by Larissa Ione
September 12, 2015
As a Seminus demon, Raze’s life literally depends on having sex with females. The problem is that he doesn’t desire females, and it’s physically impossible for him to be with males. Thankfully, he and his best friend, Fayle, have an arrangement that keeps him alive… if lonely. He finds some solace in his work as a medic at Thirst, a vampire club known for its rough clientele. But his carefully structured world turns upside down when he meets a mysterious male who makes him want what he can never have.
Slake is an assassin used to getting what he wants, and what he wants is Raze. But he also wants to earn back the soul he sold when he was a much different demon. All he has to do is capture a runaway succubus named Fayle and hand her over to her family. What he doesn’t count on is being caught himself by a web of lies—and his attraction to Raze.
Raze and Slake must navigate a dangerous world to be together. But as Fayle’s jealousy of their relationship turns deadly, they find themselves embroiled in a battle not only for their love, but their lives and souls.
Larissa Ione’s Demonica series depicts a convoluted world filled with demons, angels, and humans. Most of the demonic types have very specific ways of interacting with one another, which sets up immediate conflict (because if you have powers that can destroy other demons, for example, it’s an issue when you try to actually have a relationship with one).
In Base Instincts, Larissa takes the usual conflict found in m/m romance — that the two heroes shouldn’t be giving in to their desires because of societal strictures — and ups the ante, making it actually impossible for Raze, the Seminus demon, to be with whom he really wants to be: a male. When I first started reading it, I was so impressed with the conflict, which is far more dangerous and literally life-threatening than the standard romance. The way she resolves it is a remarkable and innovative tour de force.
If you’re not familiar with the Demonica world, the setting can be confusing, so it’s probably best not to read this as a standalone (and even if you are familiar with the world, Larissa throws a lot of detail into her series so it’s easy to forget all the rules. Thankfully, she reminds us so we’re not completely lost). But if you are willing to wade into the world (and you should! It’s really an intriguing set-up), the pay-off is so worth it.
Raze is not the same type of Seminus demon we’ve met in earlier books in the Demonica series. He is — dare we say it? — a caring, beta male, not the fierce Me Want Sex Now type one would expect of a demon who literally needs to have sex in order to survive. He is loyal, caring, warm, and conflicted. One thing he is not is happy, but he finds brief moments of content through his work and his interactions with other people. When he and Slake meet eyes across a crowded nightclub, he finds himself wanting what he absolutely cannot have.
Slake is more of a traditional paranormal hero (albeit with a huge twist that we won’t reveal here), an aggressive alpha male who knows who he is and what he wants — and right now, he wants Raze. Their mutual attraction is immediate and off-the-charts, and when they eventually get to it, they are explosive together, not just sexually, but emotionally. Slake discovering he can care for someone he’s attracted to is a lovely journey, and his admiration of Raze’s caring spirit made me all gooey.
The novella is far richer than what one would normally expect from a shorter book, sometimes almost too packed with detail (though the details — such as Fayle’s reason for loving colors — are wonderful). It adds another layer of nuance to Larissa’s already nuanced Demonica series.