Serena Kelly is a treasure hunter who tracks down artifacts for the Aegis, a demon-hunting organization. At the age of seven, her mother bestowed her with a special charm that saved her life after she was poisoned by a demon, and it basically makes her invincible. But the charm only stays in effect if she remains a virgin. Now a grown woman, she's a restless adventurer, traveling the world. While she has remained virginal, she's not exactly innocent, and she's finding it increasingly difficult to maintain her chastity. While on the hunt for two artifacts that could bring about the end of the world if they fall into the wrong hands, she meets the enigmatic Josh who stirs her desire in ways she's never felt before, making her wonder if she's finally met the one man she won't be able to say no to.
Wraith is a Seminus demon who lives his life on the edge. Because of torturous events from his past, he hunts down vampires and kills them for sport, despite being part vampire himself. While on the hunt one night, he's injected with a poison for which there is no cure, except the charm which Serena possesses, but to get it, he'll have to seduce her and take her virginity. For an incubus like him, that should be no problem, but because of his past, he has an aversion to humans. When Wraith finds out that the future of Underworld General Hospital is also on the line, he can no longer refuse and goes undercover as "Josh," a contact Serena is supposed to meet. But as he accompanies Serena on her quest for the artifacts and gets to know her, he slowly and surprisingly finds himself falling for her. Just as the charm is finally within reach, Wraith is no longer certain that he can sacrifice her life for his own. And if the villainous demon who's been chasing them the whole time gets his hands on the artifacts first, Wraith may no longer have to worry about any of that.
Demonica: A Demon Compendium - A short reference which introduces readers to the Demonica world, it contains encyclopedic information on the various demon species, background on the hospital and the world building, and descriptions of the key players in this universe.
The Reckoning - In 1928, Eidolon and Shade, can sense another demon brother out in the world somewhere. They've been searching tirelessly for him, and with their other brother, Roag, in tow, they finally locate him in Chicago. But what they find is a broken and dying Wraith who has just been brutally tortured by his vampire kin. Can Eidolon and Shade put him back together again and will he accept them as his new family?
Passion Unleashed is the fast-paced, action-packed, hot and sexy third installment of Larissa Ione's Demonica series. In this one, we have Wraith, the last of the trio of demon siblings who founded Underworld General Hospital. Unlike his brothers, Wraith isn't a medical professional. Instead, he hunts down and procures rare artifacts and antiquities, some of which help with the treatment of patients and others which are sold off to help fund the hospital. When he's poisoned by an assassin, he must find the rarest of gems, a human woman who has been charmed by the angels, for it's only by taking her charm that he can be cured. He just didn't expect to develop feelings for her and start to care that she would be the one to die instead if she lost her charm. I've really enjoyed the Demonica books so far, but this one has now gained a slight lead as my favorite of the ones I've read up to this point. It really kept me on the edge of my seat with lots of tense, suspenseful situations that I wasn't entirely sure how our intrepid hero and heroine were going to get out of, making for a great read.
Wraith is a breed of incubus known as a Seminus demon, but his mother was a vampire, so he has some vampire traits as well. However, after being severely tortured by vampires all his life until his brothers found him, he harbors a deep hatred for their species and hunts them for sport. Thinking he would never mate, he forced himself into the second maturation of the Seminus, known as s'genesis, via magical means. Now that he is a fertile male, his main objective is to spread his seed far and wide with as many females as possible in hopes of procreating. That all changes, though, when an assassin, sent posthumously by Wraith's insane brother, Roag, comes gunning for him and poisons him with a substance that has no known cure. His only hope for survival is to steal an angelic charm from a human woman that would make him immortal, but he must seduce her into having sex with him in order to take it. After humans being fed to him by his vampire kin as part of their torture, Wraith had sworn off ever having sex with one again, but to save his own skin and Underworld General, he's willing to do just about anything. However, once he meets Serena and begins to get to know her, he starts to develop feelings for her that make him have misgivings about taking her life to save his own.
Initially Wraith was a teensy bit too alpha for my taste, not really exhibiting the emotions and vulnerabilities that I prefer my romance heroes to have, but as the story progressed this definitely improved. I also thought that perhaps his reasons for falling for Serena, when he'd sworn off humans, could have been better explained, but I was able to mostly set that aside because the emotional and sexual connection between them was off the charts. Otherwise, Wraith was a great hero. I may have had doubts about him in the beginning, but he definitely won me over with his willingness to go up against the bad guy to save Earth and all of humanity from being taken over by a demon horde. I also was very impressed that he gave up on taking Serena's charm, realizing that it would be selfish to take her life along with it, and that more than once he was the one who shut down their sexual activities to prevent that from happening. I also couldn't help but like him for his kindness and gentleness as a lover, which was something I wasn't necessarily expecting from a hero who'd been so badly abused in his life and who'd pretty much only viewed females as an outlet for his lust and a means to an end, since a Seminus will die without sex. Also his difficulty understanding why Serena cares for him tugged at my heartstrings. For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, though, Wraith didn't entirely drawn me in the way many other similar romance heroes have, but I could still point to a number of things I liked about him and enjoyed seeing him get his HEA.
