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Friday, April 3, 2020

Book Review: Roman (Demon Rising Book 1) by Hurri Cosmo

Roman (Demon Rising Book 1)
by Hurri Cosmo
February 19, 2020
274 pages
I belong to a Demon Lord. His name is Roman. He’s tall, strong, has long dark hair, a deep sexy voice and, let me tell you, absolutely f-ing gorgeous. Yep. I even wear his ring. Third finger, left hand.

Except – its’s not a wedding band. Far from it, actually. It simply means I’m his submissive.

Well – it doesn’t really mean that either, although I wish it did.

No. The ring’s function is only to give me “sight”. Being human, once I had it on, I could suddenly see Roman’s stupid lost legions; very nasty scary things that would as soon kill me as look at me. And because I wear the ring, guess what? It’s now my job to recapture all those creatures for him. Yay me, right?

At least I get to be close to Roman… sometimes.

But, to tell you the truth, I was tricked into putting this damn ring on by Cathy, some random woman I met at a park, who unfortunately likes Roman, too. A whole lot. She brazenly flirts with the demon every chance she gets and right in front of me, too. Crap, it pisses me off. In fact, she brags she was the one who found me, got the ring on me and then offered me up to Roman like I was a T-bone steak or something.

Well – honestly – that part’s okay.

However, there’s something else going on. Something big. Because there’s another gorgeous Demon Lord in our little earth realm and he will stop at nothing to capture Roman’s loose legions for himself. Not only that, seems he’s out to catch me, as well.

Huh. My name is Micah and things just got very interesting.

Micah was an average guy who lived in the city. He’d had some rough spots in his life but had pretty much found an equilibrium: a job, friends, a decent neighborhood.

Like every neighborhood, just about anywhere in the world, there’s always one place shrouded in urban legends.

Only Micah has a personal connection to the abandoned energy plant called Black Sands, it’s where his abusive brother met his demise when—according to friends—he tried to summon a demon.

Micah fears Black Sands but is also drawn to it, often picnicking in its shadow at a nearby park. The strange presence it radiates calls to him and he doesn’t know why until he finds himself wearing a ring, and under the control of the demon residing there.

Roman is a demon, who lost his legions after a destructive betrayal. When your strength in hell is based on the numbers in your legions, that can be a very bad thing. He’s managed to track them to the realm of earth and has set up shop in an old factory, close to the gateway opened to him. There he’s lured a few humans to wear a ring that’s able to capture the escaped scouters and bring them back to him.

It’s boring, it’s time consuming, and it’s redundant. Human-ring-illusions of grandeur and eventually the death of the human where Roman gets their soul.

The same grind every few years until Micah. For whatever reason, the rules just don’t apply to him.

Story Concept: B+
I’m a sucker for reluctant heroes falling for Alpha males and those Alpha males realizing they are not as in control as they think.

Demons can make that trope a lot of fun.

Here we have earth one of many realms where hell can reach and demons can enter. And while demons cause some general havoc for the most part they mind their own business. They seem to have no love lost to mortals and use them as tools.

The story concept of antihero exerting his power over a being he sees as lesser isn’t new, but it was presented in a way that was a lot of fun.

World-Building: C+
World Building is probably one of the hardest thing for any writer and while most of this story takes place on earth, there are details about hell and what goes on there that are never touched on or touched on briefly leaving blank spots or vague patches where Roman just exists. His disappearances to take care of demon business were prime spots where his world could have been tethered to the earth realm.

Generally, the reader knows earth, they don’t know the fantastical world that only exists in the writer’s mind. Without that rich foundation, the story has been left feeling unanchored and adrift.

Characters: B++
I liked both main characters, Roman and Micah. Their snarky banter, their chemistry, it was great. Both of them were extremely well rounded and very real to the touch.

Where I felt they faltered was in Micah’s constant internal dialog and the use of the word “crap” among a guy who obviously had no problem dropping an F bomb. It was almost as if his inner “Ward Cleaver” kept trying to escape.

Roman, for all his toughness, seemed too willing to back down or simply not step up to the plate.

While you’re normally not supposed to like the bad guys, my reasons for disliking them was the over the top almost petulant behavior. Then, in all their evil and “badness” they fizzle in the end. They didn’t strike fear in me or even worry, I just found them an annoying fly buzzing around my potato salad.

The surprise bad guy was easy to see from the very beginning, transparent, and rather boring. The fact the main characters didn’t see through this right away made me really question their powers of observation.

Secondary Characters: NA
There were few secondary characters but none had enough read time to mention.

Plot Execution: B-
I almost put this book down because of how slow it got going. The first couple of pages I was primed for something exciting to happen, then it began to drag, and drag some more. I get that there was supposed to be suspense being built between the moment Micah stumbles into his journey as a ring bearer, to the moment he meets Roman, but it felt more like meeting a word count rather than moving the story.

The background story, and what felt like important events were delivered in large batches of exposition that ripped me out of the heat of the moment and bombarded with information until I forgot what had been happening when it began. This was made worse by implementing dialog between characters acting in past perfect tense.

There were also past events that were left hanging with no real explanation as to why they were important and what part they played despite being presented in a way with a heavy insinuation that they played a big part in the ability for the story to unfold. Events that seemed to have set Micah, on his path to the present.

After Micah has his first encounter with Roman, things pick up until he goes out on his demon hunts. This was another place ripe for action instead it dragged. The writer a great job in making the demons as disturbing but interactions with them felt short, choppy, and incomplete. There was no real anticipation or worry and the repetitive trips out, one after the other, quickly became monotonous.

What saved this book was the brilliant chemistry between the two main character. Their dialog, their interactions left me wanting more about them, more time with them, and to see them actually build on one another.

There was no real relationship building. There wasn’t really even “insta-love”. They were just suddenly there, pushed into the same space where they wanted each other. I feel like this could have been so much more powerful especially with the obvious skill this writer exhibits in their ability to have characters play off of each other with realistic and powerful reactions.

Resolution: C-
The end of this story bothered me the most. Don’t worry, it has an absolutely happy ending, it’s just too happy I guess thanks to the spontaneous development of conscience by the mastermind behind the entire plot. While I have no problem with bad guys seeing the error of their ways, the ending came off with a cartoon like solution almost as bad as ripping the mask of the mystery monster.

Enthusiasm: A
The delivery of the characters channeled bursts of enjoyment the writer must have had putting this tale to print.

This writer has some serious skills that could develop into incredible multi-level storytelling abilities. I’d just like to see the stories more streamlined with an obvious direction and less wandering.

I will read more of these books, and more of the writer’s works.

Guest Reviewer: Valentine

About the Author:
Hi. My name is Hurri Cosmo. I live in Minnesota where I hold tight to the idea that here, where it's cold a good part of the year, I won't age as fast. Yep, I avoid the truth as much as I avoids mirrors. But one of the reasons I love writing is reality doesn't always offer up a "happily ever after" and being able to take control of that is a powerful lure. Being a happy ending junkie, writing just makes them easier to find. Oh, I doesn't mind "real life" and I do try to at least keep it in mind when I write my stories, but I truly love creating a wonderful couple, knowing they will fall in love and have their HEA. Every - single - time. And, of course, that is exactly the reason I love reading this genre, too. Give me a glass of red wine, some dark chocolate, and my computer, whether I am reading or writing, and I can entertain myself for hours. The fact I actually get paid to do it is Snickers bars on the frosting on the cake.