A Caryn Release Day Review: Devouring Flame by E.J. Russell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have been looking forward to this book since Smith was introduced in Nudging Fate, the first of the Enchanted Occasions series.  This book is not a stand alone, although the MC’s from the first book do not show up outside of brief remembrances in this one.  Smith was one of the most intriguing of the talented group of outcasts running the event planning business, and after his one night stand with the ifrit, I knew we would see him again.

The setting is a year after the faerie wedding in the first book, and Enchanted Occasions has survived, and even thrived a little bit.  But not so much that they can afford to turn down a request from the North American sector vampires to manage their Centennial Feast.  Unfortunately, the Centennial Feast can only be hosted in the Las Vegas Interstices, a place of continuous twilight and ambiguous morals.  Vegas has terrible memories for Smith, who had languished there for decades before he was hired by Enchanted Occasions.  But there was another reason Smith was apprehensive about Vegas…

Hashim is the ifrit who appeared at the Faerie Prince’s coronation with the dastardly plot cooked up by the Faerie Queen, which was foiled by the employees of Enchanted Occasions.  Instead of seducing and capturing the prince, Hashim ended up spending a glorious night with Smith, where they connected so completely that Smith told Hashim his true name – and for Smith, as a fire demon, the owner of his true name has incredible power over him.  Hashim left without giving his true name in return, which Smith could only regard as betrayal of the worst sort.  When Smith passed through Vegas and saw Hashim performing in a circus sideshow, all of the anger, sadness, and dread came back.  Hashim was the last person he wanted to see, and being forced to interact with him to arrange the Centennial Feast was agonizing.  In part because despite what he felt was Hashim’s treachery, Smith still wanted him, as the only other being he ever felt so complete with.

Hashim felt much the same about Smith, but his circumstances were much more dire than he was willing to admit.  His very nature was something Smith had never considered – remember that classic line from Disney’s Aladdin?  “PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER!  Itty bitty living space…”  Hashim had almost no control over his life, and his master, Ringmaster, was cruel and corrupt.  When Smith finally understood the situation, he decided to fix it, because he was the guy that got shit done.

There was definitely a darker twist to this book than there was to the first one, with themes of slavery and exploitation, and the victim’s response to them, probed from both sides.  It is always difficult for someone on the outside to understand how an abuse victim could ever think that their abuse is deserved, and both Hashim’s rationale and Smith’s response to it were well done.  And there was of course the usual humor and banter, provided primarily by the incredible case of secondary characters.  The goblin-berserker Chef was especially good, as were the vampires and all the jokes about them in this post-Twilight era.  And for those who wondered how Rion could possibly be so sweet and innocent, the answer was both surprising and absolutely adorbs.  That was one of my favorite parts of the book!  The search for and discovery of Hashim’s true name was disappointing though, and the primary reason I didn’t give the book 5 stars.  Still, I hope there will be more to come in this universe in the future!

Cover art by Aaron Anderson shows a great model for Smith, but I would have loved to see Hashim in there as well.

Sales Links:

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon: http://ejr.pub/devouring-flame-amz

Other: http://ejr.pub/devouring-flame-b2r

Publisher: http://ejr.pub/fb-devouring-flame

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Expected publication: January 8th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07JZ5WPR8

 

E.J. Russell on the second in their Enchanted Occasions series, Devouring Flame (guest post and giveaway)

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Devouring Flame by E.J. Russell

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy links:

Amazon: http://ejr.pub/devouring-flame-amz

Other: http://ejr.pub/devouring-flame-b2r

Publisher: http://ejr.pub/fb-devouring-flame

 

 

 

Thank you so much for helping me celebrate the release of Devouring Flame! At the end of the tour, I’ll be giving away a prize—a $25 Dreamspinner gift card plus one of my backlist titles—to one commenter (chosen at random across all the tour posts), so please be sure to join the conversation!

Devouring Flame is the second book in my series centered around the employees of Enchanted Occasions Event Planning, where the word “enchanted” is quite literally, er, literal. The EO staff are all outcast from their supernatural home realms, most of them because they’re aitchers (short for half-and-half), part human and part other, and discriminated against by Pures of all races. But they’ve found a community with their EO co-workers, and job satisfaction staging magical events for their clients.

Of course, sometimes those events get… complicated. 🙂

The Vampire Conundrum

Until last year, even though I’d written a dozen books—three quarters of them paranormal—I’d never written one involving vampires. Then, by an odd coincidence, I ended up writing two at the same time.

