Title: Damned If You Do (the complete collection)
Author: JL Merrow
Cover Artist: Imaliea
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Buy Link: Damned If You Do: The Complete Collection, Riptide Publishing
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Rating: 5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A collection of four novellas, each more humorous and well crafted than the previous with a cast of characters that steal their way into your heart and leave you with a smile on your face.
Blurb: Some sins are worth the price.
Sexy male succubus Rael has an insatiable appetite for men that gets him into all kinds of trouble. And he’s just found his favorite flavor: hunky blond detective Lars Thornsson. When those cool Nordic looks combine with Rael’s smoldering dark charms, all Hell could break loose.
Lars’s job at the Paranormal Enforcement Agency means he’s supposed to be policing demons, not falling in lust—or love—with them. But there’s something about this feisty little sex demon that hits all his buttons.
With no shortage of deadly sinners in his city, from serial-killing succubi to drug-dealing demons, all Lars can do is try to keep his private life from interfering with his work. But Rael has a knack for getting mixed up in cases that threaten both their domestic harmony and their lives.
Review: About a third of the way into the first story in this collection I had to flip back and double check the name of the author. I have read JL Merrow–and, unashamedly, loved her work but this? This was a style I had not previously seen from this talented author. This was just plain, unadulterated fun! By the novels end, I had unknowingly fallen in love, hook, line and sinker with two men, Rael and Lars. Could this really be the work of JL Merrow? Oh yes, dear reader, yes.
Damned If You Do (the complete collection) is a collection of four separate stories that build on each other, each featuring a main cast of characters led by the sweet pairing of a half Valkyrie, Lars, who embarrassingly has next to no magical abilities, and the cutest little sex demon you could ever meet, Rael. The two pair off after Rael is summoned by a teenager wanting, well, sex. Unfortunately for the teen, Rael is male and the teen is not gay; fortunately for Rael he is gay and turns on his charms to, uhm, help our the young lad.
However, as we are to see in future stories, poor Rael is a victim of poor timing again and again. At the same time he makes his appearance on earth (having left the second circle of hell), a succubus has been loose draining and killing its victims. Dear Rael would never kill anyone but that does not stop Lars and his partner Rochelle from arresting him and threatening to banish him right back to hell.
Each novella in the collection deals with yet another crime taken on by the fearless duo of the Paranormal Enforcement Agency and somehow always find Rael either “helping” his lover Lars or unwittingly becoming the focus of the criminal’s dastardly plan. From rescuing fire-breathing Salamander’s and adopting them as a pet (Kitty) to starring in a cooking show after the original host is taken hostage, Rael wends his way into each and every case and more deeply into Lars’ heart. However, their secret love affair could land Lars on the street with no job and Rael banished back to hell, something both men worry over every time Rael gets involved.
I have never laughed so hard in my life. Oh this was so very well done and to have each novella be just a bit more clever, just a bit smarter than the one before, I was besotted! If you are looking at Damned If You Do (the complete collection) for some deep or philosophical matter, than you are barking up the wrong tree. This collection is pure entertainment with wickedly intelligent dialogue, plot lines and characters. From the curmudgeonly Rochelle to the insanely dim team of Dee and Dumont (other officers at the agency) author JL Merrow builds a secondary cast that not only compliments our two main characters but who also evolve and grow into a cohesive team that tweak your funny bone and spark your imagination.
Rael and Lars are just a delight. Lars, who questions his every step, is blissfully unaware that while he is falling more and more in love with Rael his little succubus is doing the same. Rael, who puts aside his usual “free love for all” policy and sticks to his man, was so delightful I truly was sad when the novel ended. This collection was so successful that I am hopeful we have not seen the last of this group.
I highly recommend Damned If You Do (the complete collection) by JL Merrow. Fast-paced, witty, and intelligently written, this work is a feast of literary delights.