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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Author:  Erica Hayes
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence5, Sensuality5, Humor2
Publisher and Titles:  St. Martin's
       Shadowfae (2009)
       Shadowglass (2010)
       Poison Kissed (2010)
       Blood Cursed (2011)

    This post was revised on 9/10/11 to include a review of Blood Cursed,

     The series is set in an alternate Melbourne, Australia, where demon lords  (supernatural, but still Italian) rule over an underworld citizenry composed of both humans and supernaturals (e.g., fairies, vampires, spriggans, banshees). Picture a super-natural Sopranos, but with boundless deceit, endless sexual deviance, and unceasing violence. 

     Most of the characters have had horrible childhood experiences and/or have been betrayed in both their personal and business relationships. Nobody trusts anybody in this worldand with good reason. Each book follows one couple as they misunderstand and mistrust each other all the way to their HEA. In most of the books, the story revolves around grim O. Henry-esque plots in which the one thing that the hero and heroine each desperately wants will destroy the other.   

     Click HERE to read a free, downloadable short story, "Hellcursed," which is a prequel to the first book in the series.

       BOOKS 1, 2, and 3:  Shadowfae, Shadowglass, Poisoned Kiss       

     In Shadowfae, a succubus and an incubus in thrall to Kane, the powerful and horrible demon lord of Melbourne, scheme to escape his hold. 

     In Shadowglass, two fairies try to counteract the effects of an evil mirror that both have, separately, stolen from Kane. 

     Poisoned Kiss tells the soul-mate romance story of a banshee enforcer and her snake-shifting mobster boss (supporting characters in Shadowglass as they discover the truth about her mother’s murder. I believe that this is the very first time (after reading thousands of paranormal novels) that I've encountered banshee/snake sex (including scales, fangs, venom, and coils)weird but compelling.

            BOOK 4: Blood Cursed            
     The fourth book tells the story of the romance between Diamond, a scary glassfae gangster who was a major villain in Poison Kissed, and Ember, a beautiful bloodfairy whose blood is like ambrosia to vampires. As the story begins, Ember tricks a vampire into drinking her blood so that she can steal his gemstone pendant for her lowlife boyfriend, Jasper. When the deal goes horribly wrong, Ember learns that the gemstone is much more than a piece of jewelry and that Jasper has involved himself in a soul-selling deal with the monstrous demon, Kane. Now, Jasper has dragged Ember into the whole messy situation. Kane gives Ember two days to retrieve more of the gemstones or he will send her soul to hell. Coming to Ember's aid is Diamond, the jaded drug dealer who is Jasper's boss and who has his own reasons for being interested in the gemstones. 

     As Ember and Diamond set out to find and capture the gemstones, they are attracted to one another, but each tries to fight it. Both have tragic pasts, which they try to repress. Diamond is trying to recover from a romance gone bad. His former lover (Rosa) left him for Angelo Valenti, the wily 350-year-old vampire who is one of the two rival mob leaders of Melbourne. Diamond still loves Rosa and would do almost anything to get her back. Ember has been kicked around all her life. She sees herself as a weakling, dependent on various untrustworthy men to protect her, and she's pretty sure that Diamond is no different from the rest. Treachery and double crosses are integral parts of the plot, as each character tries to undermine the others so that he or she will come out on top. As in the earlier books, there is a twist to the conflict: Ember and Diamond both need to recover the gemstones, each for a reason that will result in death and/or despair for the other.

     Many explicit scenes of blood lust contribute to the high violence and sensuality ratings for this series. Frequent over-the-top graphic sex and ruthless brutality are integral to the action in each book.

     This is an original, inventive series with well-planned world-building and complex characters. Even though most of the characters are members of the underworld, they are not all completely bad. The language reflects the fairy atmosphere, in that it tends to be fanciful and phantasmagorical. The plots are compelling, sweeping the reader quickly through various scenes of the sinister side of fairy life. Click HERE to read the first chapter of Blood Cursed.

Here are some quotations to give you a sense of the tone and the language:

     The action is extremely violent, both in love and war. For example, in  Shadowfae, the foreplay includes a scene in which the hero pushes the heroine off the top of a skyscraper during a love scene. Here is the heroine musing about what happened:  “Where am I again? What just happened? Oh, yeah. Indigo just gave me a blow job. Correction. Indigo pushed me off an eight-story skyscraper, and then gave me a blow job. That doesn’t seem strange at all. Does it? Mirrorsparkled mirth frothed in my chest, and I laughed, fresh and full like a rose bouquet. Life was good.” (Shadowfae)

     Diamond speaks in a "speechified" manner, adding extra syllables to his words (e.g., "itchifies," "tryifying," "fearified," "tricksy," "protectify," forgivify," "slaughterfication," "borificating"). Here, Ember gets a clue to the reason for Diamond's weird language pattern as she gets her first look at his apartment: "Even the walls were a furious clutter of paintings, photos, and drawings, hung crooked and cramped together in a mass work of chaotic art. He'd drawn on them, colored in and over with paint or crayon or glitter. And behind them more spraypainted colors splashed the creamy walls. Even the ceiling hadn't escaped clean. It looked like some epileptic artist had partied with the Unibomber. I stared, overwhelmed. This place was a riot. If this was what his brain was like, no wonder he had a few too many syllables tumbling off his tongue." (Blood Cursed, p. 194)

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