Half-human, half-demon, Lore was forced to serve his demon master as an assassin. He's done terrible things, but it was all for his sister, Sin. Now he must make one last kill in order to secure his freedom, but his mark is none other than Kynan, the Aegis Guardian whose life he recently saved. Kynan has been charmed by the angels, and as such, only a fallen angel or Lore himself can kill him, making Lore invaluable to whoever paid for the hit. Although his past haunts him and he'd like nothing more than to put it behind him, Lore will stop at nothing to complete this final mission, because if he fails, his master has vowed to destroy Sin. He just didn't count on a beautiful angel getting in his way and making him long for things he can't have, for if he gets too close to her, his demon gift might kill her.
Idess is a guardian angel who was born and raised on Earth. In order to win her wings and ascend to heaven, she must complete her mission first. After centuries of looking out for her charges, known as Primori, she's beginning to wonder when it all might end. Her latest Primori is Kynan, and she's determined to keep him alive at all costs. When she captures the handsome demon half-breed who is out to get Kynan, Lore tempts her at every turn to give up her vow of celibacy. When she discovers that he's only doing the job to save his sister, Idess joins forces with Lore to take down his demon master instead. But little do they know that dark forces bent on revenge against both of them are behind the kill order and other supernatural disturbances at Underworld General Hospital, which means they'll have to fight for their lives first before they can ever find out if an angel and a demon with a deadly gift can have a future together.
Ecstasy Unveiled was yet another excellent book in Larissa Ione's Demonica series. In fact, it has now edged ahead as my favorite in the series thus far. It has all the action, adventure, and intrigue I've come to expect, along with a healthy dose of romance and lots of steamy, almost erotic level love scenes. It's also masterfully plotted in such a way as to keep me on the edge of my seat with never a dull moment. While I've enjoyed all the books in the series and consider them all keepers, this one resonated with me just a little deeper. I think that's because I related to both of the main characters a bit better, as each of them showed more of the emotional vulnerability that I prefer in romance heroes and heroines. The supporting characters are excellent as well. All the ingredients put together made for an incredible thrill ride that I loved reading from start to finish.
Idess is a Memitim, an earthbound guardian angel who was raised as a human and has yet to ascend into heaven. She has heavenly powers, though, and is tasked with looking out for her Primori, the charges she must keep alive at all costs, as they're crucial to some event that has yet to occur. It's not until she fulfills her mission that she will earn her wings and be allowed to leave Earth. Her newest Primori is Kynan, a human Aegis Guardian who holds a powerful amulet and is like a brother to the three Seminus demon brothers who run Underworld General Hospital. Unfortunately their other newfound blood brother, Lore, is an assassin who is tasked with killing Kynan, so that pits Idess against him. She doesn't want to kill Lore, but she'll do anything to stop him from succeeding, including taking him to her home and chaining him to her bed.
Idess is my favorite heroine so far. She's the perfect mixture between kick-butt warrior and sweet angel. She's tough and isn't afraid to fight when necessary, yet she has a much softer side as well. She's very nurturing and loving toward Lore, which is something he's never had in his life, as well as understanding and forgiving of his past and all the terrible things he's done. She's not afraid of Lore's "gift" and makes what she believes will be the ultimate sacrifice to help Lore save his sister and nephew. She also has an air of innocence about her. While not a virgin, she took a vow of celibacy centuries ago, believing that once she knew she was an angel, if she ever had sex with anyone, much less a demon, she would never be able to ascend. Yet at the same time, she's no shrinking violet when it comes to expressing what she wants sexually. In a lesser author's hands, Idess could have easily become a contradiction, but instead, she made perfect sense to me. I loved everything about her and think she was a great heroine.
