Larissa Ione – “Pleasure Unbound”

29 Jan

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Grand Central Publishing, 2008

SERIES: “Demonica” series, #1

WHY THIS NOVEL: I read some favorable comments and I felt like reading a paranormal.

The back blurb:
“Tayla Mancuso is a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure–but fears it will always be denied her. Until she lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.
Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable–and let Tayla possess him, body and soul…”

One of the first things I thought when I read Pleasure Unbound was that it was a huge mix of familiar paranormal elements while at the same time it was able to stand on its own.

There is a lot going on in this novel. At the center is the romance between Tayla and Eidolon which features an attracted-to-the-enemy premise and the mystery that brings them together: who mutilates demons to sell their parts on the black market? Eidolon thinks the Aegis, a society of human warriors that fights demons, is behind that while Tayla, a member of Aegis, can’t believe that and well, demons are Eeeevil. Also, as the first novel in the series, quite a few characters and hints of future stories get introduced.

There are strong shades of Buffy with all the demons and vampires, and Eidolon and his brothers reminded me of other paranormal romance series. But it was all good because Ione makes them all her own and she seems to enjoy writing the story, like when she references Buffy by making “Buffy” a name demons use for Aegis warriors, for example.
The thing that really struck me about the world created in this story is that it is a very sexual (Incubus demons) and really gory world. The lines between good and evil are blurred, there is a lot of gray, and there is violence, torture, pain and loss. Love and caring seem more an exception than the norm. Tayla’s voice and thoughts offer a welcome relief from that.
The demons and creatures Ione introduces are quite imaginative whereas the inner workings of the world so far are mostly left alone, leaving a more sketchy impression overall. But as the first in the series, I have no problem with sketchy and what I read about Heaven/Hell was promising so I look forward to what will come there.

The main characters, Tayla and Eidolon, are enemies but both have to deal with more things than just being attracted to the enemy: Tayla gets her world turned upside down and Eidolon, a dedicated healer, faces a transformation that basically means he’ll lose everything important to him: after the change, he will be driven to procreate indiscriminatingly and think of nothing else. Only finding a mate before that will keep his nature in check. Phew.
There are also interesting bits about Eidolon’s two brothers and a few other secondary characters, like the half-demon nurse or the leader of the Aegis society, Kynan.

For quite some time, what Tayla and Eidolon share is sex and not love, and sex against their better judgement at that (mortal enemies yada yada). Love is something that sneaks up on them. But talk about some hot scenes between these two. Of course, the stakes were in favor of that with Eidolon being an Incubus demon, Eidolon’s approaching transformation, his being unable to get off on his own, Tayla’s problem, and so on, but oh my. Even better: the romance still worked.

Some thoughts:

  • I liked the reversal of roles in this story: the hero is the healer while the heroine is the fighter.
  • I also liked that the heroine’s problem with sex didn’t vanish into thin air just because the hero showed up. No five orgasms the first time here. Quite the contrary. But Ione goes further. She makes the hero an incubus, a demon species that has women orgasm practically by default, which I thought nicely exaggerated the usual virility of hero’s in romance novels. And Tayla…her reaction is not what Eidolon’s used to there.
    (But still, the resolution happened too fast in my opinion and I also was a bit disappointed with the reason for the problem).
  • I liked that there is a lot of gray in this story and its characters. The lines between good and evil are not clearly defined and there are a few surprises on the way.
  • I was especially drawn to a certain character/”story” ever since I read the first whiff of it. I’m really curious how that will turn out.

Verdict: I was pulled into the story right away. It was near the end that I thought the pacing faltered some: there were quite a few plot lines to deal with and I thought some important ones didn’t get the attention they deserved because of that. Everything was wrapped up rather fast. So Pleasure Unbound went from being a good to a decent read (3,5/5). But I enjoyed reading it a lot and I look forward to reading the next one which fortunately comes out in a few weeks.
Sometimes it isn’t so bad to be late to the party.

7 Responses to “Larissa Ione – “Pleasure Unbound””

  1. Christine Friday, January 30, 2009 at 5:26 am #

    Great review, Taja. You hit on a lot of key points and insights on this novel. I agree that the resolution of Tayla’s sexual problem was too easy, but for me that was the only thing I didn’t love about this story. The world–gory and edgy and like you said, lines between good and evil VERY blurred, which I think is very rare in paranormal romance–truly captured my attention. I thought there were welcomed doses of humor and unconventional type casting of the characters that made it stand out as well. The happily ever after isn’t all perfect either. You know the couple will have to work at their relationship, which is true to real life, so I really liked it.

    Oh well. Your grade of 3.5/5 is still pretty good. So I’ll still be your friend even though you didn’t like this book as much as I did… as long as you’ll still be my friend for making you buy and read this one because of my glowing raves about it! LOL!

  2. Christine Friday, January 30, 2009 at 5:27 am #

    p.s. But if you give Blue-Eyed Devil anything lower than a 4.5/5, I’m breaking up with you. Just saying. 😛

  3. Taja Friday, January 30, 2009 at 9:32 am #

    Christine – I don’t regret that I bought and read Pleasure Unbound. In fact, I would have ordered the next one right away if possible so I actually thank you for recommending it. I thought Ione gave her take on paranormal romance her own special and interesting twist, namely for the things you listed in your comment here. These are the things I really liked and enjoyed and the reason why I’ll buy the next one without a doubt. I like edgy and I think that Ione does some interesting things in this series.

    The grade – which I want to get away from a bit anyway – is more a reflection of feeling let down about how a few things (mostly concerning Tayla) at the end were handled. I wrote that I enjoyed reading it a lot. 🙂

    Your PS: *gulp* *not a good morning* *writes note to give Blue-Eyed Devil at least a 5+/5 no matter what* “wants to stay friends with Christine*

  4. Christine Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    LOL! I’m totally kidding about the grades and breaking up thing. But you knew that already. Besides, I think it’s great when readers have different perspectives on what makes a book really work for them. It allows for some great discussion! 🙂

    So really… no pressure on Blue-Eyed Devil! ;p

  5. Taja Friday, January 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    *laughs* Yep, I knew that. That’s why I wrote “at least a 5+/5” – my puny attempt at being funny. 🙂

    One of the things I like best about no longer blogging just for me are the (disagreeing) comments I get on my review posts. They force me to think which is always a good thing because on my own, I’m lazy. LOL

    So keep the comments coming, even the disagreeing ones for my favorites! 🙂

  6. nath Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 5:26 am #

    Yay, you read one of the book in your TBR pile!!

    I have this in my TBR pile as well 😀 will try to pick it up soon 😀 Happy you enjoyed 😛

  7. Taja Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Nath – writing about my tbr books nearly always gets me to read. 😉

    I look forward to reading your opinion about Pleasure Unbound!

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