by Larissa Ione, fantasy (2009)
Grand Central Publishing, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-446-40105-0
Passion Unleashed is the third book in Larissa Ione's Demonica series. In case you are not aware, Demonica is French for "I write love letters to the rapists locked up in my neighborhood high security prison facility". After all, the Seminus demon heroes in these stories take on the guises of other males to sleep with and impregnate their victims. Our hero in this one, Wraith, in fact has no ambition in life other than to sleep with and impregnate anything female without consequences. He's this close to achieving that ambition, were not for the interruption on his ding dong life by the Virgin Purity Hoochie of Redemption belonging to our heroine Serena Kelley.
This book can't stand alone, I'll be upfront about this. The synopsis of this review will lead some people to believe that it is a self-contained story, but that is because I am forcefully ignoring all the subplots and set-ups for future books in this one. It is impossible to describe them all without making references to the two previous books, and frankly, I don't think it is worth my time and effort. The Demonica series isn't shaping up to be some sober urban fantasy arc, it's becoming a soap opera all about who will sleep with whom. And you know how it is with soap opera plots, I'm sure. Trying to explain them to newbies is like trying to teach a cat the Pythagoras theorem.
Okay, the main plot. Wraith is the most damaged of the Seminus Porky Brothers, described in previous books as the most psychotic one of them all. Even early in this book, he is once again described as the Seminus Porky Brother who has no compunction in killing and eating his victims. So, how do you turn such a charming fellow into a romance hero? Why, reinvent the fellow from scratch, turn him into a fake bad boy, and pretend that nothing is amiss if your author pseudonym is Larissa Ione.
So, in this book, Wraith is doing his thing when he gets poisoned. He will die, ooh. Of course, since he's always wanted to die, you'd think he would be happy. Well, there will be no story if this is the case, so Ms Ione has Eidolon telling Wraith that their spook hospital will die - really, as in expiring forever, kicking the bucket and all - if he dies since the existence of the hospital is tied up to the life forces of the Porky Brothers Three. Wraith, being the self-absorbed psychopath, naturally has all the concern of his kind in his heart and he realizes that he must live, after all.
Of course, the cure is Serena's Virginal Hoochie of Redemption. We all know that a virgin's vagina is the most powerful thing in existence, after all. Serena is an archeologist who is also working with the human demon-busting crew called the Aegis. In this story, she goes to Egypt to retrieve a magical device of plot contrivance that will set in motion her upcoming Hoochie Redemption epic saga. But the thing is, if Wraith goes where no man has ever gone before in the territory of hoochiesville, Serena will die. Make your own joke about the heroine's existence being tied up to her all-powerful hymen. Wraith, our psychopath, is naturally horrified by the idea of deflowering a woman to cure himself and he can't bring himself to do it... or so he says, snort. Meanwhile, Wraith doesn't kill the inconvenient people he encounters and he behaves like a gallant and protective alpha male slobbering all over the purity hoochie of the heroine. Some psychopath, I tell you. If I weren't too busy laughing at the whole unintentional comedy, if I were actually more invested in Wraith, I may just feel cheated.
And really, this story is a hoot. It's a fabulous comedy about what happens when an author spins a flimsy pretense of a plot about every reader's favorite subject: the ravishing of a virginal woman by an emo alpha male. Wraith isn't just a happy incubus rapist - he needs to have sex a dozen times a day, as per page 43. Yes, he needs to have sex twelve times a day. And yet he also works at the hospital. I wonder how the whole logistics thing works out.
Dr Eidolon: Okay, I will now make a cut into our patient's chest... scalpel, please. Scalpel, please. Wraith? Wraith?
Bored nurse: Sorry, doctor, two hours have passed, so Wraith has gone off to get his shag fix.
Dr Eidolon: At least he now does it elsewhere. The last patient died when Wraith found the tracheotomy incision resembling a vagina too much to ignore... Where the hell is he, Nurse?
Bored nurse: In the pantry, Dr Eidolon. He's shagging the apple pie.
Dr Eidolon: Damn it, that's my lunch!
Mind you, that means any woman marrying Wraith will need to service him twelve times a day. Think about it. I suspect that two years from now, we will see Serena in the front page of the newspapers, having turned deranged from her husband's constant shagging and having forcibly cut off the man's rampant pee-pee with a knife as a result.
As for the part about Serena being in danger, it's pretty anticlimatic, because it's obvious from the start that Wraith is never going to be in any genuine danger. He has a plot armor so obvious, it may as well come with its own clown car and a blaring horn loud enough to be heard all the way to Siberia. He's supposed to be dying, but hey, look at him do the Seminus kung-fu thing without even feeling much side effect. The plot is just a filler, for everyone to catch a breath before the next scene where the hero will once again demonstrate his alpha horny mojo on the heroine.
One good thing about this story, though, from an academic point of view: Serena starts out as a complete subversion of the possessor of the magical purity hoochie of redemption trope. She's a vampire groupie who teases vampires mercilessly because she knows that they can't hurt her when she decides to withdraw after teasing them too far. She is practically gagging for Wraith to relieve her virginity with a tenacity of an obsessed American Idol fan, and it is Wraith who feels the need to hold back so that this book doesn't end after 80 pages. Still, her pattern of behavior eventually tapers out into standard Alpha Male's Girlfriend code of conduct after a while, so the fun doesn't last too long.
Passion Unleashed is another installment in the increasingly convoluted sex opera of demons and whatever. In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether I should bail on this series because this one has sex scenes and plenty of superficial subplots developing between many secondary characters, so much so that I suspect that Ms Ione is heading down that same path repeatedly used by Suzanne Brockmann. Maybe I'll give this series one more chance just to be sure.
This book at Amazon.com
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