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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review and excerpt: Damned if He Does by Marcella Burnard

Damned if He Does
by Marcella Burnard
333 pages
July 19, 2016
Light Paranormal Romance
Rejected by heaven, twisted by hell, what’s a damned dead man to do when he stumbles upon a life and love worth fighting for?

Though damned for his earthly sins, Darsorin Incarri likes being an incubus. Prowling women’s dreams to siphon off their sexual energy for Satan's consumption has its perks: an array of infernal power and a modicum of freedom. Sure, Ole Scratch holds Dar’s soul in thrall, and Dar has to spend a few hours recharging in Hell every day, but it could be much worse. All he has to do is hold up his end of his damnation contract – five women seduced, satisfied and siphoned per night for eternity. So when he encounters gorgeous, bright, and funny Fiona Renee, it’s business as usual. Deploy the infernal charm and rack up another score. Except it doesn’t work. She’s immune. He has to find out what’s gone wrong or face Lucifer's wrath.

Fiona Renee has the life she’d always wanted: a career, a home, a cat with a bad attitude, and peace. Fiona’s dated. Had boyfriends. And hated every minute of it. She’s reconciled to being lonely. So when a man shows up in her bedroom in the middle of the night demanding to know why her dreams turn to nightmares every time he tries to seduce her from within them, Fiona winds up negotiating a contract with a demon that allows him access to her life. She never anticipated that it would also give him access to her heart. If she's going to fall in love at all, something she never thought would happen, shouldn’t it be with someone who’s alive? If Fiona wants to hang on to Darsorin, she has to find his true name—the one he’d been given at his birth over a thousand years ago. But Satan, himself, stands in her way. Even if Fiona can dodge Lucifer, she and Darsorin have to face the question neither of them can answer: What happens to a dead man if you manage to wrest his soul from the Devil?

Damned for his philandering ways while alive, Darsorin Incari is slated to live out his afterlife collecting sexual energy from human women as the devil’s favoured incubus. Darsorin is an exceptional satanic employee and has always reliably delivered his quote of vialed sex mojo to the devil. But when Dar falls for asexual pharmacist Fiona Renee, his job and his very livelihood are in jeopardy. 

The concept for this book was a little curious for a paranormal romance. But, I commend Burnard for trying something new and instead of generating interest with steamy sex scenes, she goes for the unconventional. I applaud the voice she’s given to asexual readers and appreciate this element of risk.

As a paranormal romance, Damned if He Does wasn’t for me. I failed to identify with Fiona. While she’s strong and smart and resourceful, she’s not a female character who resonates with me personally. The book is fairly imaginative and creatively descriptive. I particularly enjoyed the character of Louis Sieffer (Lucifer) as an STD-ridden, slick CEO type. Though, I’m just not sure why the almighty Prince of Darkness isn’t immune to herpes etc. Dar and Fiona’s romance is touching; slow to evolve and sweet. In the end, though, I think I prefer my paranormal romance to take a more traditional (sexy) approach. 

So, recognizing its merits and the effort of the author to diverge from the generic beaten path, Damned if He Does was an average read. If you like a little romance, more on the tender, chaste side, you may appreciate this book more than me.

3 ½ sheep

Bianca Greenwood

Fiona jogged her warm-up distance, then pushed her pace hard, something to work the tension of remembered fear from her muscles. Savoring the song of blood surging with the rhythm of her heartbeat, she settled in, stretching her gait, reaching for the moments between one footfall and another, the moments when she flew, not connected to the ground. Sweat beaded her skin. Trickled down her spine.

She’d made her halfway mark, the end of the Burke-Gilman trail at the Lockspot CafĂ©, before she caught sight of the motorcycle and the familiar, dark-haired–even if that hair was now cut short–man lounging in the saddle, arms crossed. Ogling her.

He’d invaded her pharmacy, her dreams, her bedroom, and now her run? After turning her cat into a foul-tempered traitor? She stopped short, squaring off on him over the handle bars of the bike. “What did you do to my cat?”

Darsorin shook his head. “Nothing!”

“Nothing,” she repeated, crossing her arms, her brows low. “That’s why he howled all night? That’s why you have your shoulders hunched up around your ears like you expect me to take a swing at you?”

“Are you going to?”

“Give me reason,” she gritted.

“Nope,” he said, holding up his hands in surrender. “Sorry about the cat. I’d been bribing him.”

Alarm jolted her upright.


“Mice?” she sputtered. “You’ve been releasing rodents into my duplex? Are you insane?”

“I asked him not to leave presents on your pillow.”

She uttered a sound that came out half way between a snort and a guffaw. “Do you know how impossible it is to get blood spots out of beige carpet? Not to mention how cruel it is to hand over some poor, innocent . . .”

“They aren’t,” he interrupted.


“The mice. They aren’t innocent.”

She gaped.

“Part of the deal,” he said. “I can’t go into specifics, but we’re not allowed to persecute the innocent. Only the damned.”

Frowning, she backed away a step. “The mice?”

“Damned souls that I turned into mice. They’d been cruel to animals in life.” He shrugged. “Ole Scratch never passes up a punishment opportunity, and I needed a species appropriate way to bring Archimedes around to my way of thinking.”

His use of Archimedes’s name washed some of the tension out of her. She took a deep breath and uncrossed her arms. “That is messed up.”

“I am sorry about the blood stains,” he said. “Give me a chance. I’ll help get them out.”

“No. I don’t even want to know how Hell goes about remedying bloody carpet stains,” she said.

About the Author:
I blame my father for my love of science fiction and fantasy. We watched many a late night science fiction movie together. I was five. By the time I was six, I was having raging nightmares inspired by The Omega Man, The Fly, and The Incredible Shrinking Man. The sum result seems to have been that I wouldn't walk into a dark room until well after I'd turned ten.

Growing up an Air Force brat, I moved often and traveled all over the US. We spent two years in Iceland, watching blue whales migrate, volcanoes erupt and geysers spew steaming, superheated water into the cold air. The whole family did plenty of reading. When the tiny base library ran out of interesting books in the kids' section, and wouldn't allow me in the adult section yet, I began writing my own stories.

My family finally settled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Western Washington. I graduated with a BFA in acting from Cornish College of the Arts in 1990 and promptly went to work for a large software company.

I live with my husband and our cats aboard a sailboat on Puget Sound.

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