Title: Heaven’s On Fire (Cambion: Dark Around the Edges #1.1)
Author: Cari Z
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 16,605 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Demons, Action/Adventure, Warrior/Assassin/Agents, Big Explosions!, Vegas
Rating: Really Liked It
Devon Harper is a cambion, the offspring of an incubus and one of his female followers. Discovered by those who could’ve helped him too late to be saved from his nature, he barely survived a brutal childhood before getting a handle on his powers of seduction. Lust, sex, desire: these are second nature to cambion, and are their road to both riches and ruin. Devon has the power to bring people to their knees with a glance, to drive them so crazy with pleasure that they forget their names, and occasionally forget to breathe as well. He could use his birthright to force the world to worship him, but Devon is trying to fight against the pull, to do what he can to track down people with the power to summon a demon and stop them before more cambion can be made. But Devon doesn’t realize that the path he and his friends are following is only one strand of a web laid in place by a demon who’s not content to wait on the whims of humanity to get out of Hell. Devon is this demon’s key to staying above ground permanently, and when he finally catches up with the cambion, he’s not taking no for an answer.
Episode 1: Heaven’s On Fire
Devon’s infiltration of a Chinese kingpin’s lair doesn’t quite go off as planned, and lands him in a dangerous predicament. Shangdi knows about Devon, and knows how useful a cambion can be, particularly to his partner, the mysterious demon summoner Porter Grey. With time running out for Devon, it’s up to the even more mysterious Rio Pagani to storm the compound and pull Devon out before Porter can put his plans for the cambion into motion.
I’ve long been a fan of Cari Z’s work, but it wasn’t until last year when I read “Opening Worlds” and Changing Worlds that I really fell in love with her work, so you won’t even believe how excited I was when I saw that she was going to be writing the other serial started this month at Storm Moon Press. Kris Piet even had to write to tell me to be patient, I was asking about it so vehemently ;) Thankfully, it lived up to my hopes and really made me excited for this season. Writing a serial must be hard, especially a published serial, because the first episode really counts. There’s so little room to make an impression and show a fully fleshed character (or two), because that’s what really hooks the reader. And I rarely give out more than a Pretty Good rating for the first story in a long series of releases. Usually all we get is a small grasp of what is to come, and a Pretty Good rating is like saying that the author(s) did the best they could with a limited opportunity. But here, I felt like I would have been happy, in most respects, if this were a standalone story. The relationship arc will take a lot longer to develop, but this was sexy enough and the characters have enough chemistry that I felt like it went above and beyond what I was expecting.
Devon is a cambion, a quasi-demon birthed from a human and an incubus. His dual nature affords him special and unique abilities — the best of both races — and some detractions from them both as well. He has magical demonic powers, the most powerful of which is his natural ability to inspire lust. Devon is also a supernatural spy of sorts. Working for a private contract group whose secret mission is to police the underworld of demonic summoning, Devon executes his job like a demonic Mata Hari. He and his group have long been searching for a nasty demon summoner, known for his cruelty, intelligence and luck in escaping authorities and they have finally traced him to a … pleasure house of sorts, run by an old Chinese man named Shangdi who delights in rather perverse displays of cruelty to demons. But when Devon is made deep inside his mission, he’ll need extraction before he’s made an example of for the pleasure of the house. And extraction comes in the way of a rather tall, gun-happy and dog-loving Rio, a man who Devon really likes.
I’m really excited about what is to come this first season of the serial. Devon seems like he can easily get into all kinds of trouble and Rio can always get him out. And the chemistry they have together is explosive. What I really loved was how funny I found this to be, mostly in tone. The point of view comes from both Devon and Rio, so we get a different variation on the scene depending on who is narrating, but what their voices both have in common is a kind of nonchalance for the violence they cause. That detachment struck me as funny for some reason, in a bit of a Tarantino way. And combined with the fact that everything Devon does is tinged with sex, made for a unique and well-written story. I’m just glad that it’s only the beginning!
**Just a note! You can buy each of these stories by themselves (and this one, as the first story, is only $.99), but if you buy a season pass at Storm Moon Press you also get lots of goodies over the course of the season, like a DVD box set — freebies and extra goodies :)