I’m not usually a fan of paranormal romance, but I picked up Bitten (Kelley Armstrong’s first novel) before I was even aware that such a genre existed. Personal Demon is her eighth book in the Women of the Otherworld series, although they can easily be read alone.
Every summary I’ve ever read blows, so here’s my version – Hope Adams is a chaos demon, so she gets thrills from violence, death and other horrific events. Whilst trying to accept her demonic nature, Hope is offered the chance to spy on a group of supernaturals suspected of trying to topple a supernatural organisation. Her werewolf sometime-lover, Karl Marsten, tags along to make sure she’s safe, but Hope isn’t sure how she feels about his closeness. Meanwhile, Lucas Cortez is forced into a family role he’s always rebelled against.
Alright, so mine wasn’t that much better. The summaries of Kelley Armstrong’s books always sound like a Twilight-esque, young adult, fluff-piece or seedy, naked-vampire erotica. Actually, they’re neither. She’s one of my all-time favourite writers because her writing flows so naturally. Ever since Bitten, her books have really stood apart from others of this genre. This is definitely not YA – they can be quite dark, quite brutal and have occasional sex scenes. They’re exceptionally well-written though – her plot-lines are as believable as vampires and werewolves can possibly be and her characters seem to jump off the page.
I think that’s truly the secret behind the success of Ms. Armstrong’s books – the characters. Each book focuses on one of an expanding group of supernaturals – Elena the only female werewolf, Jaime the celebrity yet genuine necromancer, Hope the chaos demon… but familiar characters pop up in each one. As all the stories inter-connect, it’s great to see how the life of each person has progressed, even if that particular book isn’t about them.
The relationships are easily my favourite thing about these books. There’s none of that teenage vampire love-at-first-sight crap. Relationships can sometimes take the span of a few books to develop, and when they do, they seem somehow real. Everyone is aware of their partner’s flaws and weaknesses and arguments do occasionally break out. Each couple speaks to each other in their own special way, teasing and bantering, which makes them seem just like any real-life partnership.
Having gushed about Kelley Armstrong’s characters for far too long… I don’t really like Hope Adams, the protagonist of Personal Demon. She’s whiny and comes across as a little pathetic. All the other books feature such strong, self-sufficient women that Hope pales in comparison a little. Her relationship with Karl saves her from the wrath of my displeasure though – the werewolf thief is interesting and suave enough to more than hold my interest. I love his protectiveness and that he’s not afraid to give her a sharp kick if she needs it (which she does. A lot.).
My other gripe was that this book didn’t really seem that supernatural, but I suppose that’s the problem with the demonic books. Hope never does anything fancy except occasionally feel sick from too many chaos vibes – she feels a little more like a sidekick than superhero. It sometimes seems more like a crime novel than a paranormal romance.
Although this is my least favourite in the series, I still enjoy it. Hope’s struggle to accept her ‘dark side’ was realistically drawn and I can’t wait to see how Lucas comes to terms with his new role in the Cabal.
I’d still recommend starting with Bitten though – it’s by far my favourite.