The Demon's Daughter
The Demon’s Daughter suffered from a serious identity crisis. It could never figure out whether it wanted to be Victorian, alternate reality, romance, or erotica. In the end it was just plain bad. I had to read this in short increments to keep my sanity. Perhaps if the alternate reality setting been better done, and the characters had refrained from lust-thought for longer than thirty seconds, I would have enjoyed it more.
It’s hard to describe the setting of this book because it takes place in a pseudo-Victorian London setting in a city called Avvar. The queen is even named Victoria, and Victorian attitudes are mixed with beliefs from a race called the Yama, or as they are not-so-affectionately called, demons. There is no explanation given about Avvar and the Yama, just that the humans live in a country called the Aedlyne Empire, and found the Yama living in the Northland. The Yama look somewhat human, but can communicate telepathically and are able to feed off of human life force. (This normally doesn’t kill the person) The humans and Yama have formed a truce, and the lower caste Yama, the rohn, have been banished to Avvar so the daimyo, the aristocrats, don’t have to deal with them. They treat Avvar rather like a penal colony and send their societal outcasts there. Some rohn drink human etheric-force, and the daimyo do not. Taking human life force creates an addiction for the rohn, and it also enables them to feel human emotion, something normal Yama do not have.
Queen Victoria doesn’t mind receiving the outcasts in Avvar, since Yama technology has been given in trade. It is far superior to human technology, and makes the little things in life much easier in terms of cooking, street lighting, plumbing, etc. However, because some of the rohn cause problems, a special branch of the police was necessary. These policemen have special Yamish implants giving them the greater strength and speed they need to deal with the extremely strong rohn criminals. Inspector Adrian Philips accepted the implants and lost his marriage as a result. His wife couldn’t accept her husband’s demon technology and they divorced. Prejudice is alive and well in Victorian London, oops, I mean Avvar.
Adrian also lost many of his friends in the force due to his implants. He is a solitary man, and though he has a large extended family, he rarely visits them. His specialty to look for missing children in the Avvar slums and reunite them with their families. On such a mission he is stabbed and badly hurt, but manages to climb a fire escape to the top of the building where he is rescued by Roxanne McAllister.
Roxanne is an outcast as well. She is the daughter of an actress/singer known for her wonderful voice and many affairs. Roxanne lives on the edge of the Avvar slums and has taken in two boys (Max and Charles) desperately in need of a home. They have created their own family, and Roxanne does not want anything to threaten them. She is an excellent artist in her own right, although when she was desperate for money she sold erotic, nearly-nude paintings of herself (and others), which also labels her as lower class. Roxanne has a checkered past, and since her mother died and left her alone at fourteen, she was a sailor on an all female ship, and worked and scraped to buy her own shop to sell her paintings and art supplies.
Adrian is seriously injured, but is immediately attracted to Roxanne, enough that he can grope her in his delirium. As he remains in her home to heal from his injuries, he realizes he cannot reveal his identity as an inspector. Roxanne discovers te identity of her father during Adrian’s recuperation. Since her father could compromise Adrian’s job, he never tells her his real last name. As the book progresses, his inability to commit to her because of her father’s identity is just annoying. He can’t keep his hands off her for five minutes, then feels guilty about not following through on a committed relationship, and then comes back for more.
Roxanne is no dummy; she realizes Adrian is unwilling to commit her. After he leaves her home, she stumbles upon his identity and is hurt and angry. However, when Max is kidnapped she is forced to ask Adrian for help. She will not compromise Max and Charles’s safety in her home, and Adrian’s connections that could help her.
From the moment she brings Adrian into her home to nurse his injuries, the two feel an overwhelming attraction to each other. For the reader this means that for the rest of the book, Adrian thinks lustful thoughts about Roxanne continously. These two cannot control themselves even in the presence of his parents, or her father, for pity’s sake. For example, I’m not talking about kissing or light touching here, I’m talking about serious groping at the table in a restaurant during dinner with his parents. Yuck and double yuck.
I also had serious problems with the paranormal plot aspects. Names of other countries and races on this mysterious planet are thrown in without any explanation. They weren’t integral or even related to the story line, so why bother? The mix of attitudes (Yama vs. Victorian) did not work for me either. It was as if the characters themselves were confused about what they were supposed to be doing within the framework of their own story!
Ms. Holly’s books recent books have gone downhill for me. At this point I don’t see myself reading her again. Even stalwart fans of alternate reality romance should avoid this one and save your money for something else instead.