Wednesday, February 25, 2009

REVIEW: Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

Published June 24, 2008.
Grand Central Publishing

NOTE: I read Pleasure Unbound in June 2008 when it was first released, yet never got around to writing a review for it. Since it is my favorite paranormal romance for 2008 and since I will be posting a review of Desire Unchained, Book 2 in the Demonica series very soon, I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on the first book as well.

Pleasure Unbound is the first novel in a dark, paranormal romance series by Larissa Ione called Demonica. The Demonica series takes place in and around an underworld hospital that is hidden from human awareness and was created by demons for demons. In this world, demons live both on Earth beknownst to most humans, or in Sheoul which is the demon realm far beneath the surface of Earth and is very much what humans would consider Hell. Demons can travel to and from Sheoul as well as throughout the world using Harrowgates which are invisible portals that only demons can detect. When a demon or other worldly creature such as werewolves and vampires, are injured by either other demons or human demon slayers, they come to Underworld General Hospital (UGH) for medical attention. UGH lies hidden from humans, and it is also considered a demon safe haven of sorts, as the rules governing the hospital were created to guarantee treatment for all beings and in fact powerful spells prevent patients and employees from acting out in violence while within hospital walls. With one minor exception, that is; the founder of the hospital Eidolon, and his brothers Shade and Wraith, can beat each other up without recriminations.

Eidolon, Shade, and Wraith are incubus demons who share the same Seminus demon father, but different mothers. At approximately 100 years of age, a Seminus demon enters his final stage of maturation called S'genesis. It is only at this stage that a Seminus demon can procreate with females of any species of demon by temporarily taking on the appearance of a male demon of her species. If a Seminus reaches S'genesis and has still not bonded with a permanent mate, the demon becomes mindless, focusing on one thing, and one thing only: Procreating with as many females as possible, never giving a moment's pause for consent. If a post S'genesis Seminus demon loses control like that, the demon is typically--hopefully--hunted by his own brethren and killed.

Eidolon is the eldest of the brothers and is rapidly approaching his S'genesis. Having been brought up to serve demonkind as a Justice Dealer, Eidolon has developed strong control over the sexual needs typical of his kind and is rather particular about the females he mates with. When the sexy, feisty demon slayer Tayla Mancuso arrives in his hospital, however, he can all but resist her. Is it the onset of his S'genesis that weakens his control or is there something special about this specific female that has him wanting a female like he's never wanted before?

Tayla Mancuso is a demon slayer, or Guardian. As a member of a human organization called the Aegis, she has pledged her life to hunt and kill demons, which Aegis do indiscriminately, thinking they are protecting humankind from evil. When demon EMTs from UGH arrive at the scene of a demon attack to retrieve the injured demon, they find Tayla in critical condition decide to bring her to the demon ER as well. Admitting a human--a human demon slayer no less--in demon hospital is unheard of and common opinion is to dispose of her. Eidolon's brothers as well as other members of the staff think that Tayla should at least be tortured for information about the Aegis' involvement in the wave of demon deaths caused by live organ harvesting. However, the laws governing the hospital, written by Eidolon himself, not only demand that she not be killed, but also that she be treated for her injuries, so Eidolon heals her. He also happens to discover something very peculiar about her DNA when he has her under the knife. Something so peculiar that even Tayla is unaware of.

Upon waking from surgery that has essentially saved her life, Tayla is delirious and hits on her physician, thinking she's having the best dream of her life. Eidolon's typical control over his sexual urges slips and he and Tayla have a passionate encounter that rocks both their worlds. Ultimately, though, Tayla comes around and is shocked and abhorred to not only learn she just had sex with a demon, but that she's in a demon hospital and was healed by one no less! Tayla always thought of demons as pure evil, randomly preying on humankind, so to discover that some demons may actually be good sends her for a loop, forcing her to practically question her entire life.

Eidolon ultimately goes against his peers' wishes and decides to release Tayla. In order to get her out of the hospital safely, and to keep the hospital's location secret from her, Eidolon takes it upon himself to escort her to her apartment, using a spell to mask their location until they're far from the hospital. A slight detour on their way to her place, however, begins to shed light on possibilities that Tayla never deemed possible. As circumstances keep Tayla and Eidolon together, and the truths about the blackmarket demon organ ring are revealed, Tayala discovers the lines between good and evil, demon and human are not as distinct as she has once thought. There are in fact shades of gray when it comes to all creatures. The possibility that maybe not all demons are the evil monsters that she's always believed, and the possibility that maybe her 'family' at the Aegis compound could actually be involved in the organ harvesting becomes very real. And maybe, just maybe... some humans are more evil than the demons.

Tayla had a tough upbringing and had been exposed to some of the darkest evils in the world as a young girl. Her past drove her hatred of all demonkind and made her into a lethal demon slayer. Hunting demons was all Tayla knew of life and Eidolon was the perfect wake up call to her biased views of good and evil in the world. Any other demon wouldn't have had the tolerance or patience with Tayla, but Eidolon is driven to protect and heal her in more ways than one.

Of course, the sexual attraction between Eidolon and Tayla becomes undeniable for both of them, and slowly they begin to understand, trust and care for one another. Both Eidolon and Tayla are faced with some serious issues of their own, so their developing relationship seems even more unrealistic and impossible. Yet against all odds, Eidolon and Tayla fight those those challenges and obstacles and heal each other, coming together in a happily ever after they both never thought possible.

