Devil’s Gate by Thea Harrison
(Elder Races, #4.6)
In Six Words: Perhaps the best ER novella yet.
1. Dragon Bound
2. Storm’s Heart
3. Serpent’s Kiss
3.5. True Colors (Joint Review @ Ruby’s Reads)
4. Oracle’s Moon
4.5. Natural Evil (Joint Review @ Ruby’s Reads)
4.6. Devil’s Gate
4.7. Hunting Season (September 18th)
5. Lord’s Fall (November 6th)
As a coroner, medusa Seremela Telemar has always felt more comfortable chatting over a dead body than over drinks. But when her wild niece, Vetta, runs off to Devil’s Gate, a lawless town that has sprung up overnight in a modern-day gold rush, she knows she has to extricate her before the rebellious girl gets into real trouble. Though she’s confident in her head snakes’ ability to defend her against attackers, Seremela is still a bit nervous about braving this modern-day Wild West by herself.
Vampyre Duncan Turner is not about to let his new co-worker go into that chaos alone. His Vampyric power and lawyer smarts make him the perfect ally, and the fact that he already had his eye on Seremela for more…personal reasons, doesn’t hurt matters. Any romantic thoughts pull up short, however, when they arrive at Devil’s Gate and learn Vetta is set to hang by morning.
In order to save Vetta and themselves, Seremela and Duncan are going to have to fight fire with force and magic with fangs. And pray they make it out of Devil’s Gate alive.
Warning: Contains mother effin’ snakes in planes, cars, tents, and beds. Luckily, our hot Vampyre hero doesn’t mind them one bit…
Why I Started Reading This Book and Final Verdict
It is NO SECRET that Thea Harrison is one of my favorite authors, and her books are an auto-buy for me. So it doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that I bought this book and read it. Or that I really liked it. Or that I can’t wait until this fall when the next books come out in the Elder Races series.
Ruby: I loved Seremela, and Duncan (especially his voice *swoon*), but I was never really able to get over the snakes-as-hair thing. I realize that makes me shallow, but I couldn’t stop picturing the snakes emerging from her scalp. *Shudder* I tried really hard, because I liked the idea of Seremela’s snakes being an extension of her personality–specifically the way they expressed what she was suppressing. Also, they added plenty of humor. I loved the bits where they reached for Duncan or held on to him.
Amanda: I adored Seremela’s snakes! I thought of the snakes as dreadlocks, and I believe they were described that way as well. And, she’s a Medusa. I don’t think you can have a Medusa without snakes.
Ruby: I agree that you can’t have a Medusa without the snakes. All I’m saying is that the snakes for hair concept squicked me out. I guess I’m just thankful there isn’t a mythological character crawling with spiders. Thea Harrison is fawesome, but there are limits even to her powers. *shudders*
Amanda: *imagines what a black widow spider Wyr would be like*
Ruby: *gags* Thea Harrison never fails to make me fully believe in the attraction for her two leads, even in her novellas. She establishes attraction almost as thoroughly as emotional connections. But…Duncan and Seremela’s declarations of love was too fast for me. Bizarrely, I think the ending would have brought me greater satisfaction if they hadn’t said it.
Amanda: The beginning of the novella made it pretty clear that Seremela and Duncan had an established burgeoning friendship (and secret attraction), so I felt like we were jumping into their story after it had already begun. In that sense, they had already had time to build a foundation for a relationship. I wasn’t bothered by their declarations at all. I think it fit with the sweetness of their romance.
Ruby: I loved the way that Duncan and Seremela’s relationship had already begun prior to the novella. In fact, my heart gave a giddy little leap when Duncan showed up at Seremela’s door. I was as excited as she was, and I thought it was the perfect way circumvent the forced romance of some novellas. And I’m not saying that I didn’t buy the romance–I totally did–it was the declarations that came a little too soon for me.
Amanda: Is it too soon in our relationship for me to declare my love for you, Ruby?
Ruby: Ah, no. I’d say it’s overdue, actually! Of the three Elder Races novellas, I think this was my least favorite. It’s still good, but it fell a bit short for me, in length, romance and plot.
Amanda: Natural Evil was my least favorite. I loved this one. Lurved, if we must get technical. Of course, I read this on a weekend when I had read two novellas before this one. I think when you read a lot of novellas, it’s easier to judge them on their merits rather than expecting them to be a full length book. There’s a lot to pack into a limited number of words. It requires reorienting your expectations, I think. Which is much much easier to do on a novella weekend.
Ruby: Hmm, that’s an interesting point. I don’t read a lot of novellas, really only the ones by authors I already love. I liked the story better in Natural Evil, but the romantic pairing in Devil’s Gate.
Amanda: I am fast discovering that novellas are a whole different ball game.
Ruby: Vetta’s retrieval made the whole thing seem more like a deleted scene from one of the full-length novels rather than its own story. Or a vehicle to introduce Malphas. I actually blinked when it was resolved so quickly.
Amanda: It does get resolved pretty quickly, but it only made me pause because there was still a bit of the novella to go (and we hadn’t gotten to the sexin’ part, either, and the sexin’ part is important). It seemed like going to get Vetta was more of a way to throw Seremela and Duncan together for an extended period of time, which it does. Oh, and to reintroduce the tarot cards, which first made their appearance in Natural Evil.
I loved that the tarot cards showed up! I think it would be awesome if they were the connecting factor in the novellas. It adds an episodic element that ties everything together. They made me get ridiculously excited to see where they pop up next (aka, in the next novella?).
Ruby: Another shoe does drop, but it’s not much of one. Another thing that irritated me was the way that Seremela’s relationship with her sister (and Vetta’s recklessness and lack of appreciation for what was done for her) was never properly resolved. Why did she spend so much time setting the relationships up that way if she wasn’t going to follow through on them? Are they going to appear in another story?
Amanda: At that point in time in the story, I was ready for some sexin’. I didn’t really care what happened with Vetta or Seremela’s sister. That kind of experience would be enough to set Vetta straight, I suppose. Like I said, I wasn’t really paying attention to any of that, because I was focused on Seremela and Duncan gettin’ it on.
Ruby: Clearly there is something wrong with me, then.
Amanda: Less thinking, more sexin’. That’s my advice.
Ruby: I enjoyed the details about Rune and Carling. I love it when authors keep in touch with characters that have already gotten their HEA. And I eventually remembered that I’d seen the characters before, but it took a bit to refresh my memory. Was it that way for you?
Amanda: *shrugs* I just rolled with it. I knew that Seremela had made an appearance before (though I didn’t remember much of her) and while I didn’t remember Duncan, I figured we had been introduced to him at one point in time, so I didn’t bother trying to pull any of those facts out. I just read. For the sexin’. And… other stuff. *attempts to look innocent*
Ruby: Gah! I didn’t roll with things at all. I picked everything apart, which is what happens to me when I review an author I admire as much as I do Thea Harrison. Next time, I’m going to sit back and read for the sexin’, too.
Amanda: Wise decision, my friend.