As a Seminus demon, Raze must have sex with females in order to survive. He's never truly desired females, but being with a male exclusively isn't possible because of his biology. Raze has had a long-standing arrangement with Fayle, a female succubus, who keeps him alive, but theirs has never been anything more than a cold, clinical relationship that's left him deeply lonely. He's tried to come to terms with the way his life must be and finds some solace in his work as a medic at Underworld General Hospital. He also moonlights at the vampire club, Thirst, as their in-house medic. One night a rough-looking, mysterious male named Slake shows up at the club, sending Raze's lust for what he can't have into overdrive. He tries to brush off the attraction, knowing nothing can come of it, but after a tragedy at the club involving several people he knows, all he wants is to allow Slake to comfort him, leading to an incredible night of sex. But if Raze learns the real reason Slake is there, will he be able to forgive him and will they be able to find a way around Raze's biological imperative to be together?
Slake is a bounty hunter of a sort who works for a shady demon law practice. Years ago, he sold his soul to them in exchange for completing a hundred jobs. He's down to his last job, and if he successfully completes it, he'll be free, but if not, his soul will be forfeit. Slake has been sent to hunt down Fayle, who's on the run from her family, and return her to them. Then he meets Raze at the club and discovers someone who might be worth putting down roots for. However, when he finds out that Raze literally depends on Fayle for his life, Slake balks at bringing her in. The last thing he wants is to hurt the male he's growing to care for, but when he unsuccessfully petitions his employer for another assignment, he quickly finds that he won't have a choice if he wants to keep his soul. But Fayle has developed a deadly jealousy toward Slake that could put his and Raze's relationship in danger, too, leaving the two males fighting for their lives and a future together.
Base Instincts is a side novella in Larissa Ione's Demonica series that falls between Hades and Z in the series chronology. Raze is a Seminus demon medic we've briefly seen before working at Underworld General, but he also moonlights at the vampire night club, Thirst. Seminus biology is such that they need sex to survive and can only climax with females, but Raze is gay, which leaves him in a pickle. He's had a longstanding arrangement with Fayle, a female succubus who services his bodily needs, but nothing more. What he doesn't know, though, is that Fayle is keeping secrets from him. Slake works for a demon law firm that has sent him to find and capture Fayle. In the course of his investigation, he spots Raze at Thirst and is deeply attracted to him. When he discovers that Raze has ties to Fayle, it seems like everything is coming together, but after spending one night with Raze and getting to know him better, Slake knows he can't betray Raze by taking away the female who's been keeping him alive. However, if Slake doesn't bring Fayle to his employer, his soul will be forfeit. If Slake comes clean with Raze about his true mission and his background, Raze may never forgive him, and even if he does, they might not have a future together if they can't find a way around Raze's biological imperative.
Like all Seminus demons, Raze has an innate healing ability that makes him a perfect fit for UGH, but needing extra cash, he also took a second job as an in-house medic at Thirst. As a gay male, he doesn't really enjoy being with females even though his biology demands it. Fayle has been with him since his first maturation thirty years ago and they have a mutually beneficial arrangement, but one that is clinical and cold. Even though she drives him a little crazy with her jealousy and doesn't give him any genuine affection, he's stuck with her, because he hates having to seek out random females multiple times a day to service his needs. Raze would dearly love to have a male to share his life with, but he's pretty much accepted his lot in life. When Slake shows up at Thirst, Raze's lust goes into overdrive, but knowing nothing can come of it and not wanting to piss off Fayle who's been bitchy about him bringing home other males the few times he tried it in the past, he initially pushes Slake away. But after a tragedy strikes the club, Raze simply needs the comfort that Slake seems willing to provide. The two hit it off, but when Raze finds out exactly why Slake is there, it could ruin the good thing they have going. I adored Raze. Like all the males in this series, he's yummy and strong and can take care of himself, but at the same time, he has a tender, vulnerable side that makes me want to wrap him up in my arms. He worries what others would think if they knew he was a gay Sem. Fayle is about the only one who does know and she doesn't treat him well, only providing for his needs because she's getting something in return. Raze is starved for kissing, touching, and just simple affection, so when Slake gives him all those things, he soaks them up like a sponge. I was so happy that he found someone he could love, trust, and share his life with.
Slake is a bounty hunter of a sort who works for the demon law firm Dire & Dyre, which is perhaps an apt name, because he's in dire circumstances. Years ago, he sold his soul to the Big Boss, Mr. Dyre. In exchange for performing a prescribed number of jobs for the firm, they keep him safe from his family who want to execute him for a choice he made a long time ago. He has just one more job to complete before he'll be free, and if he fails, his soul will be forfeit. The job involves bringing in Fayle who he's tracked to Thirst. While scoping the place out, he gets an eyeful of a gorgeous medic who makes his body sizzle with lust, and when he finds out Raze might be the key to getting Fayle, he thinks he might have just hit the jackpot. However, after the club tragedy, all Slake wants to do is be there for Raze, which leads to the best sex of his life. After learning exactly what Fayle means to Raze, though, Slake knows he can't betray him by taking her away, but getting out of this job without losing his soul proves more difficult that he could have imagined. And if Raze ever learns the truth of his origins or why Slake was there in the first place, he might not be so accepting. Slake is a little rougher around the edges than Raze but no less appealing. He has his own deeply sympathetic backstory that makes him quite vulnerable. He has a former lover who was never able to accept him for who he truly is, but who keeps plaguing him every decade or so with promises of having changed. And then there's his family who've completely rejected him and even want him dead. Slake found his perfect match in Raze who sees and appreciates him for exactly who he is.
Perhaps because it was released by a different publisher than Ms. Ione's other Demonica books, Base Instincts has minimal connections to the rest of the Demonica world. The only common characters seen are Eidolon (Pleasure Unbound), Wraith (Passion Unleashed), and Revenant (Revenant), but it still had all the flavor of the Demonica stories I've come to love. I adored both Raze and Slake and thought they made the perfect couple in more ways than one. Raze has a kind heart that defaults to the "Do no harm" mantra of the medical profession. Even when he's in the throes of an uncontrolled rage induced by lack of sex, he still has the presence of mind to pull back from hurting Slake. For his part, Slake may be a bit more cynical, but meeting Raze changes his outlook on life. Even with his soul on the line, he simply can't betray Raze like he was initially planning to do. All the interactions between these two are heart-stopping romance at its best. The characterizations may be wonderful, but the story is great, too. Larissa Ione has always impressed me with her ability to plot stories that keep the reader on their toes, and Base Instincts is no exception. The plotting was tight and played out beautifully, leaving me with the perfect sigh of a happy ending done well. I couldn't have asked for a better read and I'm hoping maybe we'll see these guys again somewhere down the line. Base Instincts has definitely earned a spot among my favorite stories in the Demonica world.
Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, including a brief M/M/F menage scene, which could be objectionable to sensitive readers.
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