Title: Made for Sin (8/30/2016)
Plot Type: Paranormal Romance with an Urban Fantasy (UF) flavor
Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—4; Humor—2
Publisher and Titles: Loveswept (Penguin/Random House)
The novel is set in an alternate, modern-day Las Vegas where magic is everywhere. If this book is any indication, future sequels will be following Speare on a series of adventures, some related to his own demonic possession and some centered on various magic-related criminal investigations that come his way.
If you are a fan of Kane's CHESS PUTNAM/DOWNSIDE GHOSTS series, you need to know that this one is completely different—set in a more realistic world and not nearly as grim (although it is dark in tone). Click HERE to read my reviews of the CHESS PUTNAM series.
If Speare fails to sin regularly (and frequently), the Beast within him becomes enraged and takes over his body, forcing long talons through his fingertips and tearing up his muscles as it swells his body to enormous size. At that point, Speare is only along for the ride—an unwilling witness to the murder and mayhem that the Beast leaves in its path. Speare has never formed any emotional attachments with women because he learned long ago that they all run away from him when he attempts to tell them even a little bit of truth about his "condition." Speare falls for Ardeth as soon as he sees her. She is a beautiful, red-haired thief who has grown up in the magical Las Vegas underworld, and her feisty directness immediately knocks Speare off balance and into lust/love. As he proceeds to break his no-romance rule with Ardeth, he constantly worries that his demon will hurt her or even kill her if he can't keep it under control at all times.
Along with Ardeth, the other major supporting character is Chuck Majowski, a Las Vegas police detective who is on the payroll of Speare's mobster "daddy," Lazaro Doretti. Even though Majowski is on the take, he turns out to be a stand-up good guy at heart. Together, Speare and his two allies attempt to figure out who is dismembering underworld figures with a demonic sword and why. When they find a dark magical artifact that might help Speare get rid of his demon, Speare is forced to make a terrible choice between a demon-free life and a life without love.
Speare tells the story in the first person voice from his own anguished, world-weary, perspective, and that is a bit of a problem because his thought process is much more feminine than masculine. This is a frequent glitch that occurs in paranormal romances when a female author tries to write from a male perspective. The title of that infamous book—Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus—states it correctly. Men and women react in entirely different ways to emotional stress, particularly within romantic relationships. Most of the time, Speare displays too much feministic emotional sensitivity. He comes across as a typical male in very few scenes. I'm a big reader of urban fantasy written by male authors (e.g., Kevin Hearne, Ben Aaronovitch, Simon R. Green, Jim Butcher, Benedict Jacka), and their heroes do not obsess over their heroines' sweet smells, shiny hair, and gorgeous complexions as Speare does. (He...could smell her, a light spicy scent mixed with vanilla. A warm scent, An intriguing one.") In fact, Speare comes across more like an over-the-top passionate soul-mate hero from a novel by Christine Feehan or even Amanda Ashley (but without the über-alpha protectiveness), so if that's O.K. with you, you'll probably enjoy this book. One of the few female authors of urban fantasy who handles male first-person narration successfully is Kate Griffin in her MATTHEW SWIFT series.
Even with the hero's "voice" problem in Made for Sin, I did enjoy reading the book. Speare is a sympathetic character as he lives a life of forced sin and keeps his demonic secret from everyone in his life. He has tried everything to rid himself of the Beast in his head, and he has searched everywhere for information as to how and why he was possessed—and by what. Unfortunately, all of his attempts have failed. The Beast won't even let him commit suicide because it doesn't want to lose its earthly vessel. So Speare leads a sinful life, tattooing counting lines on his chest to mark the mortal sins he has committed and the thirteen lives he has taken to keep the Beast fed. "He kept the marks, and kept adding to them, so he didn't forget, ever, what he'd done and what he'd keep having to do. So he didn't forget that no matter what he liked to think of himself, he had less chance of avoiding a pit of fire in the afterlife than he had of discovering the Lost Dutchman Mine under his house."
I hope that Kane intends to turn this into a series because I'd like to see how Speare deals with the new information about his demonic possession that he learns at the end of Made for Sin. Kane has created a fresh and inventive mythology for her hero, and he's just getting started on a long, hard road to normalcy—if that's even possible for him. Also, we didn't get a chance to meet Speare's mom in this book. She's a former casino show girl who led a wild and crazy life as Speare was growing up, so I'm sure that she would add a lot of bling to the series.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Made for Sin is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.