Pleasure Unbound

Larissa Ione
2008, Urban Fantasy
Grand Central, $6.99, 406 pages, Amazon ASIN 044640103X
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Hot

Fans of urban fantasy will happily devour Pleasure Unbound. In Underground General Hospital, the staff are all demons, and for the most part so are the patients. Our story begins when a critically injured human demon slayer is brought into the hospital and must be treated by the demon doctor.

In this world, there are a number of demon species, and many of them are not exactly nice. Our hero, Eidolon, is a doctor in a hospital that treats demons and other paranormal creatures. Eidolon is also a Seminus demon - a type of incubus. When a Seminus demon reaches s’genesis, he is able to impregnate females and is compelled to have sex with as many women as he can. Eidolon knows the score and frankly he dreads it since he has always yearned for a true mate – someone he could bond with forever. Sadly, females who are bond mate material are very rare. Eidolon’s s’genesis is fast approaching, and he is jittery, horny and generally on edge.

Humans don’t live in harmony with demons (there’d be no story if they did). An organization called the Aegis trains humans and sends them out to destroy demons and other supernatural creatures. Tayla Manusco is one of the best of the demon hunters and for her it’s personal – her mother was raped and murdered by a demon (a Soulshredder). As the book opens, Tayla is brought into the hospital along with one of her intended victims, a Cruentus demon. Tayla is injured and even though she is a slayer, the Hippocratic oath still holds true for Eidolon. As he treats her injuries, he discovers that she is part demon.

Tayla and Eidolon have sex, but she has been so conditioned to think of demons as totally evil (and she has other issues as well), that she ends up running from him. But not for long. Pretty soon, Tayla can’t deny that she is changing...and her Aegis friends are going to become her enemies.

Pleasure Unbound is a very dense book. In it, Larissa Ione builds her world, sets the stage for future stories, introduces a whole cast of characters and – oh yes – tells Tayla and Eidolon’s story. She succeeds pretty well in this, although there were a few times when I got a bit disconcerted at the rapid shifts in points of view. My biggest gripe is with the glossary in the front of the book – it’s totally inadequate. For example, there are a number of breeds of demons besides the Seminus demon and they all have their unique characteristics (the Cruentus demon lives to fight, for example), but they aren’t explained. A more thorough glossary would be very helpful when the next book in the series comes out.

Tayla is a tortured and totally kick ass heroine. She has been through hell in her life and the Aegis took her in and saved her. She feels a sense of obligation toward them, but her relationship with Eidolon turns her world upside down. Tayla was brought up to think of demons as evil. Period. To find Eidolon, who is a demon, yet totally dedicated to healing even those who are his enemies is totally disconcerting to her. When Tayla realizes that the Aegis can be as cruel and evil as the demons (there is a nasty torture scene here), she finally sees that things are not as cut and dried as she has thought all her life.

Eidolon is a dedicated doctor who right now is going through a very difficult time in his life. He has a pretty good relationship with his two brothers Shade and Wraith (who will get their own books later), but the relationship is not without its rough patches. The scenes between him and Tayla are hot as can be, but I never really understood the initial attraction between them. Later yes, but at first – I was left befuddled as to why.

But despite a few rough patches, this is a promising start to a gritty and hot series. I will most likely read the next books as they are published. I used to think I didn’t like urban fantasy, but since I like my mysteries hard-boiled, I'm fast realizing I like my fantasies urban and gritty.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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