Each was from a different paranormal romantic comedy series: my November release, Vampire with Benefits, is book two in my Supernatural Selection trilogy, and my current release, Devouring Flame, is the second Enchanted Occasions story. And the way I ended up treating the vampire mythos in each book was vastly different.

For one thing, in Vampire With Benefits, one of the main characters is a vampire, involved in a fake marriage scheme with an inactive beaver shifter. In Devouring Flame, however, vampires are side characters—treated as a group rather than individually—and are more of an annoyance and impediment to our co-heroes than participants in a love story of their own.

Consequently, I got to develop the rules for two different vampire worlds, which was great fun. The Supernatural Selection books belong in what I call my paranormal romantic comedy genre, but Enchanted Occasions veers more toward the screwball than just rom-com. Consequently, the Vampire With Benefits world is a little more serious than the one in Devouring Flame.

In VWB, all the vampires, with the exception of two who were Turned in America, are from Eastern Europe, and their society is still more or less feudal.

In Devouring Flame, the vampires behave more like a global corporation, with an annual conference (which Enchanted Occasions Event Planning has been hired to present), including sensitivity training sessions, officer elections, and bylaws review.

One of the things I felt pretty strongly about was that I didn’t want there to be any danger of a vampire population explosion. I wanted both series to have a limitation on creating new vampires, a moratorium, so that the population remained fixed. However, the reasons for the moratorium vary between the series.

In SS, the moratorium was imposed by the fae and druids, in exchange for evacuating the vampires from Europe after World War I.

In EO, the moratorium was instigated in 2007 with the publication of Twilight, because, to quote Smith, one of the heroes in Devouring Flame:

“Too many moony teenagers with unrealistically romantic notions about what it means to be undead. All the vamps started freaking out. They might be bloodsucking, egomaniacal sociopaths, but they’re not pedophiles. At least that’s what their PR team claims.”

For amusement, the SS vampires conduct themselves like the aristocracy they once were, attending sophisticated cocktail parties dressed in impeccable evening wear. The EO vampires, on the other hand, like vast, noisy costume balls, in which they cosplay as themselves—that is, as any version of “vampire” portrayed in human film or literature.

Another difference: the SS vampires can only smell and taste viable food sources (in other words, people whose blood will be appetizing and nourishing for them). They can’t taste or smell anything else, which means there’s little point for them to try. I sort of sidestep the issue of whether or not they actually could if they wanted to.

The EO vampires on the other hand… For one day out of every century, because of a spell in certain Interstitial sites, they can consume human food again. It’s their Centennial Feast, and Enchanted Occasions is staging that as well.

Since they have only twenty-four hours to eat—before waiting another hundred years—the vampires have a really, really, really long list of menu requirements. Because, as Mikos, Enchanted Occasions’ owner, says in response to Smith’s question about what vampires eat:

“When they’re only able to eat once every hundred years? Everything they possibly can.”

So what about you? If you had to pick a once-in-a-century menu, what would be on it?

Devouring Flame

An Enchanted Occasions story

Reunited and reignited.

While cutting through the Interstices—the post-creation gap between realms—Smith, half-demon tech specialist for Enchanted Occasions Event Planning, spies the person he yearns for daily but dreads seeing again: the ifrit, Hashim of the Windrider clan.

On their one literally smoldering night together, Smith, stupidly besotted, revealed his true name—a demon’s greatest vulnerability. When Hashim didn’t return the favor, then split the next morning with no word? Message received, loud and clear: Thanks but no, thanks.

Although Hashim had burned to return Smith’s trust, it was impossible. The wizard who conjured him holds his true name in secret, and unless Hashim discovers it, he’ll never be free.

When their attraction sparks once more, the two unite to search for Hashim’s hidden name—which would be a hell of a lot easier if they didn’t have to contend with a convention full of food-crazed vampires on the one day out of the century they can consume something other than blood.

But if they fail, Hashim will be doomed to eternal slavery, and their reignited love will collapse in the ashes.

Luckily Smith is the guy who gets shit done. And Hashim is never afraid to heat things up.

About the Author

E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings. 

Reality? Eh, not so much.

E.J.’s paranormal romantic comedy, The Druid Next Door, was a 2018 RITA® finalist. She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).

E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Contact info:

Email: ejr@ejrussell.com

Website: http://ejrussell.com

Newsletter: http://ejrussell.com/newsletter

Facebook reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/reality.optional

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/ej_russell

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/e-j-russell

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ej_russell

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ej_russell_author

 

Giveaway

The author is offering a giveaway prize—a $25 Dreamspinner gift card plus one of their backlist titles—to one commenter (chosen at random across all the tour posts) at the end of the tour