Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Emma Holly - 3 books in the Tale of the Demon World series

Comment: I had scheduled the first book in this series to be read this month. It's one of the books which have been in the pile the longest, since 2008 to be more precise. At that time, I was trying different authors who wrote romance with erotic elements and that's also when I started reading m/m and this author has some m/m/f, which I felt was a safer way for me to see if I would be interested in reading only m/m.

Since then, I have read several books by Emma Holly, including some I read before having the blog. I have mixed feelings about the author's work, and it's no surprise the ones I liked more had a little less erotic content than the others, which means, her being an erotic romance author, that says it all.

Nevertheless, I still had the following three books in the Tale of the Demon World series to read. I see now the series has 4 full length books and 3 novellas released in anthologies but I don't plan on reading what I'm missing. I will be very honest: I decided to read the first book for it fit a theme in a challenge I'm doing in one of my GR groups, and then, since reading that one was so quick - I skipped most of the plenty sex scenes! - I've decided to just read the others and get closure on this author.

This series is set in a fantasy reality where there are humans and another race which humans call "demons" but that actually have more similarities to other mythical beings. Either way, there are many differences between the two but also many common traits, which we get to see more or less as the plots develop. The setting is similar to an historical context (apparently based on Victorian society), with society rules and hierarchy but since this is fantasy, there are enough changes to make this sound unique enough as well.

Each story focuses on different protagonists but they all have some point in common so, although we don't have the previous characters taking up space from the current ones' protagonism, we are aware of them in the background making a sort of bridge between stories. I liked one story better than the others but overall, they read as average to me. 
The blurbs can be found on Goodreads or at the author's website.

The Demon's Daughter

In this first book, we meet hero inspector Adrian as he investigates a case and when things go wrong, heroine Roxanne finds him and helps him recover. They are in different classes but their connection is very strong and as they navigate the problems and challenges of being together, they risk it anyway. I found this book to be a little boring, actually, because the world building wasn't always easy to follow and I wasn't as convinced as I think the goal was, by how in love the characters were supposed to be. I also think the characters's emotional development could have been done better.

Prince of Ice

In the second book, we follow the lives of prince Corum and the servant Xishi as they become childhood friends and later on, Xishi becomes a servant of the prince, which is how they fall in love and discover they are mates. I liked this one the best, the characters seem to have more personality, better development, with that also comes a better involvement from their surroundings, the plot was interesting and I was curious to see when they would uncover some secrets. Of course, I'd dismiss the sex scenes but in this couple's case, those did seem to have more importance and even romance.

Demon's Fire

In the third book we have the story of prince Phandir, a recurrent character who hasn't had the best time. Now free, he is allowed to have a quiet life again and he is finally ready to become involved again. which is why he feels surprised he is attracted to two humans, Beth and Charles. These three seem to fall into a game of "should I" or "should I not" and who is more deserving or not to be with the prince but in the end, their relationship does have some balanced moments. I think the big problem was the sort of obstacles the author created for these three, mostly regarding the prince's emotional state - in terms of society their menage wasn't the issue - so I feel annoyed the author chose another way to make them "fight" for their relationship.

To summarize...
I found these books to be entertaining but now that my taste has evolved away from erotica, of course they don't appeal as much anymore. I could very easily avoid the sex scenes and not even the interesting elements of what it means for the "demons" to have mates and the whole physical aspects of that were unique enough to make me want to read the remaining stories. I think these are good stories for those who like the genre and the style, because the author also includes a lot of plot so these aren't just for the thrill of the erotic situations. However, thinking about these three books together, they end up being in the middle of the scale for me. 
Grade: 6/10

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