28 October 2012

The Devil to Pay


Silhouette Nocturne #55
Bewitching The Dark, Book 5

Synopsis: After the devil Himself claims Ivan Drake's soul on his twenty-first birthday, the vampire phoenix has no choice but to enforce his wicked role. But when the devil sends him to claim the Book of all Spells, the last thing Ivan expects is to square off with its gorgeous protector, the witch Dez Merevech – or to be attracted to her.

To retrieve the book might end the escalating war between the witches and the vampires, but to take it from Dez will ensure her death. With the fate of the paranormal world hanging in the balance, Ivan must choose wisely – and quickly...

Stats for my copy: paperback, published by Silhouette Books, 2009; purchased at Half Price Books.

I'd seen Michele Hauf's name before, but was unfamiliar with her work when I bought this book. Normally I don't read series books out of order, but with category romances the entries are often not linked to each other enough to matter if you read them in order or not. And indeed, in the “Dear Reader” letter from the author at the front of this book, Ms. Hauf states each story in this series stands alone. So I dove right in.

The hero of this book, however, Ivan Drake, is related to the couple in the second book of the series, KISS ME DEADLY. And two pages into the prologue, which gave a bit of background on his parents, I realized that I had read that entry, and at the time had not been overly impressed.

But I forged ahead anyway, and I'm glad I did. And let me say now, that as I read, more and more of that previous book came back to me, and I began to remember it a little more fondly. And I honestly think part of my problem at the time was that I read it on my iPhone. I don’t read many ebooks, and when I would put one on my phone, I usually only read it when out somewhere without a regular book with me, which meant I might go days between chapters, or even between paragraphs. After having an iPhone for about six months, I stopped even bothering with ebooks. I just don't like reading that way.

So. Ivan is a 28 year old half vampire, half witch, whose parents bargained away his soul before he was even born. The devil, always referred to as Himself, left Ivan alone until he turned 21, at which time he claimed his soul, and Ivan became his fixer. His days were his own, but his nights belonged to Himself, when he was given assignments and had to track down various creatures who had wronged Himself or reneged on a deal or whatever, and exacting whatever punishment Himself has directed. His newest assignment: to locate the Grande Grimoire, a magical book that contains every spell ever written, and take it from the witch who is its guardian.

Said guardian is Dez, a very powerful witch who is much older than Ivan. When she discovers he is only 28 years old, not 28 decades, or centuries, she is slightly appalled, calling him a baby boy. More than once throughout the book she reminds herself that in the world of the witches and vampires, age doesn’t really matter.

Of course Ivan and Dez are attracted to each other, but despite his growing feelings for Dez, Ivan can't not attempt to take the book from her. At night he is under the control of Himself, and he has no choice but to carry out his assignment. Or to attempt to anyway.

I like this world that Ms. Hauf has built. There is a war going on between the witches and the vampires, but (like many wars) it is unnecessary, and Ivan's parents and other members of the Gray Council, both witch and vampire, are searching for a way to end it. I like the characters. The author takes us inside their heads, giving us a good look at what has made them who they are today, and what is keeping them from being who they would like to be. With Himself being so powerful, it was hard to imagine how Ivan and Dez would be able to thwart him, and each victory they enjoyed over him, however fleeting, was very satisfying.

I read this book in a single day. Thankfully it was on the weekend and I didn't have to work! I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of the series, and someday I may even go back and reread the book about Ivan's parents.

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