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.
The barker handed the fire-eater two more torches, one for each hand, and this time, he danced with them first, drawing patterns in the air, undulating his body in a sinuous wave, keeping his back to the audience.
Then he twirled, flame flowing around him like a living scarf, and stopped in profile.
That nose, those cheekbones. His hair might be longer and the wrong color, but it’s him. Hashim.
Heat burned through Smith’s belly, chest, and throat as though he’d been the one swallowing flames, anger and hurt and resentment building at the sight of the man who’d betrayed him. The man he’d trusted enough to whisper his true name.
The man who’d left him.
Hashim continued his dance, his performance, his act. Yeah, he was good at acting. He’d had Smith fooled, hadn’t he? Poor beleaguered Hashim, forced against his will into the Consort Race, the competition for the hand of Prince Reyner of Faerie. Smith had comforted him as he would any distressed client, because hells, it was his fucking job, wasn’t it?
But with Hashim nestled in his arms, Smith’s impersonal pats had turned into way personal strokes, the buried fire in Hashim’s body lighting Smith up in a way he’d never experienced with any other lover. Usually he avoided any but the most necessary skin-to-skin contact—and forget kissing—because hookups with any partner who didn’t have a core of fire were too dangerous for the other guy.
With Hashim he hadn’t had to worry about that.
Like all fire-based races, if Smith’s inner flame died, he would too. His human genes prevented him from recharging it himself, but his body needed it, craved it, demanded it. And Hashim’s fire, the warmth of his skin, the heat of his mouth, the molten perfection of his spend, had filled the missing piece of Smith’s demon nature.
That night, for the first time, he’d been whole.
So like an idiot, he’d let himself hope, and fallen head over horns for a Pure.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Smith was supposed to be the smart one. The problem-solver. The go-to guy. He wasn’t supposed to sleep with a client, for Lucifer’s sake, no matter how incendiary their chemistry.
And now here he was, just as mesmerized by Hashim as he’d been six months ago when they’d spent the best night of Smith’s centuries-old life together.
Only to have Hashim betray him in the worst possible way for a demon, then abandon him without another word.
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4.25 out of 5 stars
Devouring Flame by E.J. Russell centers around indentured ifrit Hashim, who has been forced to work for The Ringmaster in a seedy carnival show located on the Interstices section that coincides with Las Vegas. When the event planners for supernaturals, Enchanted Occasions, decide to use this locale for the North American vampire convention and their even rarer Centennial Feast, Hashim is forced into proximity with Smith, the half-demon he inadvertently betrayed. Like most things in Vegas, there is a story behind the heat and glitter, and it will take luck and ingenuity to get past the house odds and hit the jackpot, if he can survive long enough to take the chance.
This gay paranormal/fantasy romance is part of the ‘Dreamspun Beyond’ series and is the sequel to “Nudging Fate.” I am fascinated by the wonderful world-building this author does, as familiar tropes are twisted just enough to provide freshness and thought-provoking stories. Not only are many of the secondary characters just as intriguing as the leads, but the reader is effortlessly drawn into their stories and invested in their struggles.
I love the way we are reminded that bigotry comes in all forms and requires a determined effort to resist, that appearances can be deceiving (when has anyone bothered to put a Minotaur in a good light?), and the delightful way we are invited to laugh at inside jokes (of course Vegas would have the majority of American vampires living there…it IS the city that never sleeps!). The contrasts between conventional lore and these folks is a never-ending source of entertainment and I can’t wait to see what other stories flower from this author’s fertile and impressive imagination.
A copy of this title was provided for review