Lore is half-human, half-Seminus demon, sharing the same father with the other Sem brothers. Sems aren't supposed to mate with humans, and as the offspring of such a union, his abilities are corrupted. He didn't come into a knowledge of what he was until he was twenty when his dermoire markings erupted. Ever since, he can kill with a single touch of his right hand (or bring someone back to life if he chooses). Without sexual release, he can turn into a raging Hulk-like beast who forgets where he is and has a single-minded pursuit of killing. Yet, at the same time, he rarely mates with a female, as he risks killing her because his "gift" is outside his control when he climaxes. Only once has he ever had sexual contact without accidentally killing his partner, something that he feels guilty about. Therefore he tends to lead a pretty lonely life. Before he discovered that he had brothers, whom he doesn't know very well yet, the only person he ever cared about was his sister, Sin. When he went into rage mode in his youth, he left her alone out of a fear of hurting her, something else that he feels guilty for. But when he found out Sin was indentured to an assassin master, Lore tried to get her freed and ended up enslaved as well. He's assassinated many marks and Kynan will be his hundredth and last, the one that will free him once the job is completed. However, if he doesn't succeed in making the kill, Sin will be killed instead. Of course, this leaves him with little choice but to follow through even though he knows Kynan is friends with his brothers and that they wouldn't hesitate to kill him to save Ky.
I really liked Lore and felt like I understood him a bit better than his brothers. Perhaps that's because he has a human side and seemed a touch more vulnerable. Although he can go into cold-blooded assassin mode, he also has a caring side and would do anything for his sister, including giving his life. He quickly finds that he's more attached to his brothers and their families than he thought, too, and is surprised to find that their distrust of him is somewhat hurtful even though justified. When he meets Idess, he becomes the moth to her flame. She's everything that's been missing in his life, sweetness, goodness, and light, yet she's not afraid to fight by his side. He's deathly fearful of killing her if he gets too close, but he can barely resist the temptation she presents. When he discovers that their powers complement each other, it's an eye-opening moment that leaves him feeling like he's met his missing half. I like that he had a reasonable side and was willing to work with Idess to find a way to not have to kill Kynan while hopefully not losing Sin either.
The Demonica novels are a tightly woven series with lots of supporting characters. All the past Sem brothers, Eidolon, Shade, and Wraith, along with their families play a part. It was hard to see Eidolon and Shade at odds, but I was glad that it was caused by something supernatural and not just their own hard heads. As Lore's intended victim, Kynan is there, as well, along with his new wife, Gem. Sin plays a huge role, and she reminds me a little of Tayla. She's an alpha female who doesn't take crap from anyone and who hides any softness she might possess. I think there are some glimmers of vulnerability in her, and I'll be interested to see if she lightens up. She has a brief, steamy encounter with Conall a dhampire paramedic at UGH. I think these two make an interesting pairing and look forward to their story, which is the next full-length novel of the series, Sin Undone. We also see the angel, Reaver, and Idess' father, Azagoth, both of whom get self-titled books later in the series. Lastly we have the baddies. Detharu is Lore's and Sin's assassin master, but a mystery guy named Rariel is the one who hired Deth's underlings for the job. I did figure out who he was a little bit before the reveal, but it was still fun getting there. However, the real villain who's pulling the strings both with the assassinations and with the supernatural occurrences at UGH is definitely a surprise.
Overall, Ecstasy Unveiled was a great read. I must say that Larissa Ione is masterful at keeping the sexual tension flowing while not quite letting her characters go all the way. She did the same thing in the previous book of the series, and I'm extremely impressed with the way she's written some of the most creative and sexiest, not-quite-sex scenes I've ever read in a romance. Lore and Idess may not have intercourse until near the end, but everything that came before was still smokin' hot, so much so that I almost gave the book the full five hearts on my sensuality scale. The other thing that I loved is Ms. Ione's ability to tell just enough story to make it completely satisfying while leaving just enough loose ends trailing to tease the reader into the next book. I can tell there's a lot of story left to tell and I can't wait to get to Sin's book, but first is the novella, Eternity Embraced, which I'm very much looking forward to as well.
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