Made for Sin
Earlier this year, I discovered the magic that is Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series. I immediately fell in love with her multi-layered characters and her superbly unique setting. When I saw her latest offering, Made for Sin available for review, I was eager to give it a try. I wondered how it, a standalone romance, would compare to her series, where the characters and their relationships have a number of books in which to change and grow. I’m sorry to say not all the comparisons were favorable.
E.L. Speare is a private investigator living in Las Vegas. Each day, he is forced to commit a certain number of sins in order to survive. At first, the reasons for this are unclear, but we soon learn he shares his mind and body with a demon who requires the sins to ensure its existence. Speare doesn’t seem to understand the reasons behind his possession by the demon, but he knows he can’t escape.
One of Speare’s regular clients is a Vegas crime boss who employs him to do a great deal of his dirty work. Now, he wants the detective to get to the bottom of a series of grizzly murders. A number of bodies have been found around town, some of them dismembered, while others bear the mark of a strange and legendary weapon. Speare is entrusted with the task of not only finding the murderer, but putting the powerful demon sword to rest for good.
To this end, Speare makes contact with Ardeth Coyle, a sexy and very accomplished young thief. He’s convinced she can help him get to the bottom of these crimes. Unfortunately, he soon finds himself drawn to more than her breaking and entering skills, but getting involved is out of the question. He has too much on his plate already. Besides, he couldn’t bear to be forever bound to a woman so stubborn and opinionated. However, he finds keeping things between them strictly business harder than he anticipated.
At first, I was a little worried about the main character being male. Ms. Kane’s previous books have been told from the point of view of the heroine, a writing style I’m very comfortable with. I wasn’t sure she’d be able to convincingly convey a male character’s thoughts and feelings, but I’m pleased to say my fears were completely unfounded, because Speare is just as complex as any of her heroines and his narrative is completely authentic. Although he isn’t always likable, I enjoyed getting to know him and coming to a greater understanding of the things that drive him.
Alas, Ardeth’s character is not nearly as well-crafted and her personality is two-dimensional at best. I was unable to understand what made her so irresistible to Speare and I found her constant need to be right more than a little off-putting, especially considering the fact that I was given no real reason to trust her. I found myself wondering why Speare didn’t just kick her to the curb in favor of a partner who was more interested in being his equal rather than his better. Sure, Ardeth knows quite a bit about magical artifacts, but that wasn’t enough to make me a fan. I wanted her to grow as the story progressed, but that didn’t happen.
The first half of the book drags quite a bit. There’s a lot of world-building here, and, as usual, Ms. Kane has created a fabulous fictional environment. However, I wanted more action. I wanted to see more sparks between the leads. It also would have been nice if the mystery could have moved along a bit faster too. My wishes were granted in the second half of the novel, but by then, I wasn’t quite as invested in the story as I would have liked.
Although the story itself is fun and fairly engaging, there isn’t much about it to set it apart from the droves of paranormal romances out there. Ms. Kane does throw in a few references to punk culture which are sure to please her fans, but if you’re expecting something with the depth of Downside Ghosts, don’t look here to find it. Readers new to Ms. Kane’s work might fare slightly better, as they won’t have anything to with which to compare it, and might therefore be better equipped to enjoy this story on its own merit.
Made for Sin does not end on a cliffhanger, but I do see lots of room for Ms. Kane to continue telling Speare’s story. If she does choose to do so, I hope Ardeth undergoes a major personality overhaul, or, better yet, that we get a new leading lady altogether, someone with more spunk, more vulnerability, and a whole lot more realism. Personally though, I’d rather Ms. Kane continue with her well-established series and let this novel stand on its own.