he's an assassin in a covert US government agency called the Ghost unit. Oh, don't worry, there is no genuine moral conflict here - Ms Herron makes it very clear that all the enemies of the United States that Quinton kills are not only arm dealers and what not, they are also deviants, pedophiles, rapists, and monsters who consort with skanky women who shave their private areas. Indeed, in this story, it's pretty clear that all acts of terrorism are committed by monstrous deviants who worship Satan. Yes, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are right all along about the enemies of the United States!
Meanwhile, Annabelle Armstrong is human. She's a reporter. She has met Quinton in the previous book, I think, and now she's suspicious about what he is up to. Our subtle reporter proceeds to break into his house (only to get caught) and call up his colleagues, because after all, enthusiasm is the key to success. Unsurprisingly, Quinton starts feeling conflicted because a part of him wants to shag her while the other part knows that he must kill her if she's on to him and she's one of the enemies.
Meanwhile, some Satanists are on the loose, bombing and killing some folks on Halloween's night while yammering and cackling about turning Quinton over to the dark side. Meanwhile, Quinton's long-lost brother Vincent has finally tracked down Quinton. I don't know why it takes so long - they are both working for Uncle Sam and they both use the same surname, and it's not as if Valtrez is a common surname, is it? At any rate, evil is dawning and the brothers will have to combine their powers to defeat the ultimate bad guy - their own father.
Okay, the plot of this book is more campy than sensible, with plenty of unintentionally comical moments. Still, it's a pretty nice change for once to read a paranormal story that doesn't have "mate mate mate" all over it. Okay, the hero still manages to sniff out the heroine now and then, so this story still has a heroine that doesn't change her underpants often, but on the whole, it's mostly free from the more overused tropes and conventions of romantic urban fantasies.
Meanwhile, Annabelle can be a twit while Quinton just keeps repeating himself (he is a loner, he wants to shag her, he wants no brother, repeat and rinse), but still, they are good enough to carry the story. It helps that the campy nature of the story has me taking these characters less seriously - in a different story, I'd most likely find them too flat for my liking. Their romance seems more about lust than anything else, but there are plenty of action to keep the adrenaline going. The campy nature of this story also has me taking it easy on some humorous attempts on the author's part to spice up the story. My favorite unintentionally funny scene is one where the heroine, while researching Quinton's background at her desk, gets so turned on by her thoughts of him that she has to take care of the business at hand right there and then. And conveniently enough, Quinton is spying on her at that moment, so these two people end up breathing very heavily together, if you know what I mean.
Dark Hunger works for me because it is entertaining in a campy B-grade movie way, complete with gratuitous violence, T&A, and corny lines. However, I can't say you will feel the same way, so approach this one with caution.
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