Breathless

Getting Lucky

Midnight Fantasies

Midnight Kisses

A Stranger's Kiss

 
A Stranger’s Desire by Kimberly Raye
(LoveSpell, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52504-6
***
A Stranger’s Desire has a funky, dark twist on the “genie” romance plot. The hero is an incubus, who has sex with women in order to steal their souls. So what happens when an incubus falls in love with one of his victims?

Sophie Alexander is desperate to find a treatment for her beloved adopted daughter, Kara. Sophie is this close to discovering a cure for the child’s cancer, which now seems to be in remission. Impulsively, she lights a few candles one night and repeats an incantation she heard in a movie. To her shock, the Devil appears. Sophie offers her soul in return for the final ingredient to the formula that will cure Kara for good.

The Devil now must call on Cain, the incubus. Cain is a Viking warrior whose bloody past and constant need for sex landed him in the lap of the Devil (figuratively speaking, of course). When the story opens, we meet Cain as he’s preparing to do the deed with a bored, lonely housewife. Her plea to “take me!” is all he needs, and one more soul is in the Devil’s hands.

The Devil orders Cain to seduce Sophie. Seems that her offer to trade her soul isn’t quite enough - the formula she’s about to find will bring immortality, and the Devil wants it. Cain will hang around Sophie until she uncovers the final ingredient, then steal the formula and Sophie’s soul for good measure.

But Cain can’t bring himself to do this, not once he’s gotten a look at Sophie. She stirs him in a way he can’t remember, and the little girl is precious. Cain holds off on the sex, hoping to find a way out of this dilemma. Meanwhile, Sophie’s dreams are getting erotic, and the handsome stranger is raising her temperature to a fever pitch.

Cain makes no bones about his past and his role, and Sophie accepts it for what it appears to be. She has some help in an angel who wants to beat the Devil at his own game. But the Devil has a few tricks up his sleeve, and soon Sophie’s life is in danger.

The plot was inventive, the little girl sweet without being cloying, the angel a nifty twist. So what’s not to like? Well, in this case, it was Cain. A thousand years of sex with women to numerous to recall? Sorry, I had him branded Male Slut before the first chapter ended. And then there’s the idea that he’s bedded all these women, etc. and never fallen in love with any of them? Frankly, Sophie with her sick child didn’t seem all that lust-inducing, or anything unique enough to make Cain look twice. The old “I’ve never felt this way before” just didn’t work here. The question of why? was never really answered.

I got a kick out of Angela, the angel who is more than willing to tangle with the Devil. She drifts in and out of the story, dispensing a bit of kick-butt at the end. And the resolution is a bit more complex than readers may be expecting. However, the sexual aspect of the story may be considerably less than readers are expecting. Heavy petting, maybe, but nothing more until almost the end of the story.

A Stranger’s Desire deserves full marks for attempting something a bit more offbeat than a traditional genie tale. Of you don’t mind a hero who’s been around the block a few thousand times, you may find it to be a real treat.

--Cathy Sova


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