Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of those reviews where I have to admit I'm wrong. I didn't like Wraith at all before I read this book. I thought my feelings would be unlikely to change, even though I love this series, and Larissa Ione's writing. Well, I was dead wrong. There. I said it. I ended up loving Wraith. And I have no regrets.
Wraith is one of those heroes who snuck up on me. I think it was the sign of the high caliber of Ms. Ione's writing. Wraith is very in-your-face with his often unlikeable, selfish nature. But Ms. Ione employed a careful subtlety in crafting his story. I went into it thinking that he was callous and uncaring. But I came to realize that he had a massive defense mechanism going on. There are few people that have the power to make or break another person. And parents are at the top of the list. If someone goes bad, the first instinct is to say that he wasn't raised right. Well, that's not always true. But, I think it's very true in Wraith's case. His mother treated him like he was an abomination. I'm not saying that she doesn't have a reason to feel some bitterness about Wraith being forced on her by his Seminus demon father. But to treat a child the way she did was just plain wrong. It's no wonder that Wraith was lacking in moral character. He cared about his brothers, and killing vampires. Not much else, after that. Sex was important because a Seminus demon will die without it. But I don't even think that sex was all that important to him. It was something that he did to stay alive. To him, seducing females was a biological imperative. When he found out he had to seduce a virgin human woman in order to survive the toxin he had been poisoned with, that's when things got complicated. Because of the tortures his mother afflicted on him, Wraith stays far away from human females. But, he has no choice. And he's almost ready to say no to doing it, until he finds out that the hospital that his brothers and he built will fail if he dies, there's no getting out of this particular seduction.
When Wraith and Serena meet, I could feel the chemistry, but Wraith is still in callous mode. I was still unconvinced of him as hero I could fall for. But slowly that starts to change as I saw how Wraith ended up loving Serena for who she was, how he protected her, and how he continually passed up on opportunities to do 'the deed'. And as I saw how tender his heart was, buried under many layers of scar tissue, I was seduced into softening my own heart to him. How he suffered as his body shut down, but wouldn't take Serena, knowing he'd cause her own demise. How he gave her pleasure without consummation, which contributed to his own agony. That was the mark of selfless love. By the end of this book, I was deeply in love with Wraith. In fact, he's my favorite brother up to this point.
Serena's character was well-drawn as well. She had lived her life knowing she can never be fully intimate with a man, or she'll die. But she's managed to live a full, adventurous life, regardless of that. I liked her passion and her spirit. And her good heart. She was just the woman for Wraith.
Another 'character' that took center stage was the awesome world-building and storytelling. Ms. Ione has this reader impressed. Her world is so rich and fascinating. The way she took this concept to the next level by incorporating fallen angels, one who longs to return to Heaven, and another who strives to bring Hell to Heaven and to rule over earth as a god. What a marked, fascinating conrast. The complexity of the demon species, and their interactions with each other. How very different they all are. In my mind, a demon is a demon. Not so in this series. In some ways this series has an intense, horrific vibe to it. Not that I'm complaining. I am a fan or horror, after all. She gets serious props with the way she's able to make me feel uneasy with some of the aspects of this story. And the action sequences were excellent, with smaller skirmishes and smack-downs, and full on epic battles. The characters get hurt, and sometimes mortally. The cost is higher than you can even imagine.
The tension in this book is sustained, as you wonder how things will work out. In this dicey situation, success can only occur at the expense of someone else. Who will live? Who will die? You don't find out until almost the very end of the book. And things aren't wrapped up in a neat package. A sacrifice has to be made. But at the same time, I came out of this book very satisfied.
It's hard to get everything into words, but I was thoroughly satisfied with this book. I was kept guessing what would happen, in a state of delightful suspense, as this book unfolds. I was completely entertained with the beautiful romance, fiery passion, the family dynamics, the incredibly interesting world-building and lore-spinning, and the grand adventure of it all. This was just a great book all-around.
I can't wait to read Lore's story. I'm already in love with him!
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