Sunday, February 19, 2012

Adult book review: The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 686 KB
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Original edition (December 27, 2011)
Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.

Summary: I gasped . . . or tried to. My mouth opened, but I couldn’t draw breath. . . . His lips, pearly wet, parted and he blew into my mouth. My lungs expanded beneath his weight. When I exhaled he sucked in my breath and his weight turned from cold marble into warm living flesh.

Since accepting a teaching position at remote Fairwick College in upstate New York, Callie McFay has experienced the same disturbingly erotic dream every night: A mist enters her bedroom, then takes the shape of a virile, seductive stranger who proceeds to ravish her in the most toe-curling, wholly satisfying ways possible. Perhaps these dreams are the result of writing her bestselling book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. After all, Callie’s lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature—which is why she finds herself at Fairwick’s renowned folklore department, living in a once-stately Victorian house that, at first sight, seemed to call her name.

But Callie soon realizes that her dreams are alarmingly real. She has a demon lover—an incubus—and he will seduce her, pleasure her, and eventually suck the very life from her. Then Callie makes another startling discovery: He’s not the only mythical creature in Fairwick. As the tenured witches of the college and the resident fairies in the surrounding woods prepare to cast out the incubus, Callie must accomplish something infinitely more difficult—banishing this demon lover from her heart.

My review: I was surprised when I discovered that Juliet Dark was Carol Goodman. I have a bunch of her novels in my TBR pile (quite ashamedly) and grabbed this one. Wow, was I glad I did. As like any book reader can attest, I need diversity in what I read. After completing a bunch of YA and adult romances, I needed to return to my roots--both in setting (preferably something set in my home state of New York) and into something paranormal with a slower pace and rich story line.

The Demon Lover fulfilled both of these needs. Over a course of a week's worth of night reading (after my youngest was tucked in and which helped set the right type of mood), out came my Kindle Fire and I was able to jump right back into this absorbing read. I loved the setting of Fairwick, an upstate NY town where Dr. Callieach "Callie" McFay accepts a teaching position at a small college. I loved even more the house she decides to buy, Honeysuckle House, an stately Victorian owned by 1930's gothic romance writer Dahlia Lamotte. Having a PhD in folklore and a successful author in her own right, Callie immediately feels an affinity towards the house and its previous owner. The mystery ensues when Callie begins to see eerie similarities between her own dream lover and the one she discovers in Dahlia's journals. Callie's 'dream lover' was a childhood imaginary friend who would show up after her parent's accidental death to console her and has changed over time into something. . . .quite more.

More? Yes, our heroine realizes her feelings for this 'being' are quite real and she loves him. That's part of a complex mystery Callie must unearth in a story full of interesting characters, folklore, mythology and more. From the gorgeous front cover one might believe this is a YA romance but the 'lover' in the title and the summary should be enough to inform you this is definitely an adult read, especially with the steamy love scenes between Callie and her succubi. Since this is the first in a series, there were unanswered questions and a satisfying/unsatisfying ending (meaning there is more to come).

I really liked Dark's writing style and how she incorporated various aspects from folklore and myth. Fairwick is an intriguing town as is its college and inhabitants. As the protagonist, Callie does come across as slightly cold and uppity in the beginning but these attributes didn't bother me. I've met many a New Yorker and this character came across as quite believable. As she learns everything and everyone may not be as they seem, especially within herself being a 'gatekeeper', she lowers her defenses and lets the townspeople beguile her. 

There was quite a large cast of characters and yet I had no problem remembering who was who--which is a testament to Dark's fluid writing skills. There was a nice blend of dialogue and exposition which always kept me well informed and swiping across ereader pages. The setting, so important in these types of books, was creepy and alluring. The romantic parts were certainly enthralling with some truly unforgettable scenes between Callie, her misty demon lover, and living boyfriend, Professor Liam Doyle. I can't wait to see what happens in the cozy town of Fairwick and what thrills Callie may endure next in the second book.

Rating: I really liked this book.

Cover comment: Gorgeous, mysterious and a tad bit misleading with the slew of similar paranormal YA covers on the market. 

Book source: Received an ARC from Netgalley.

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