Reviewed by May
“Welcome back to London, Hellraisers,” Bram said. “You’re just in time for the end of the world.”
When Bram speaks these words, he isn’t kidding. The five friends known as the Hellraisers unleashed the devil himself upon the world so that they could indulge in their vices and enjoy life. The problem, of course, is that the price is not what it seemed and the world as they know it will end. With two of his friends already turned against the devil with their souls regained, one dead, and another fully involved with the devil, Bram is the only one left who is undecided in his future.
Will he follow John deeper into the darkness? Or battle against it?
This is the third book in Zoe Archer’s Hellraiser trilogy, a dark story that takes place in 1763 England. There are magical/paranormal elements to be sure, and the action and romance elements are nicely balanced and well done. Her leading characters aren’t your typical heroes. No, they got themselves into this world ending mess, it is all their fault in fact. They aren’t perfect, they have serious flaws, and for me that is what really makes this series special. While I would recommend starting at the beginning, I believe if you read up just a bit on the previous two novels so that you have some background you could start here as well. While there is obviously a strong story arc that spans the trilogy, each also has a very distinct story and focus as well.
“Is my presence such an inconvenience to your debauchery? Are you too concerned that I’ll disrupt your pursuit of quim? Distract your cock just as it’s about to spend?” She sneered. “Poor Bram. All he wants is to fuck himself into oblivion, but the fate of millions of souls keeps intruding. What a nuisance.”
His face twisted with cold rage. “Quiet.”
“I’ve never been quiet,” she snapped. “Not in life, and most assuredly not in death. And I vow to you, vow, that someday I’ll make you pay.”
Livia is a ghost. Or rather, she is someone without a body at the moment. She’s not just any someone either. Once a very powerful priestess she locked the devil up once, and she’s been trying to help the Hellraisers do it again. Unfortunately for her she’s somehow become bound to Bram, and her magic has become intertwined with him in unexpected and inconvenient ways.
It was at this point that I wasn’t sure if I could like this book, let alone read it. I do not enjoy ghost stories, most certainly not ghosts as the lead. How could this author possibly make this work? In the end, curiosity for what would happen with the Hellraisers prevailed and I read on. What I found, was an incredibly well done romance between two villains, two selfish individuals interested only in their own pleasure.
Actually Livia, having seen the error of her ways is committed to saving the world and has been trying to do so as best as she can. She knows if Bram helps her they have a small chance, but without him all is lost.
“This cause deserves a better champion than me.”
“Perhaps it does.” She felt a flare of exultation as he whirled to glare at her. He wasn’t immune from pride, and she needed that. A humble man made for a poor warrior. “But you are all we have.”
When this book starts, Bram is telling a woman to bend over and lift her skirts, and using his (devil gifted) power of persuasion to make her do so. He uses his gift to get women, even very faithful women, to have sex with him. To say he is beyond rake, beyond bad boy is an understatement. But is there more to him? Is he someone that has a reason to fight back? Is there a soul worth saving there?
Livia gets to see right inside the heart of him, to Bram’s deepest secrets and darkest memories. You see the binding that happened between them against their will, it has made it so they each are able to see and remember the other one’s past. I loved this aspect of the story as this was an unlikely pair who would not under any normal circumstance be sitting around sharing their darkest moments. It both deepened my understanding of the characters, and made the incredibly unlikable pair ones I couldn’t stop rooting for in both love and success in their mission.
I really have to give credit to Archer for making this couple not just work, but bring everything about the trilogy together in a most excellent conclusion. Her writing really is supurb, and she always has the best lines, scenes, and details that have me thinking of her stories long after I’ve finished the book.
“I thought I was finished with firsts, that I’d done everything and all things. Yet it turns out that there are still unknowns for me. A woman I want for herself.”
I must mention that there is an incredibly hot scene where Bram and Livia (since they can’t touch each other in the beginning) tell each other what they would do if they could get physical on the bed. It was one of the best sex scenes I’ve read in a very long time – and they didn’t ever touch each other. It just reminded me that what Archer does so well is to combine a historical backdrop with incredibly strong, capable, smart heroines and find a balance between action, sex, and romance. Not only does she make me love a character that previously annoyed me, but she tells an incredibly compelling tale of redemption and hope. An incredibly uplifting love story in the darkest of hours.
When I sat down to write this review I was leaning towards a B grade for this book, but as I write, as I remember so many details and scenes and lines that were amazing, I don’t think I can give it any less than an A grade. In fact, I would love nothing more than to continue explaining what was so great about this book but I do not wish to share spoilers! I can’t say it enough – this was a great finale to this trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what adventure the author will take us on next.