Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hunting the Demon by Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton - Demon Hunter series


1. Surviving Demon Island - Derek and Gina - see previous commentary
2. Hunting the Demon - Nic and Shay - release date 08/28/07

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books I read fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 6.5” out of 9”

WARNING: THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCEI MEAN IT. I really want you to read Surviving Demon Island because I enjoyed the hell out of it. So, if you even THINK you still MIGHT want to read it, STOP NOW. DO NOT READ THIS COMMENTARY OR ANY REVIEWS FOR HUNTING THE DEMON. Seriously, Hunting the Demon’s story is built around the surprise twist at the end of Surviving Demon Island so any commentaries or reviews WILL contain SDI spoilers.

Now, having bellowed all those warnings, I’m going to sound completely schizo when I tell you that Hunting the Demon CAN be read as a stand alone. I would suggest you at least read the back cover blurb for Surviving Demon Island first so you get the gist of what that story was about (hee-hee, and when you do, you WILL want to read it). Jaci does an OUTSTANDING job of weaving prior events into HtD, so I really don’t think there would be any problems reading it first (other than spoiling the twist at the end of SDI, of course). In fact, I wish other authors were as adept at including back story as Jaci was in this book.

In Surviving Demon Island. we learned of the Realm of Light, a worldwide group that is protecting our world from demon kind- the Sons of Darkness. Most of the Demon Hunters have one thing in common- they've lost a loved one, usually a mother or sister, to the demons. These human women are used as breeders for the demons because female demons are sterile. They are forced to repeatedly give birth to demon-human hybrids who are the foot soldiers for the demon war with mankind. The most powerful members of the Sons of Darkness (Lords of the Sons of Darkness) produce half demons who appear fully human, but possess a darker side that is demon.

The Realm of Light cell we met in SDI relocated to Australia right after the events of that book. For the past couple of months, they’ve had two objectives-- locate and observe Derek’s brother, Nic, (a half demon like Derek) to determine whether his human or demon side is more dominant; and stay one step ahead of the Sons of Darkness, who are trying to locate a mysterious black diamond that will greatly increase their dark powers. Since the Australian Diavolo Diamond Mine is owned by Derek and Nic’s father, Ben, and their uncle, Bart (both powerful Lords of the Sons of Darkness), and Nic is employed by the diamond company, the Realm of Light assumes there is a connection between their two objectives.

On the surface, Nic is an easy going, laid back Player- he travels the world searching for a good time surfing and club hopping. But he’s plagued by nightmares that contain swarms of hideous creatures surrounding him.

Shay, whom we met as a Realm of Light “contestant” in SDI, has been having visions about Nic. Not only has she NOT told anyone about those visions, but she has kept her psychic abilities a secret from everyone in her life.

When it’s decided to kidnap Nic to determine once and for all which side of his nature is dominant and find out what he knows, Shay plays “bait” to lure Nic to the Realm of Light’s base of operations. Complications arise when the two experience a powerful psychic and physical connection. Will Nic learn to trust Shay and the Realm of Light enough to believe the incredible story that his father and uncle are Lords of the Sons of Darkness, that he is half demon, and that Derek is his brother? Or will Nic betray Shay and the others because he assumes they are some kind of fanatical religious group? Or, even worse, will Nic’s demon half prove strong enough to destroy them all?

Jaci Burton has written an action packed, heat filled, kick-butt Paranormal Romantic Suspense story. This is one of those rare Romances where the reader’s sympathy and empathy lie mostly with the hero. It’s Nic’s story from page one, where we find out about his recurring nightmares, through his disbelief and confusion, to the end, where we discover whether his dreams, that Shay now experiences with him, show his unavoidable destiny with the Sons of Darkness or just a possible outcome that can be changed.

That's not to say Shay isn't sympathetic, though. She may be brave enough to fight demons, but she’s afraid to live and love fully. Jaci gives us heroines who fight side by side with the men while still being 100% female. And I have to tell you, it’s refreshing to read about women who go into battle without an argument from the men in their lives; without their significant other relenting and reluctantly giving his PERMISSION for them to fight. They fight as EQUALS. As I’ve said before, Jaci does not insult her reader’s intelligence.

Ah, but Jaci DOES give me a reason to grumble at her. She starts a secondary story between Ryder (also an SDI “contestant”) and an archeologist, Angelique, who has been hired to find the black diamond for a museum. At least that’s the story as Angie tells it. At first, I thought Jaci was giving us a “bonus” story, but n-o-o-o-o, instead the ebil tease decided to build a cliff hanging mystery around Ryder and Angie and won’t be finishing THAT story until the NEXT Demon Hunter book- The Demon's Touch! She's trying to write that one now, but Ryder just won't let her alone long enough to write it! I always suspected Ryder wasn’t going to be content taking a back seat to Derek for very long, and it looks like, with the next book, he no longer considers himself a Demon Hunter In Training (or even a FICTIONAL character). Hell, he won't even let Jaci tell him what to do anymore! Seriously, just look here and here!

Listen, the whole demon trend has already oversaturated the market as far as I’m concerned. I read glowing reviews nearly every day for yet another demon story but I’ve pretty much arrived at the point where I stop reading as soon as I read the word “demon“. However, there are a few authors who wrote about demons well ahead of the trend and, in my opinion, are doing it RIGHT (which might explain why it became a trend in the first place). The idea of demons as heroes just doesn’t work well for me. I think a lot of us have a "root for the underdog" mentality which works well when the story is about heroic humans saving mankind from the evil demons and their dark powers. The reverse however, heroic demons with powers saving demon-kind from evil humans, just doesn’t elicit the same reaction.

Jaci Burton was one of the trend SETTERS with Surviving Demon Island. I hadn’t read a story like it before, not even close, and I sang it’s praises to anyone who would listen. And now, with Hunting the Demon, the adventure continues like a Saturday afternoon movie serial… only with lots more nummy men… who find their partners in strong women… and freakin’ STEAMY erotic scenes.
Piquant Opines: RJ, LR, RT, and on her blog, Jaci has linked to the ARC winners who have blogged about Hunting the Demon

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