First in a sexy new series featuring four succubus sisters fighting demons and desires.Publisher: Berkley
Jezebeth is living out the centuries as any succubus must-seducing men to survive and corrupting souls to make her quota with her queen, Lilith. But, when she's attacked by a bounty hunter demon, it's a handsome human who saves her.
Noah Halston is a horror writer who owes his life to Lilith. Now he must pay up by eluding the fearsome beasts of hell while escorting a very attractive and tempting succubus safely to Lilith's lair-or else he will forfeit his soul to an eternity of torture.
Trouble is, if he spends too much time with the all too tempting Jezebeth, he may just lose his heart-or, even worse, his life.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Single Title/Series: SEDUCING THE SUCCUBUS is book one in the Sisters of Darkness Series.
Cover Thoughts: I love the overall tone and vibrancy of the cover and the models resemble the hero and heroine to perfection. Gotta to love it when an art department pays attention and delivers on the details.
Why I Read It: I received a review copy from the author.
Seven hundred years ago, Jezebeth and her three sisters helped Lilith, the Queen of the Succubi, imprison the demon Semiazas. Now the demon has escaped with more than just a simple vengeance plan on his mind for he has something much more dire to set into motion: Armageddon.
Jezebeth and her sisters where some of the first created succubi to follow Lilith. After being thrown out of the Garden of Eden along with Adam and Eve, Lilith, condemned to death, was saved by God's Archangel Enforcer, Uriel. Wanting Lilith to have a family, Uriel gave her the succubi and incubi as well as his eternal vow to provide her with the nourishing sustenance of energy that she requires to live. Theirs is a complex relationship of temptation and forbidden love, one that will make its way into the Armageddon Prophecies along with the four succubi sisters. With news of Semiazas's escape, Lilith sends out four companions to the four scattered succubi sisters. Each is tasked with helping the sisters find their way safely to Lilith's realm and each are armed with a piece of her jewelry that will serve as a safety signal to the succubi sisters as well allow each companion to offer an endless well of nourishing energy.
Confused at first that Lilith would send a human to escort her to safety, Jezebeth soon finds respect for his - Noah's - tenacity and the skilled weaponry he's assembled for their journey. But his cruel remarks and stereotypical assumptions towards her kind make it more of a grudging respect. Having been burdened for thousands of years with the disgust of others towards her race, Jezebeth usually lets the hateful remarks slide but for some reason Noah's disgust is more painful than most. It's Jezebeth's pride that keeps her from succumbing to pitiful desperation for energy while despite the fact that Noah is sitting right next to her, he's the last person she'd ever tempt for sustenance. But once again the human confuses her with his surprising possessive streak and territorial inclinations where she's concerned. One minute the man is looking at her like she's whore-scum and the next he's holding her with barely restrained passion as he forces her to take energy from him rather than someone else. The human is absolutely confounding but Jezebeth finds herself melting each and every time Noah pulls her into his embrace.
Noah, confused as hell where his emotions are concerned, can't help but verbally cut Jezebeth right and left. One moment his pride is chaffing at the sobering thought that Jezebeth's sexual experience far exceeds his own and the next he's falling head-over-heels for the succubi's girl-next-door appearance and straight forward reactions. She tells it like it is in a direct, no-nonsense manner that leaves him with a refreshing sense of exactly where he stands with her even if that stance happens to be somewhere in the whereabouts of outright irritation. There's also Noah's pesky compulsion to provide Jezebeth with the energy her body hungers for. He simply can't stop himself from stealing her kisses as he witnesses the debilitating effects of Jez's low energy. And while he'd like to think its the prodding of his inner good Samaritan, its really his primal need for Jezebeth that has him requiring that she turn to him for her needs. But since he's giving up on keeping up with his tumultuous emotions, one thing Noah can focus on is getting Jezebeth to safety for the more time he spends in her presence the more Noah is convinced that Jezebeth is deserving of his efforts.
No journey is complete, however, without the requisite road blocks and Jezebeth and Noah encounter a plenty. Running with a price put on her head by Semiazas, both Jezebeth and Noah are at great risk not only from the prize seeking bounty hunters that include demons and djinn, but from the threat of the devil himself: Lucifer. Every major player is in the game where the stakes include the continued existence of the human realm. If the idea of Armageddon becomes implanted, the end of days will be upon them all and the succubi have the most to lose for without the human realm, their existence ceases to exist as well. If Jezebeth and Noah don't play by the hidden rules that govern the game, they could be the sole beings responsible for ending the world.
Enmeshed in a strict political environment that makes the court life of Henry VIII look like child's play, Jez does her best to stay along the fringe of her society of backstabbing succubi and incubi brethren. Opposed to the conniving selfishness of her kind but also accepting of that which she cannot change, Jezebeth is instead kind and caring and if help is within her power to give, she offers it unquestioningly. Armed with a sharp wit, bold straightforwardness and unfailing instincts, Jez does what's needed to survive even if she's never felt the give from a man, only the take. Gifted with the ability to shift her form to every man's desire, Jezebeth doesn't realize the extent of her longing for someone to want her, desire her for her true self until Noah. And while his initial condescension grates sharply upon her heart, his inevitable trust, unconditional acceptance, and brave determination to keep her safe at all costs earns him her love despite that it's a love forbidden and punishable by death.
