by Jaci Burton, paranormal (2007)
Dell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-440-24335-9
While other authors opt to go the typical urban fantasy route, Jaci Burton opts instead of take the high octane road and presents an action-packed series instead. Surviving Demon Island is the first book in the Demon Hunter series. The title of the book and the name of the series give away the twist in this story, so I may as well go ahead and talk about the twist anyway in this review. Needless to say, if you still want to remain ignorant about the twist, please press the back button on your browser at once.
Gina Bliss, currently the hottest female action star in Hollywood, is approached with an interesting offer by her agent - to take part in an action-packed reality TV show called Surviving Demon Island. The show is like a glorified paintball game involving participants and "demons", but Gina is thinking of going on vacation after the wrap-up of her latest movie and taking part in a competition that challenges her in a very physical manner appeals to her. It gets better when she meets the hunk in charge of whipping the contestants in shape - Derek Marks, a survival specialist.
However, she soon learns that this show is no game. It's not even a show, in fact. Derek and the people behind the show are members of a secret demon-busting group called the Realm of Light and this show is a way for them to recruit new members into their organization. However, the naughty demons decide to crash the party so Gina, whether or not she really wants to be part of the Realm of Light, is going to have to stick with them and learn some tools of the trade if she wants to leave the island alive.
This is the first book by the author that I've read, although I have her books with Samhain Publishing in my electronic TBR stash. All I can say is, ouch, Jaci Burton writes about sexual tension in such a way that I fear she may cut me with it - that's how sharp the electricity between Derek and Gina is. Derek is all man, baby - a macho, sexy action hero with perhaps a little soft edges to his personality. He's a very physical hero in and out of the bedroom but he has ample vulnerabilities to balance off his macho-man superhero side with some baby-needs-healing side to his personality. Gina is a great match for him. She is also a physical heroine - she loves extreme sports and she can keep up with him, even beating him once or twice on his own turf. She also has no tedious hang-ups about sex, which is nice, and like Derek, she has enough vulnerabilities to balance her physical action heroine nature with some soft edges here and there. These two characters have and make hot, hot, hot love.
I'm not sure about the plot though, which is one reason that prevents this book from being a keeper. It's not that I am distracted by wondering how the Realm of Light will make a famous Hollywood heroine "disappear", it's that I find that Ms Burton doesn't quite succeed in depicting the apocalyptic good-versus-evil fight between humans and demons in this story. The main characters spend so much time lusting after each other or psychoanalyzing their own blues even after the Realm of Light comes into play that there seems to be no great urgency in this battle with the demons. Gina doesn't seem to experience any trepidation of her new role in life or even much curiosity about the Realm of Light, she spends more time lusting after and thinking about Derek. Likewise, Derek spends more time lusting after and thinking about Gina that figuring out how to get everybody out and alive. It is as if the demons are just a convenient backdrop that only comes to the forefront when it's time for the necessary "we need something to end the story with a bang" moment.
Therefore, the various aspects of the plot in Surviving Demon Island don't really come together all that well. Nonetheless, the main characters are really fun to read about and they generate intense red hot sexual chemistry. Put me on the Jaci Burton rollercoaster ride for now - I'm most intrigued to figure out where she will take me from here.
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