Dell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-440-24336-6
Fantasy Romantic Suspense, 2007
Hunting the Demon can be read as a standalone book but it gives away huge plot developments that took place in the previous book, Surviving Demon Island. Therefore, if you are new to Jaci Burton’s Demon Hunters series, perhaps you may want to start with that book first before you read this one.
The story has many elements that are carried forward from Surviving Demon Island. Now, the good guys have formed the Realm of the Light to battle the demons called the Sons of Darkness that are planning to take over the world. In this book, the Keepers of the Light find themselves trying to save the soul of Dominic “Nic” Diavolo from the Sons of Darkness. It also happens that Nic is the long-lost now-found brother of the hero of the previous book, which should add some layer of poignancy to the story but unfortunately doesn’t. I’ll get into that later.
Our heroine is Shay Pearson, a psychic Keeper who bonds with Nic when she is charged to act as a bait to flirt with and lure surfer-boy Nic from his Sydney beach hangout into the clutches of the Keepers. For those two, the emotions they feel for each other are real and go beyond Shay’s initial pretense, so everything would have been beautiful were not for those blasted Sons of Darkness who will not Nic slip away so easily, you see. Unlike other paranormal romances where the heroine is the Key to Salvation of All That Is Good, Holy, Pure, and Beautiful, Nic here is the key. The key! The key to what, you ask? Let’s just say that he’s meant to be the new king of demons if the Sons of Darkness have their way, so poor Nic is going to find himself in the middle of a tug-of-war for his soul.
Unfortunately, I don’t really buy into this story. It feels false somehow. This is due to the fact that the Keepers, especially Shay, are already convincing themselves that Nic is a good guy right after they lay eyes on him. Shay starts out what seems like a smart woman but she soon mutates into a disappointingly bird-brained heroine who right from the go insists that she can “feel” that Nic is not evil. When they are heavy petting, I bet she can “feel” Nic alright, but I don’t think it is his moral fortitude that she has in her hand. Then there is her constant feeling of guilt for having lied to Nic to get him into the Keepers’ clutches. Even the author knows that is silly, as she has Shay remarking on how absurd it is to feel such guilt since Shay is doing all this for the good of mankind, but Shay keeps doing it nonetheless. Nic isn’t a stupid person. Eventually he has Shay completely humiliated by her trust in him when he’s shagged her and left her all tied up while he flees like a sane man would.
This paragraph, I feel, illustrates perfectly the bird-brained condition of our heroine. She’s always like this. It’s on page 198, at about the halfway point of the story, so there’s not exactly much room for improvement for our heroine here.
Dammit. How could she think about being angry when his words evoked memories of the two of them moving together, his mouth on hers, his skin against her skin… oh, God, she was losing it. She hated him. She had to remember that she hated him.
To me, a heroine who lets her lust override her common sense is never a good thing to come across in my books.
But Shay isn’t only the gullible fool who is a sucker for Nic’s good looks. The rest of the Keepers are very free with information about the operation of their demon-busting spook squad that I can only cringe at what will happen should Nic turns out to be the anti-Christ and uses their gullibility to smite them all to dust.
Hunting the Demon is a readable story but the fact that the entire premise hinges on the good guys’ unrealistic trust in and acceptance of the hero makes this a hard sell where I am concerned. It does seem as if Ms Burton wants to use the other characters in this book to let me know that Nic is unquestionably the good guy but ends up jumping the gun too soon by having these characters trust Nic so soon when they have no good reason to. This story is in trouble when the good guys manage to win only because Nic is a good guy. Nic could have easily taken them for a ride and string them up to die. After how bird-brained the Keepers are in this book, I don’t know if I won’t find that alternative ending more enjoyable.