Oh, how I’ve missed Stacia Kane and her Downside series. I’ve missed Terrible and Chess. I’ve looked endlessly for news of a release date for Unholy Luck, which has been in the works for what seems like forever. I follow this author on Facebook and do a little happy dance every time I see a new post. So far there hasn’t been any real news except for “I’m working on it”, but I did discover that Made for Sin was set to be released in August. Let’s be honest…. I pretty much hit the request button on this book because of the author. I might have also been in that anything by her is better than nothing frame of mind. Which is why this book worked for me in some ways, and didn’t in others. My expectations might have been a little too high, which is all on me.
Blurb from GR:
A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.
But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.
Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.
The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.
With the same dark, foreboding feel as the Downside Ghosts series, I was drawn immediately into this world. Mafia style families able to use magic and the occult set in Las Vegas? Yes, please. As soon as E.L. Speare walked onto the page I was intrigued. Was he the good guy or the bad guy? Maybe a little of both? One of the reasons I enjoy reading this author is because she can get me to fall in love with deeply damaged characters who I would normally dislike. I think Speare fits that description. He’s deeply entrenched in the Las Vegas crime world and must commit sins daily in order to appease the demon inside him. And he does sin, he also doesn’t ever pretend to be the good guy. He steals, he has anonymous sex, and he commits murder. On the other hand, he feels tremendous guilt and remorse over all the things he’s done over the years. In fact he keeps track of them by marking himself in order to ask for forgiveness for each and every sin he’s ever committed so he won’t forget even one if he’s ever given the chance at redemption.
Ardeth Coyle is his partner during the investigation and I liked her. She’s nobody’s fool. Strong, skilled and willing to stand by Speare even when the truth of his situation manifests itself in scary and threatening ways. She also straddles the good guy/bad guy line. Which means she and Speare are pretty much the perfect couple. And they do have a romance, a tenuous one that can’t really go anywhere at the moment due to Speare’s internal demon, but there IS a romance in this book. I think it takes a backseat to the main plot and action scenes, but it’s there.
I think my frustration is that this book is not a stand-a-lone, but rather the beginning of what is clearly supposed to be a story told over several books. There’s the world building set-up, a budding romance that is left hanging at the end and clues to what might possibly be an ongoing story arc and I guess I wanted just a little more finality. I wanted a clearer ending. I think I went into this book hoping that is was more of a clear-cut UF romance and that’s not really what this is. It’s an urban fantasy with a dash of romance thrown in to spice things up and make them more interesting. Kind of like the Downside series until Chess and Terrible’s relationship took over everything and fans fell in love with them as a couple despite their obvious faults and vulnerabilities. I’ve searched for any clues on whether this will be series and haven’t found any yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I think this would be another cracky series by this author and would really love to read a second book to see where she goes with these characters. Final Grade-C
Vegas was the world’s most beautiful showgirl, dressed in the wealth of a thousand admirers, dancing for all she was worth in a diamond spotlight on a dark stage. Hard and confident on the outside, but filled with sadness and desperation underneath. And he loved her, and loved that about her.