Pleasure Unbound is brimming with perfect doses of all the elements of paranormal romance that I've come to love. It's dark, edgy, sexy, emotional, intense and at times very amusing. The story has lots of snappy dialogue and graphic actions scenes that keep the story moving at a fast and entertaining pace. The world is unique and well developed and the characters are neither righteous or sinful, but perfect shades of gray.

The relationships between Eidolon and his two brothers are built on camaraderie and loyalty that runs deeper than even they would dare to admit. They never hesitate to verbally or physically spar with each other, but in the end, they always have the others' backs. The relationships between these three brothers, as well as the dark, complex world of demons and humans are what will keep me coming back for more in the Demonica series. I can't wait to see what the future holds for this diverse and unique cast of characters.

GRADE: A+ Pleasure Unbound is my favorite paranormal romance of 2008.

Desire Unchained is Shade's story
and was released yesterday, February 24, 2009.

Review to come!

Passion Unleashed is Wraith's story
and will be released on March 31, 2009.

You can visit Larissa Ione at her website


  1. As Always, a GREAT reveiw Christine!

    My copy of "Desire Unchained", arrived yesterday and I am so looking forward to the read.

    "Pleasure Unbound", was my favorite read overall of 2008... :)

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Warm Regards

  2. Mmmmmmmm...this makes me wanna go back and re-read PU.

    But I'm ashamed to admit I've been "off" paranormal lately. I even bought Desire Unchained two weeks early and haven't started it yet.

    But Larissa is a great writer and her style lends itself very well to dark paranormal romance.

  3. Christine - I adored Pleasure Unbound! It was my favorite contemp/para of last year. I thought the balance between heat and paranormal was fantastic! And Ione has created such a fascinating other world.

    Awesome review, my friend!

  4. Wonderful review Christine! I read PU a while back. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it :)

  5. Great review Christine. It provided me with the perfect opportunity to refresh my memory of 'Pleasure Unbound' so that I may be ready for 'Desire Unchained'. I'm so excited for this next installment in the Demonica series. Now I just need to scavange the house for loose change so that I may have the hopes of purchasing it. :)


  6. Thanks everyone! I read Pleasure Unbound back in June 2008 when it was first released and loved it so much, I've even reread it twice! My most recent reread was a week or two ago right before I read Larissa's latest release Desire Unchained. I figured it was a good way to refresh my memory of the events prior to Shade's story. I also figured I really ought to post a review of it since it was my favorite PNR of 2008. And what better time to post it than right before my review of Desire Unchained, right? I hope to post that review later tonight.

    I can't wait to hear all of your thoughts on Desire Unchained, though... so get reading, people! ;)

  7. VFG:: Maybe you'll get lucky and win a copy of Desire Unchained from Amy's contest! :)

  8. I was wondering how in the world you remembered so much to write this review all these months later, but you said in a comment that you reread it recently! No way would I remember that much :). haha

  9. Fantastic review. I loved this one and am soooo looking forward to DU!

  10. Oh yeah, that's right Christine! That girl hosts some awesome contests.

    I'll wait another day before my scavenge hunt begins.


  11. Yay, so glad you liked it. This is in my TBR pile. Guess I should move it up.

  12. Christine..what a fabulous review! Knowing that a book *I* wrote was a favorite is a dream come true. With all the fabulous books that came out last's just beyond a dream.

    Thank you! And thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts on the page -- it's readers like you (and everyone who commented) who make this job worth it!

  13. Great review Christine!

    Pleasure Unbound is the first novel in a dark, paranormal romance series by Larissa Ione called Demonica.

    And the word 'dark' had me hooked ;)

  14. Here is yet another book I've had on my tbb list. But jeez, I think I need to move it up the list after reading your review (tho' I admit I skimmed the plot details cause I live in terror of spoilers.) Just reading your opinion and the comments has sold me!

    thanks Christine!

  15. You know, reading your review, thinking back to my impression of this novel, and in light of some of my recent reads, I can't understand/remember why I graded it just B-. Maybe I should read it again.

    As always, great review.

  16. Your reviews always trump mine LOL not fair!! I really enjoyed this book I just got around to reading last week and posting a review. I am wishing I hadn't waited so long. But then again that's the story of my life.

  17. This was one of my favorites of 2008, as well. Such a fantastic book!

    Larissa just sent me her posts for the DIK blog. I am hopping around like a squeeing fangirl!

  18. To those of you who have this book in your TBR piles, now would be a great time to read it. Then you can jump right on board to Desire Unchained and then just a few short weeks until Passion Unleashed!

    To those of you who have been meaning to buy this book... well... go buy it! LOL Now is a great time to catch up on this series. See above paragraph. ;)

    Larissa :: Thanks for the sweet comment! I love the creativity behind the Demonica world and the possibilities that you've so creatively set up for future stories in this world. Your story telling voice is just perfect for this dark, paranormal world and I hope it continues to do well. That way you can get contracted to keep writing Demonica books.... and I can keep reading them! Win-win if you as me! :)

    Taja:: LOL! No worries... sometimes a book just doesn't strike you the same way it does someone else. And I see you've got Desire Unchained on your reading list, so you're still interested in the world, which is great!

    Sarai:: Oh, pleeaaase. You write great reviews. Especially when you LURVE a book. You're one of the best fangirls out there! :)

    Shannon:: LOL! Run with it! :)


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