Welcome back to the Book Club! Today we’re diving right back into the fantasy pool, but this time it’s with a little added twist. Is there some law against having inked up studs AND a rewarding story contained within the same book? It seems like our club has been a safe haven for authors who practice this far too uncommon style of writing, and it’s been a pleasure stamping out some prejudices in this genre. Will this week’s author keep us going in the right direction? Let’s find out as we dig our men straight out of hell and into the arms of our beloved readers. We’re brooding, misunderstood, and dammit, all we want is to feel something…join us.
Unchained Desire by R.C. Alvarez is book one in “The Rapture Series” exploring the depths of the supernatural romance genre. Kyria is introduced as an innocent young woman getting thrown into some deep shit whether she likes it or not. Family troubles, not unlike something you’d see in an episode of In Plain Sight, requires Kyria to take on more responsibility than she’s ready for. With her father sick and in trouble, there’s only one man she can turn to…and he’s got his own problems going for him. Unprepared and scared out of her mind, Kyria takes to the streets of Houston to find the man that might be able to help. Ramiel (or “Ram” as he’s eventually known) is by no means an ordinary dude. He’s a fallen angel who’s serving a long stint in hell (the actual hell, no metaphors here) and is currently on a brief reprieve as he needs blood to feed before he slips back “downstairs” to continue serving his sentence, with all the chains and tattoos to match. Naturally, at first there’s little motivation for Ramiel to help or even give a damn about Kyria when she first confronts him. But there’s something about her that’s got his attention, as well as the attention of a few demons from around town after she’s dismissed. After getting Kyria out of a demon laden jam, Ram clues her in on some hard truths. Kyria is just a girl trying to help her father and escape some baddies…but why did she just sprout wings?
Think of the average fantasy romance, and picture it in your mind. Got it? If you’re anything like me you’re probably picturing some cute girl coming of age that through weird happenstance meets a big hunk who for some reason is also a werewolf, or a vampire, or Satan himself. She’s a worthless mere mortal but for no adequately explored reason the supernatural dude feels the need to protect her because she’s neurotic or whatever. *washes mouth out with soap* I hope to put your mind at ease here when I say Unchained Desire doesn’t use any of these tired tropes when delving into the mechanics of this genre. While Kyria starts out as an innocent girl in WAY over her head, the sudden discovery of her supernatural abilities gives this story an extra layer of charm. When the female lead doesn’t need to be physically dependent on the male lead’s weird powers, the action and romance factors can branch off in pretty much any direction. More importantly, the reader isn’t going to be spoiling themselves by thinking they have the plot figured out one third of the way through. The reader can simply sit back and enjoy the ride. This ride, mind you, is quite interesting.
Eventually Kyria comes to realize that her life is far and beyond more strange than anything she was compelled to accept when she was a child. Coming to grips with the world around her, the cast of characters and situations met in said world are unique, interesting, and crazy enough to keep the reader invested and the pages turning. Kyria and Ram’s relationship escalates in a relatable way…as relatable as wing sprouting demons and blood drinkers can be anyway. Romance is to be had here, not just physical carnal expression. Despite the crazy blood curdling shit taking place, the romantic elements keep the story grounded in such a way that yields a sensible and rewarding balance. Besides, if I was sentenced to unspeakable torture in the literal version of hell, some hardcore shameless sex wouldn’t be the first thing on my mind either.
Verdict: Unchained Desire by R.C. Alvarez is a spine tingling paranormal romantic drama that keeps equal parts story and human feeling in the balance for a rewarding final product. I appreciate the novel going for the “full fantasy” over the more tired supers/mortals power struggle in this genre. A simmering romance with plenty of heart along with a brutal, exciting layer of paranormal drama…what’s not to like? So long as you don’t need your fantasy warm and fuzzy for the duration, this is indeed a great world to get lost in. Like I’ve been saying for years, the pathway to hell begins in Houston.
Special Thanks to R.C. Alvarez for providing an advanced copy of Unchained Desire to TehBen.com for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Author’s Twitter: @R_C_Alvarez
Purchase/Pre-Order Unchained Desire: Amazon