There’s something about Vegas that makes it a great setting for urban fantasy. Perhaps it’s the feeling of dark secrets simmering beneath the glittery facade that the city puts up for tourists. Whatever it is, Stacia Kane takes that mood and runs with it in Made for Sin.
Our hero, E.L. Speare, really is made for sin. He is possessed by something he refers to as “the beast”, and the beast is only satisfied when Speare commits a sin. So he lives on the fringes, working as a PI and indulging in petty theft and one night stands to keep the beast at bay as well as to keep his own conscience clear of the things he sees as darker sins. It’s a painful balancing act and of necessity, it prevents him from letting himself get too close to anyone. Kane does a great job of showing how this state of affairs eats at him.
The uneasy truce of Speare’s life gets thrown into disarray when his latest case brings him into contact with a murder. A well-known crime boss’ right-hand man has been discovered dead in a dumpster with a missing right arm. Speare is able to tell right away that the man was killed with a demon sword, a powerful supernatural weapon that could have catastrophic consequences in the wrong hands.
Speare’s quest for the demon sword brings him into a sometimes uneasy alliance with master thief Ardeth Coyle. Like many thieves, Ardeth deals in supernatural artifacts from time to time while Speare, with his connection to a Vegas crime family, operates primarily among people who are treaty-bound not to. He needs Ardeth’s knowledge and connections, but the two aren’t necessarily going to trust one another.
Though the dialogue at times feels a tad cliched, the chemistry between Ardeth and Speare worked for me. They circle one another suspiciously, come to reluctant truces, and move from begrudging respect to sexually charged friendship in scenes that had me not wanting to put down my reader. This book has elements of romance to it, but it’s definitely more urban fantasy than traditional HEA romance and as with many an urban fantasy series, the ending of Made for Sin leaves things rather open-ended – and left this reader wanting to read the next book in the series right away.
As the story moves along, the bodies start piling up and Speare and Ardeth realize they have stumbled into something unbelievably sinister. The big reveal and final showdown in this story were too over the top for me, but I did like the paranormal alternate Las Vegas setting of this book, and I liked Speare and Ardeth. The worldbuilding is a tad vague, but based on the somewhat ambiguous ending, I’m assuming that this book is first in a new series and hopefully Kane will expand upon her world in future books.
In a book with a demon-possessed hero and plenty of supernatural doings, it should be obvious that this story involves something of a walk on the dark side. If that appeals to you and you enjoy urban fantasy, this novel should be right up your alley.