REVIEW: Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione
Dear Ms. Ione,
I’m not exactly sure what I expected of new Demonica paranormal series, but a story sounded in a demon hospital sounded interesting so I decided to give it a shot. What I found was a read that, for the most part, I found lively and entertaining, even if I sometimes found myself asking, “Wait, did that part really make sense?”
Eidolon is the eldest of three incubus brothers. Although he currently works as a doctor in the aforementioned demon hospital, he is rapidly approaching the final stage of his life cycle, which will result in him becoming a raging sex demon whose sole purpose in life is to get women — no matter the species — pregnant. It doesn’t sound too bad at first mention but then we learn that incubi who reach this stage usually go insane and end up raping everything in sight. As this often results in their being hunted down by the raped women’s enraged family members, Eidolon isn’t looking forward to it. The only way to circumvent this is by taking a mate but Eidolon’s been looking for a long time, and he’s all but given up.
Enter Tayla Mancuso. Tayla is an Aegis Guardian, a society of hunters whose life’s work is to take out demons. One night, against all reason, she’s brought into Eidolon’s hospital and because the very charter Eidolon helped write requires it, not only does he not kill Tayla, he heals her. But in doing so, he discovers something peculiar. It turns Tayla is half-demon herself and if she doesn’t assimilate the demonic DNA soon, she will die. For her part, Tayla knows something is wrong with her body. She’s been suffering from episodes in which she loses control of her body and in fact, the latest one resulted in the gruesome death of her partner.
Even more pressing is the fact that someone is killing demons and harvesting their bodies of organs. The demons think it’s the Aegi but Tayla insists it’s not them. So Eidolon and Tayla reluctantly team up to find the real culprit.
Despite the fact that I really wanted to like Tayla, I found some aspects of her character a little silly. Red leather? Really? I realize black leather is something of a cliché in the paranormal/urban fantasy subgenres, but it’s a staple for a reason. I just can’t imagine a stealthy hunter skulking around in the shadows dressed in red leather. Paired with Tayla’s described red hair, I found myself wondering if she was cosplaying as Red Sonja. And when she broke out the line about red leather hiding blood better, I afraid that statement wiped out any street cred her character might have had as a big, bad demon hunter.
In addition, Tayla has a specific sexual intimacy issue and this proves to be a roadblock in her burgeoning, but unwanted, relationship with Eidolon. Now perhaps this is my fault because I read the clues wrong and drew the incorrect conclusion, but I’d expected her intimacy issues stemmed from her half-demon heritage. In fact, I would have preferred this because not only is it a little different from the conventions we often encounter in the genre, but it made sense in what I’d interpreted to be Tayla’s character development with regards to her assimilating both sides of her parentage.
Instead, it’s revealed that Tayla’s intimacy issues are a result of past trauma. Not only are the reasons a bit unoriginal, the resolution of those issues occurred far too quick for me to completely buy. I just don’t see ten years of trauma being healed by a five minute pep talk and healing sex.
Even though I think the plot excelled at reversals — the morning after Tayla and Eidolon first successfully have sex was something to behold — I also felt the end suffered from obvious set-up for succeeding novels. While I understand that some loose ends are needed for the other two incubus brothers’ stories, I also think some plotlines were just left dangling. Combined with a final chapter that was a little too care bear for my states, this ended up being a C+ for me.