Grand Central Publishing
February 24, 2009
Caution: This review contains slight spoilers from the first book in the series, Pleasure Unbound.
For a more thorough explanation of the Demonica world, see my review of Pleasure Unbound, Book 1 in the Demonica series.
Desire Unchained is the second book in Larissa Ione's dark paranormal romance Demonica series. The series revolves around the three brothers who operate a demon hospital called Underground General Hospital (UGH). Eidolon is the founder and lead physician of UGH, and is the hero of the first Demonica book, Pleasure Unbound. At the end of that novel, the human culprits behind an ugly demon organ harvesting ring were discovered and killed. However, questions were still left unanswered questions and the brothers strongly suspect there are others even more powerful than the humans behind the ring who need to be taken out.
The hero of Desire Unchained is Shade, the Seminus demon born from an Umber demon mother. A product of rape between his un-mated post s'genesis father and a docile Umber demon who normally only births females, Shade was still welcomed, loved and nurtured by his mother. Umber demons are extremely protective, nurturing and family oriented--all traits that Shade has inherited from his mother. Shade still harbors guilt over tragic losses in his family when he was young, and has consequently become even more protective of any females he comes to care about. Although he does his best to hide this protective streak, he really does long to be bonded to a mate and have a family of his own. Unfortunately, that can never happen because Shade is love-cursed.
Many years ago, when compelled by his gift of healing to help a female, Shade was love-cursed by the woman's angry wizard husband. The curse dictates that Shade would live in eternal torment--a fate worse than death-- should he ever fall in love. At the time of the events of Pleasure Unbound, Shade had a fleeting fling with a young human named Runa who was shy, demure and rather clingy, yet she tugged at his heart like no other female. When she walked in on him in bed with two female vampires, it was nothing short of a blessing in disguise for both of them. Had he continued a relationship with Runa, he may have fallen for her and set the curse in motion, dooming them both. Instead, because of his Seminus demon nature, he inevitably betrayed her, causing her to flee from him. Heartbroken, Runa ran from his apartment and into the clutches of an enraged werewolf at the cusp of the full moon. The werewolf's mate had just been violently killed by human demon-slayers before, and in a violent rage, the werewolf attacked Runa leaving her for dead. Runa survived the werewolf attack, however, and now months later, has returned in search of Shade determined to confront him on his betrayal of her several moons ago. She gets to confront him, alright, but not exactly on the terms she had planned.
Runa and Shade are abducted from the vicinity of Shade's apartment and held captive in a castle dungeon. The dungeon, they soon find out, of the villain behind the demon organ harvesting ring. The villain is a surprising one, and his motivations behind the organ harvesting are very gruesome and cruel. Luckily, Shade and Runa manage to escape the castle, but not before they were tricked into bonding--which will inevitably lead to the death of one or both of them. Shade already had a soft spot for Runa when she was human. Now as a strong, capable werewolf, she's even more alluring to him than ever before. She literally will be the death of him. Unless he kills her first, that is.
Killing Runa is exactly what Shade's brothers propose to do as soon as they learn of Shade and Runa's bonding. Shade, however, needs Runa to see him through the transition of his S'genesis. He thinks it might just work, too, since Runa is still very angry with him and makes it quite clear she's over her heartbreak and wants nothing to do with him. But of course, it's not really that simple. She's got a few ulterior motives of her own that send Shade for a loop. Without giving away too much of the plot, let's just say that both Shade and Runa have one hell of a time trying to stay alive and out of love with each other. They're both complex individuals with complex issues of their own. Once they're bonded, their problems just get even more complicated. Oh, and don't forget they've got the evil villain to take down, too.
The romance between Shade and Runa is very complicated both in what they truly feel in their hearts and in what they outwardly say and do to each other. While it is fairly obvious to the reader that they are attracted to and care about each other's well being from the start, the issues they face individually and as a couple are nearly insurmountable and it really would be best if they remained disconnected. Especially given the fact that the only way out of their situation is the death of one or both of them. Yet, as the story progresses and the plot thickens, forces drive them even closer together and Shade and Runa find answers in each other that might just make dying for the other one the ultimate expression of love. With the help of family, these two star crossed lovers fight for their happily ever after in a battle of strength of mind, body, and heart.
The complexity of Shade and Runa's romance certainly kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what else could possibly come between these two and how they could possibly get their happily ever after, but there are a few other elements of this story that really make it noteworthy. One is the brotherly bonds shared between Eidolon, Shade and Wraith. The past and present problems that these demon brothers carry on their shoulders are larger than life, and they guys outwardly give each other a lot of grief. They bicker, they accuse, and they even exchange a few punches now and then. Yet beneath their tough demon exteriors, these guys truly love each other. When push comes to shove, they'd each do anything to protect each other. Even the reckless bad boy, Wraith. Yes, it's true. Wraith might just prove to be the most heroic of the three yet. There are some great scenes between the brothers, one that got me teary eyed and others that quite honestly steal the show. Well, those brotherly scenes and a scene or two between Wraith and Kynan.
Speaking of Kynan, the fantastic cast of secondary characters in Desire Unchained is another element of this series that contributes to its overall appeal. The characters in this world are all very unique and appropriately developed as the series progresses. In Desire Unchained, the complexity of their relationships with the main characters and the other secondary characters is really well done. No secondary characters outshine the hero or heroine, yet the story just wouldn't be complete without them. For those fans of Pleasure Unbound, you'll be pleased to know that there is an interesting secondary plot involving Kynan and Gem. It's a bit dark and bittersweet, but works perfectly with the tone of the series.
Desire Unchained is another dark and intense story in Larissa Ione's Demonica series. The characters, their relationships, the diversity of the demon species, the conflicts, the strength of family bonds, and the complexity of it all really pull this story together and make Desire Unchained a great read in this fascinating world.
Thankfully there isn't a long wait for the next installment in the Demonica series. Wraith's book titled Passion Unleashed is scheduled for release on March 31, 2009. Based on events in Desire Unchained, I think we can expect a romance that is going to turn Wraith upside down and inside out!
You can visit Larissa Ione at her website http://www.larissaione.com .