I’ve said many times that story matters. To take characters from where they are to what they become is important and it makes the difference between a story and something more. Characters need to develop, to explore who they are, their feeling and more. Having that makes all else that comes along for the ride worthwhile.
The question isn’t a simple one. What does it mean to love? What touches your soul? What curls your toes and makes you find bliss in that moment? It’s not always sex, it’s not always passion. Sometimes it’s as simple as some ice cream shared with someone that actually cares about you as… you.
- Title: Damned If He Does
- Author: Marcella Burnard
- Length: 333 Pages
- ASIN: B01HR5R2DI
- Publishing Date: July 19, 2016
- This work at Amazon.com
The work tells the story of:
Rejected by heaven, twisted by hell, what’s a damned dead man to do when he stumbles upon a life and love worth fighting for?
Though damned for his earthly sins, Darsorin Incarri likes being an incubus. Prowling women’s dreams to siphon off their sexual energy for Satan’s consumption has its perks: an array of infernal power and a modicum of freedom. Sure, Ole Scratch holds Dar’s soul in thrall, and Dar has to spend a few hours recharging in Hell every day, but it could be much worse. All he has to do is hold up his end of his damnation contract – five women seduced, satisfied and siphoned per night for eternity. So when he encounters gorgeous, bright, and funny Fiona Renee, it’s business as usual. Deploy the infernal charm and rack up another score. Except it doesn’t work. She’s immune. He has to find out what’s gone wrong or face Lucifer’s wrath.
Fiona Renee has the life she’d always wanted: a career, a home, a cat with a bad attitude, and peace. Fiona’s dated. Had boyfriends. And hated every minute of it. She’s reconciled to being lonely. So when a man shows up in her bedroom in the middle of the night demanding to know why her dreams turn to nightmares every time he tries to seduce her from within them, Fiona winds up negotiating a contract with a demon that allows him access to her life. She never anticipated that it would also give him access to her heart. If she’s going to fall in love at all, something she never thought would happen, shouldn’t it be with someone who’s alive? If Fiona wants to hang on to Darsorin, she has to find his true name—the one he’d been given at his birth over a thousand years ago. But Satan, himself, stands in her way. Even if Fiona can dodge Lucifer, she and Darsorin have to face the question neither of them can answer: What happens to a dead man if you manage to wrest his soul from the Devil?
Dar is the greatest incubus there is. But not even the greatest can figure out Fiona. She’s not at all what he expects, her needs are things he cannot quite understand. Ice cream means more than sex to her and Dar needs to know why. A deal made, against the Devil’s wishes, which takes Dar and Fiona on the path to discovering something. What each other really wants, and what that means to them both.
The single thing about this work that caught my attention was the interaction between Dar in his trying to understand Fiona, and she trying to come to terms with him. While much of that revolves around a sexual theme, it’s far more than that. The concepts delved into are something that simply never has been touched in a work about succubi and incubi before that I am aware of. Fiona is someone that Dar has never encountered before. Her idea of pleasure doesn’t match up with that he understands it to be and that opens the door to Dar’s own self examination.
It is that exploration of himself, of learning there is more to life than sex which changes Dar. But beyond that, the path he takes is one that Fiona has a great hand in and it changes her as well. Not to the point where her character betrays herself, but rather she evolves. This is the central point of the story. That both Dar and Fiona aren’t the same once they begin on the path to understanding.
This is not an easy path, there are many obstacles, some within and some without, that make the journey for Dar a battle and for Fiona variously painful in how others “try” to help. There are moments of tears, others of joy and wonder. It’s a rollercoaster ride for the characters and in being so, there’s so much delicious story to tell.
What’s most interesting about the work is also the sexual tension that runs throughout. There is innuendo, both intended and careless. There are expressions of love, romance and desire, but the characters do not fall into a wild hot flash with no meaning. It’s exceptionally well done, and I felt that the relationship between Dar and Fiona felt very real and plausible as a result.
The building of tension leads towards a moment which, for me, was exactly right in how it unfolded. A little bit of truth, a little bit of redemption. The story does not close in a rush, time is taken to explain why things happened, what has happened, and what it all means to Fiona and Dar. It’s a really satisfying conclusion which didn’t leave anything lacking.
Five out of five pitchforks.
I simply adored this work for the characters, the story, and the resolution. A unique work that tells a classic story, but in a way that asks important questions. Richly written, amazing characters and just the most wonderfully heartwarming of tales.