Serena works as a hunter of artifacts for the Aegis, who are the demon hunters of the human world. Serena's mother held the angelic charm before her, but when Serena was attacked by a demon as a child and lay dying from its poison, her mother arranged to have the charm transferred to her to save her life. Now she's invincible... as long as she remains a virgin. While hot on the trail of two important artifacts that must not fall into the wrong hands, she encounters Wraith who is masquerading as Josh, an Aegis Guardian who was supposed to meet her and help in her quest. Maintaining her virginity hasn't been easy for Serena, but most of the time, the knowledge that she'll die if she gives it up is enough to put a damper on her libido. With "Josh" she has a hard time staying in control, as he tempts her at every turn, and at first, she doesn't know that part of it is being caused by him using his incubus powers on her. Serena is an adventurer who has a hard time staying in one place, much preferring to be on the move and traveling the world. Initially this made her a little difficult for me to connect with, because I'm not that type of person, but it didn't take long before I felt like I understood her. She has a more feminine, nurturing side that came out when "Josh" started revealing some of the horrors of his past, and when the poison in his system made him ill, she was there, caring for him. Of course, when she learns the truth about him really being a demon, it's a huge blow that understandably upsets her. But I liked that she was open-minded enough to give Wraith a chance to make things right.
The Demonica world is a very complex one with lots of supporting characters, many of whom play pivotal roles and/or are the heroes or heroines of other books in the series. Probably most important are Wraith's brothers, Eidolon (Pleasure Unbound) and Shade (Desire Unchained), and to a somewhat lesser extent their respective mates, Tayla and Runa. They provide much-needed love and support for their sibling and the woman he falls in love with. Next would probably be Kynan and Gem, whose story has been playing out as a secondary romance within the first three books of the series. In this one, they finally figure it all out and find their HEA, but not without plenty of drama getting there. And Kynan in particular ends up playing a huge role in the final demon battle. Then there's Lore, who is one of the assassins sent to kill the trio of demon brothers. I sensed the author trying to make him a sympathetic character early on, and there are some surprising things revealed about him as the story progresses. He also becomes the hero of the next full-length book of the series, Ecstasy Unveiled. There's also Reaver, a fallen angel who works as a physician at Underworld General. Not only is he pretty involved in this story, but he also gets his own book, the tenth of the series, Reaver. And lastly, of course, we have the big, evil baddie, Byzamoth, who won't stop until he's taken over the entire world and exterminated all humans.
I may not always get quite as wrapped up with the heroes and heroines of the individual stories as I often do with other romances, but the reason I love this series so much and keep coming back for more is the creativity Larissa Ione exhibits within its pages. I follow several paranormal romance series, but I can't think of any I've read so far that have such an extensive cast of paranormal creatures. The demons are at the forefront and there are numerous breeds of them included, but in addition, there are also vampires, weres, shape-shifters, humans, and half-breeds, as well as angels, both fallen and not. Aside from the broad variety of characters, the primary setting of a demon hospital is just too good. It's something that I never in a million years would think would work and yet it does... in spades. Plus the author always seems to keep me on the edge of my seat, guessing what will happen next and how the heroes and heroines will get their HEAs, and I'm never disappointed with the ride to getting there. That's why Passion Unleashed and all the books so far have been winners for me, and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more in this exciting and imaginative series.
Demonica: A Demon Compendium - Although GoodReads has this listed as a separate prequel "book," as far as I can tell, it was only ever published as bonus content at the back of Passion Unleashed. It's a short encyclopedic reference which gives a brief introduction to the series, descriptions of each of the various demon breeds that are a part of the stories, background on Underworld General Hospital, and descriptions and stats on each of the main characters of the series up through Passion Unleashed. It's a nice, informative companion reference to the series thus far. I learned a couple of new things by reading it. And since there's not really anything included that could be considered spoilers, it might be helpful to readers just starting the series to read this first, which is probably why GoodReads has it listed first. Overall, it was an appreciated addition.
The Reckoning - "The Reckoning" is an original short story included in the compendium. It takes place about eighty years or so before the main series and tells the story of how Eidolon, Shade, and Roag meet Wraith. They can feel an unknown brother out there and go looking for him, only to find him severely tortured by his mother's vampire clan and near death. It was interesting to see all the brothers way back in the beginning. Eidolon and Shade have always been great guys and they show that again in this story, making heroic efforts to save Wraith, even though they don't really even know him. It's all about family for them, which is why they're also trying to have a relationship with Roag, who hasn't yet devolved into the murderous villain that he was in Shade's book, Desire Unchained. I really enjoyed this little peek into the demon brothers' early lives.
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