|Title: Demon’s Bride
Author: Zoë Archer
Series: Hellraisers #2
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Reviewed by: Julia
Sexual Content: Several sex scenes.
Hell to Pay
Leo Bailey may have been born to poverty, but ruthless business sense and sparkling intelligence have made money worries a thing of his past. It doesn’t hurt that the Devil himself has granted Leo the ability to read the future.
But even infallible predictions are a déclassé commoner’s trick to some members of the ton. They’ll never see Leo as their equal—one good reason to prove himself their better. And a noble marriage is an obvious start.
Bookish Anne Hartfield, daughter of a baron, is hardly the flashiest miss on the marriage market. But her thoughtful reserve complements Leo’s brash boldness in an attraction neither can deny. A whirlwind courtship sweeps Anne and Leo into a smoldering marriage before either can believe their luck. But happiness built on Leo’s dark powers can’t last. Soon, Anne will have to save her husband…or lose her heart…
As one of those rare instances when a sequel outperforms its predecessor, DEMON’S BRIDE is a thrilling blend of gothic romance and dark magic that offers a well-paced mix of suspense, romance, and action. These elements were well-balanced and fun, and while Archer’s writing style perfectly compliments this period romance, I would have liked to feel a deeper emotional connection with our hero and heroine.
Perhaps my criticism stems from the fact that the gothic romance that opens DEMON’S BRIDE was my favorite part of the book, bringing to mind to delicious darkness of REBECCA or JANE EYRE. I loved how Archer treats Leo’s pact with the Devil like the “big secret” romance trope, a strategy that works very well here. I doubt any hero’s secret ever required such an interesting twist at the end, as Anne has to slay demons alongside the usual “forgive and forget” devices. As much as I enjoyed the sinister beginnings of this book, I had a harder time switching gears to active opposition of dark forces. The Devil and his minions are so powerful in this mythology that the ending action sequences are always a bit jarring. In DEMON’S BRIDE, however, Anne and Leo’s confrontations with demons were interspersed with exposition that gave me time to absorb before the next action sequence. With such a powerful foe, these reaction and strategy scenes were an essential part of keeping me involved in the story.
Though both the action and romance portions of DEMON’S BRIDE definitely worked better than DEMON’S KISS, I was still missing the deeper connection with Anne and Leo that could have garnered an extra bat. The world building has me very engaged, however, and both Rosalind and the unrepentant Brahm received unexpected very unexpected twists at the end. That is enough to ensure that I’ll be back for more Hellraisers, if only to see what other rogues have a hope of being saved.