Review: FORBIDDEN PASSION by Rita Herron
SHE SEES HIM IN HER DREAMS...
Fueled by her family's murder years ago, Dr. Marlena Bender has devoted her life to understanding violent criminals. But when a serial killer in this small Southern town starts taking the lives of women in diabolical ways--leaving trophies of his kills on Marlena's doorstep--it all hits too close to home. Terrified, Marlena turns to the only man she can trust...the man who saved her life.
BUT HIS SECRET IS HER WORST NIGHTMARE.
Sheriff Dante Valtrez would move heaven and earth to keep Marlena safe, but he's not the savior she thinks he is. A dark legacy runs through his blood and a dangerous secret lies within him. Now a fierce, hot, ruthless desire draws Dante and Marlena together--as a demonic force from his past threatens to rip them apart, destroying everything they hold dear.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Single Title/Series: FORBIDDEN PASSION is book three in the Demonborn Series but can be read as a stand alone novel.
Cover Thoughts: I really do like the cover and it did what it was supposed to do which was to catch my attention for this author. The giant moon and the gnarled tree lends a sinister quality to the novel. In addition, the hint of fire with billowing smoke and the fiery essence at the bottom gave readers an idea of the hero's gift and the danger they'd find inside. Truly a wonderful cover.
Why I Read It: I was offered an Advanced Review Copy from Donna at Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings.
A nonstop action ride, FORBIDDEN PASSION starts things off with a bloody bang. Marlena Bender is back in her hometown of Mysteria, Tennessee determined to solve the gruesome murders of her mother and older sister with the hopes that the past may finally cease to haunt her. When she's not pursuing the answers she seeks, Marlena works as a research scientist at BloodCore as well as a therapist for the adjoining mental hospital. Since the horrific deaths of her family, Marlena's life work has become consumed with unlocking and potentially inhibiting violence in humans. But no sooner has she moved back into her family home when Marlena is gifted with a bloody finger commencing a series of murders that has her running into the arms of the sheriff and her once savior, Dante Zertlav.
Dante, a firestarter demon, has also recently returned to Mysteria but for atonement not answers with the exclusive agenda being to protect the town's inhabitants from his demon brethren that surround it. However, the last person Dante ever hoped to see in Mysteria again was Marlena Bender, the once little girl he was supposed to kill for his demon initiation but wound up saving instead. Dante knows that Marlena wants answers but he never thought their first conversation would be about a bloody trophy some wacko left on her front porch. When that wacko proves to have a demon connection, Dante knows that the demons he betrayed by joining the human world are out to kill him; right now they're only taunting him.
With the serial killer having taken a personal interest in Marlena by showing off his work with bloody gifts, her life is now at serious risk. But no matter how great the peril may be, Marlena's tired of having to endlessly live in fear. After being haunted since childhood by the demonic images of the creatures that murdered her family, Marlena's not about to let this new threat keep her from her home. However, she’s also not about to allow Dante the opportunity to protect her because Marlena believes that the greatest threat of all is the threat of losing her heart to the one man that she knows can’t be trusted. Instead, Marlena returns alone time and again to a house where a gift or a killer may be waiting instead of accepting the protection of a man that supposedly poses the greater danger.
Dante isn't immune from the risk of losing his own either but he's also determined to keep Marlena at a severe distance. For one, the demons already know that she's his ultimate weakness and two, the moment she discovers that he has knowledge of why her family died and that she was supposed to join them in death by his own demon hand, she'll run. Without his ability to watch over her, Dante knows that Marlena is easy pickings and more importantly, he knows that he couldn't ever live with himself if anything should happen to her because of her association with him. Until Dante can defeat the demons that threaten the safety of Mysteria, he resolves to keep Marlena out of his heart but that doesn't stop him from partaking in the delights of her body when offered and if she's hurt by his morning-after cold shoulder, she'll come to understand that it's safer for her in the long run.
With the serial killer's bloody antics escalating along with the furious destruction that the demons are waging upon the town with Nature's elements, no one is safe. Dante hunts endlessly amongst the underground demon population for clues of who is murdering his townspeople as well as the nefarious activities of Zion, the new leader of the Underworld and the demon responsible for waging war on Earth. Both demons he must stop while keeping the stubborn Marlena alive. With countless dead ends and sleepless nights, both Dante and Marlena know that the killer is only getting closer to his target and when he does make his final move, Marlena has a very real chance of ending up dead.
I honestly wanted FORBIDDEN PASSION to be a good read and I held out hope all the way until the very end but to no avail. Both Dante and Marlena were extremely difficult characters to connect with and I thought them both to be over the top stubborn to the point of stupidity.
Dante, with his consistently cold and at time callous treatment of Marlena, along with his ability to keep his heart hidden, became distant not only to his heroine but to the reader as well. I also thought that his later about-face with his declaration of love was completely predictable if not borderline heathenish. I tried my best to sympathize with what he was dealing with, which was the extreme idiocy of his heroine, but by the end he still hadn't worked his way into my reader heart.
Sadly, Marlena wasn't much better and I found her increasingly ridiculous Too Stupid To Live moments very frustrating. In fact, after a while my vision of a Happily Ever After became Marlena’s demise because in all honesty, I thought she deserved to die. Four plus times the reader finds the heroine opting to face death at the hands of a serial killer rather than allow her hero’s protection because apparently her heart was more important than her life. Uh, no thanks. You're just asking for it by that point and death would have been the only thing to wake Marlena from her insane stupidity. I've never wished death on a heroine before but I guess there's always a first...
Finally, I thought that the world building was uninspiring and also lacked originality. Truly, it felt to me that the whole demon world took a backseat to the serial killer and his motives. Perhaps this was the author’s purpose but I would have liked to have learned more about the underground happenings of the demons.
For paranormal readers who enjoy their reads to be action packed, have little to no world building and a Too Stupid Live heroine along with a cold-hearted hero, then this is the novel for you. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did.
The Romance Dish: 4 Stars