Title: Star Crossed #2: Opposite Ends of the Spectrum
Author: Jaye Valentine & Reno MacLeod
Cover Artist: Reno MacLeod
Publisher: M & V Tailz
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Paranormal M/M, Fantasy,
Length: 21.3 K words, 59 PDF pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Review Summary: If you’re looking for adventure, with characters that could scare the pants off you and make you either love or hate them, look no further.
Incubus Dekin Swain finds himself plucked from his monochrome, sex-feeding lifestyle and thrown into the harsh, chilling world of a traveling carnival freak show. His life gains a vibrant splash of color when caged beside a fellow ‘freak’ who should be his mortal enemy.
As a prisoner of the carnival long before the demon arrives, Kelly, the Scarlet Angel, has become a sideshow favorite. A valuable commodity, his keepers maintain a close watch, and Kelly has given up hope of ever escaping his captors. Kelly’s extraordinary hair and wings immediately catch Dekin’s lustful interest.
Thrust together by the cold fingers of fate, Dekin and Kelly must put aside their differences and work together in order to flee their jailers. They quickly discover that life together will never be easy, but life apart would be unbearable.
Jaye Valentine and Reno MacLeod don’t write typical stories. Their books are innovative, intelligent and unusual. Their characters grab me by the throat and the plots have unexpected twists which make me think long after I finish reading them. All of this and more can be said about Star Crossed #2, Opposite Ends of the Spectrum.
I reviewed Star Crossed #1, Demon Tailz here and this next book in the series is an extraordinary adventure. Perhaps I should have reviewed the entire series at once because I suspect I’ll be using the same words over and over again.
The plot is daring and characters of Star Crossed #2 are different to those in the first book but there is one recurring character who is a blend of good and evil. Jace is back in his usual role, doing what demons do best, having fun at everyone’s expense while cruelly giving them their heart’s desire but in a way they never expected, and causing much grief and havoc in his own twisted way. Is the way he achieves his ends wrong? You be the judge.
Dekin is an incubus who had been living in Chicago for a long time, doing what incubi do, feeding their sexual appetite endlessly, but one night he miscalculated and was drugged by someone he intended to be one of his victims. He ended up in a cage bound for someplace that was definitely not in Chicago and it turned out he was in Iowa as part of a travelling carnival alongside the other main attraction, a beautiful Angel with red wings and hair named Kelly who was so frail he didn’t seem to have a lot of time left in the mortal world. Their human jailers were beasts who would not hesitate to kill them slowly if they didn’t cooperate and put on a show for the paying crowds, and they demonstrated the extent of their cruelty in case there was any doubt they meant business. However Dekin realized immediately that if they didn’t find a way out they would die in the cages anyway, and he and Kelly managed to outwit their jailers and escape.
10 years later. Kelly and Dekin are still together but the dynamics of their relationship are what made this book so engrossing. There are so many levels and twists in this story and shades of grey that I was hooked from the very beginning. Dekin’s motivations as an incubus are sexually driven so that’s his focus in most of the story, but surprisingly he has a huge heart although there’s a lot of self interest in even his good deeds. I think that he is the most complex and interesting character here and just when I felt I knew him he surprised the hell out of me.
Kelly loved Dekin and understood his need to feed through sex which he can’t provide on a regular basis or he’ll fade away and die since Dekin sucks the life out of him literally every time they have sex, but whenever Dekin leaves to satisfy his raging sexual appetite Kelly is hurt that he”s not enough. Kelly is probably the most open and engaging character in this book and every time he’s hurt by Dekin’s actions and machinations I can feel his emotional turmoil. Being an angel I thought that Kelly would be a bit wishy washy because of his conditioning, but again he turned out to be complicated and showed amazing strength and determination to do whatever it took to hold on to Dekin.
Jace is Jace – a devious demon who on the surface is violent and vicious but he’s multi faceted and not what he seems. His motivations appear to be entirely focused on his needs regardless of the wishes of others, friend or foe, but he proved that you can’t always judge a demon by his horns and tail. I was all set to hate Jace because of his actions but I’ll wait to read the entire series before I decide if he’s worthy of my affection.
This book is definitely not for those readers who are looking for a light read. It’s dark, exceedingly tough to read in parts, the violence is graphic, the characters are not milquetoast, and at times I felt that they couldn’t possibly be redeemed, which shows how wrong I was. In Star Crossed #2: Opposite Ends of the Spectrum (which is aptly named) redemption is in the eyes of the beholder.
Whenever I start a new book I expect it to at least hold my interest but Jaye Valentine and Reno MacLeod went one better by writing a book that’s intense, disturbing, enlightening in terms of character development, it’s teeming with characters that are on one hand honourable (as in honour among thieves), but on the flip side are so despicable I couldn’t imagine that they were one and the same, consequently I couldn’t put the book down. I love paranormal stories that take me to another dimension in more ways than one, and this one delivered on every level. It’s difficult to say why Star Crossed #2 had such a strong and lasting effect on me but one reason could be because the characters are so nuanced. Despite the violence of their actions most of them had qualities that made them likeable, although you wouldn’t want to have them to dinner because you just might be dinner.
If you do get this book be prepared to have all of your views about good and evil tested and when you’re finished you still may not be sure of your convictions, as nothing is absolutely on one end of the spectrum or the other. 🙂 I admire any author who can make me become so involved in his story and his characters that I lose sight of time and place and Valentine and MacLeod are part of that rare breed. They delight in taking readers to the edge of the precipice and giving them a push to see if they can survive the fall. 🙂
Star Crossed #2: Opposite Ends of the Spectrum is a ride you will long remember.
This dark, gay urban fantasy contains graphic violence and coerced sex (rape) and sex with dubious consent.