StarCrossed 2 by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine

 StarCrossed 2: Opposite Ends of the Spectrum by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine

Blurb:
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 he is caged beside a fellow ‘freak’ who should be his mortal enemy.

A prisoner of the carnival long before the demon arrived, Kelly, the ‘Scarlet Angel’, has almost given up hope of ever escaping his captors. His extraordinary hair and wings quickly catch Dekin’s interest and lustful stares.

Thrust together by the cold fingers of fate, Dekin and Kelly are forced to put aside their differences and work together. The appearance of an artist with an unusual talent puts the fragile bond between angel and demon to the test. Dekin and Kelly quickly discover that although life together will never be easy, life apart would be unbearable.



Review:

What are you willing to do or sacrifice for love? In this return to supernaturally inhabited Salem, the theme is continued from the first installment of this gritty series. If you’re afraid to look too deeply into your relationship, then you should probably move to another city. Holding nothing back, this newest installment pits angels versus demons in the far more cruel setting of humanity than hell could ever be.

Dekin is an incubus demon who is no innocent. He feeds off the plethora of sexual deviants and energy that flows in abundance through the back allies and underground world of the porn industry. His arrogance finally drops him into trouble as he’s captured by unscrupulous carnival propietiers. He’s now to become the newest attraction, a dark demon pitted against the brilliant light of an angel.

Kelly is the opposite of Dekin in experience but interestingly has an indulgent scarlet red hair and wings, a visually stunning contrast to alabaster skin. He is young and frail, more so than just the appearance of malnourishment and abuse. His easy acceptance of Dekin is in contrast to his hope to be spared further violence. He may be innocent but Kelly is far from naive. He has a strength that is attractive and compelling, as much as Dekin’s capacity for darkness.

Although used to serving different parts of humanity, Dekin and Kelly are no fools to the cruelty of men, thus giving them no doubt that they will work together to free themselves. The appearance of the teenage girl Elizabeth is the hopeful contrast against the callous attitude of the carnival handlers. Where the handlers look to demean, humiliate and abuse, Elizabeth offers belief, sincerity, and faith.

Once Dekin and Kelly have escaped they eventually make their way to Salem and work out a way to be together. While these two are not a love at first sight relationship, a shared past and trust in each other develop into lasting emotion. However, life for a demon and an angel is guaranteed not to be easy and the problems inherent in their paring are many and complicated. Ultimately motivated by equal parts fear and love, Dekin arranges for another demon, Jace, to come and help the couple.

Jace is electric, imbuing a sense of energy and dark purpose to the story. He remains very much a mystery with set of morals and rules unique to him. He may feel compassion but he is unequivocally a demon without a conscience. Dekin knows the price of eliciting Jace’s help, showing the depth of both his love and misguided fear. Jace isn’t going to give you the help you want, he’s going to give you the help he feels you need. Trusting a demon to make that choice is questionable at best, but makes for an engaging and fascinating take on a matchmaker.

This is another interesting and creative turn in Salem with it’s magnetic personalities. Although this is the second in the series, it’s easily read on it’s own. With the authors’ ability to create fascinating and vivid scenes, I was somewhat disappointed at the carnival background. It volleyed between bright and flat and the initial sex scene between the men was disjointed and missing the easy flow of the story.  Once the duo hit Salem though, the story increases the level of intensity and imagery.

This is well-written tale showing that falling in love isn’t always the hard part. The difficulties come in sustaining that love when life isn’t always neat and tidy and when hardship, pain and jealousy are just as prevalent as love, caring and passion. The relationships depicted are neither easy nor light, but sacrifices that are made in the name of love create deeper and evocative emotions and lasting relationships. This isn’t your classic fantasy or romance, nor should it be. It catches your breath, clenches your stomach and causes you to say, “don’t do it” more than once. If you like urban fantasy with a gritty reality to your characters, this delivers.

Get it HERE!

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