Noah, who's day job does not include escorting befuddling succubi to safety, is a horror writer. During his research, he accidentally summoned Lilith and became drawn into a world that provides the answers to God, Lucifer and everything in between. It's a writer's dream but there's little time between killing off demons and dodging djinn to stop and scribble down his rampant ideas.
Almost stupidly fearless at times, Noah shows that he doesn't bow down to just anybody including the company of Archangels and succubi queens. Armed with a resourceful intelligence and unwavering bravery, he becomes the human that surprises them all most especially Jezebeth. While it takes a while for his stereotypical assumptions to take a back seat to his heart, when Noah commits it's not half way. Resolved to help Jezebeth, Noah will endure torture and the sure threat of death to save the good-hearted woman that has stolen his own heart, breath and soul.
My Final Thoughts:
SEDUCING THE SUCCUBUS supports a great twist on an old as time story with the help of hot non stop action but unfortunately the romance falls short of this reader's expectations. Noah and Jezebeth are likable characters but they lacked the necessary layers that would have offered more tangible depth and interest to their flat personalities. This result is sadly disappointing given that there's so much room for development. For instance, Noah starts the book off with a healthy dislike and numerous preconceived assumptions where Jezebeth is concerned. More exploration into the root of his cutting dislike of her would have been interesting. Then there's Jezebeth who's supposedly survived since the time of Adam and Eve yet she lacks and emotional and historical weight that would undoubtedly come with a being of her timeless experience. While it's surely difficult to "age" a character to that degree, Jezebeth is entirely too modern and if we weren't told of the extent of her existence, one would never believe that she's older than her mid-twenties.
In addition to the lack of depth of the main characters, the romance is flat. It felt forced with no time for discovery before Noah is already willing to die to save Jezebeth. That's great and heroic and all to want to die for your heroine, but I want to know more about the why and I think that can be attributed to the lack of depth in these characters.
Conversely, Ryan's secondary characters - the Archangels - is where this reader's heart lies. Love, love, love them! One felt the power of their age and knowledge as it poured from the pages with the heavy weight of time. The vast and timeless complexities surrounding Uriel and Lilith's forbidden love and desire is all consuming in its layered depth and erotic sensuality. Perhaps the Archangels, as such powerful beings, overwhelmed Jezebeth and Noah no matter that they're essential to the propulsion of the overreaching plot arcs. And perhaps it's because the reader is introduced to the vibrant and erotic Archangels very early on in the novel they thereby secure the hearts of the readers before they've had a chance to bond with the main characters. In the end, the chips lie where they fall and for me that's with Uriel and Lilith.
Finally the world building. While steady and incredibly interesting, we've yet to truly glimpse what's beneath the tip of the iceberg. Given its surface complexities, I would have enjoyed more information but then again there's plenty of room for exploration within the following series installments so one can't gripe too harshly. But to get to the point, I liked the world as well as the interesting twist on the timelessness of Adam and Eve. Ryan utilizes these age old stories, ones everyone knows, and brings them to life by incorporating into their original tellings subtle but significant twists. Even more awesome, Ryan brings this world to life with simplicity despite the numerous players and rules to the game that she's launched betwixt her characters. Hmm...one could argue given my above thoughts on the romance, that the world building overpowered it but that's not my gut reaction. I simply did not connect with the romance for it lacked depth but there was plenty of room to add those layers. In essence, Jezebeth and Noah just may have been two people that while attracted to one another, lacked that combustion that romance readers crave in their novels.
Honestly, if the romance had been all that I would ultimately want it to be, this novel could have been unstoppable as a stellar read especially once combined with the interesting and intricate plot arcs. But there's promise here people and I have no doubt that this is an author to watch. Maybe next time, I'll fall in love with main characters.
SEDUCING THE SUCCUBUS is a read that I recommend to all paranormal romance lovers especially those who are so into and lovin' the angel scene right now. In that respect, it should not be missed While perhaps not a favorite, this novel will get you through the dry periods and I'm confident that this will ultimately become a series for readers and their prized auto-buy lists. Enjoy!
The Sisters of Darkness Series Book Two
Releases April 5, 2011
Amalya has spent the centuries using her succubus skills to become one of the most sought-after escorts at a high class brothel. Seducing and corrupting men to make her quota with her queen, Lilith, has left Amalya jaded about sex-until a devastatingly handsome new client triggers her most forbidden desires and delivers an enticing surprise.
Levi Spencer, Duke of Ashford, has been offered a deal he can't refuse in exchange for safely slipping Amalya back into Lilith's lair. But a demon with a vendetta is plotting something far more sinister than Amalya's death. And if Levi and Amalya can't stop him, it will mean the end of the world.