My Dangerous Pleasure
I confess, before I started reading the latest in Carolyn Jewel’s My Immortals series, I promised myself that I was going to abandon the series if My Dangerous Pleasure followed the formula of the previous three books. To my surprise and delight, the author went a completely different route with the plot, giving Iskander’s story a fresh spin and renewing my interest in the world of Demons and Magekind.
In a previous book we learned that Iskander’s blood twin, essentially the other half of his soul, voluntarily gave herself to a brutal and unprincipled mage, leaving Iskander barely sane. He’s had a hard road to recovery, is still partially crazy and very dangerous, but has built a semi-normal life (for a demon), living in his own home and renting his garage apartment to a vanilla human. Or is she truly vanilla?
Iskander’s tenant, Paisley, seems at first to be a run-of-the-mill baker and small business owner. She’s exhausted from working crazy hours and worrying about paying the bills, and she secretly lusts over her gorgeous, blue-tattooed landlord. But when she runs afoul of the previously mentioned mage, Rasmus Kessler, latent powers of which she and Iskander were unaware come to her rescue. Perhaps due to the urging of Iskander’s ex-blood twin, perhaps because he recognizes that Paisley is latent magekind, or perhaps because he’s just not used to hearing no, Rasmus becomes obsessed with Paisley after one coffee date and starts stalking her. He even goes so far as to attempt to use magic to enslave Paisley, and when that doesn’t work he tries to get a demon to indwell, what humans call demon possession. But Paisley’s secret powers include those which make her resistant to outside magic, so all Rasmus accomplishes is making Paisley so sick that Iskander has to rescue her. Rasmus’ attacks also have the side effect of waking Paisley’s latent powers.
When Rasmus uses magic to destroy everything Paisley owns, Iskander invites her to move into his home. As their relationship progresses, Paisley’s warmth and loving care of Iskander smooth some of his rough edges. Paisley’s magical power gets stronger, and Iskander introduces her to demonkind and teaches her how to control her magic. It quickly becomes apparent that Paisley has an amazing gift vitally important to all demonkind and that she must be protected from Rasmus at all costs.
This is where My Dangerous Pleasure deviates from the rest of the series. In the first three books the women (magekind and enhanced human) all cede their powers to their demon lovers in some form or fashion. Paisley is the first heroine that gets to keep all her powers all her own. She and Iskander have a mental and emotional bond, but he never takes over, never controls her magic for her. While the previous heroines weren’t wimps in any way, Paisley seems to be the strongest heroine simply for this reason.
I really enjoyed this book. I’ve been very curious about what kind of heroine would be matched with Iskander. He’s always been my favorite of the demons and I never would have guessed that he’d end up with a southern sweetheart of a baker. I assumed he’d end up with a woman as crazy as he is, but Paisley’s politesse is a perfect foil for Iskander’s badass-ness. Watching Iskander and the other demons melt over Paisley made for some excellent reading. Another plus was finding out what happened to Iskander’s ex-blood twin, Fen. We learned a lot about Fen in the first book, but then she was never really featured again until now. Her part in this story was unexpected and also made for good reading.
There were a couple of things I didn’t enjoy, however. First was the muddying of the relationships between secondary characters. There’s a witch that was supposed to end up with one of Iskander’s compatriots, but for some reason that relationship didn’t pan out and the other demon ended up with someone else, a secondary character from a different book. That witch clings to Iskander and acts hostile to Paisley, causing problems in their relationship. The cause of all the drama isn’t really explained, so the reader is left hanging, and the scene feels very high-school because of it.
The second issue is the total cop-out of a cover. It didn’t effect enjoyment of the story, but wow, what a let down. Iskander has blue stripes that start in his hair, tinting it blue in places, and running down over his face and the length of his entire body. One stripe even runs through the sclera of his eye. Yet the publishers chose a cover picture of a normal, albeit handsome, man, three quarters profile without a hint of Iskander’s tats. What a shame.
Aside from the issues mentioned, I recommend My Dangerous Pleasure for the danger and excitement and especially for the surprisingly sweet love story. Newcomers should definitely read the previous three books first or be completely lost. You won’t regret it.