Read my reviews of previous books in the Monsters & Mayhem series:

Lightning Born by Sam Burns | In Darkness and Dank by K.L. Hiers

This story begins from Ari’s perspective, in which he is living the opposites-attract trope of a typical contemporary romance. A quick glimpse into Theo’s point of view shows that we’re in for a much more complicated story, giving just enough of the fantasy element to intrigue but not spoil. That knowledge heightens everything that then comes when we’re back to Ari, giving even the sexy bits an edge of tension (beyond the consensual kink) when we don’t know how “involved” Theo’s supernatural patron is with his daily existence.

Not having all the details makes the delicate push and pull between Ari’s deepening emotional connection with Theo and the growing mystery keep this story on the perfect edge of compelling. As Ari grows closer to Theo, Mayne seeds more tantalizing clues regarding the paranormal aspect. But are we dealing with an old-school haunting or a more sinister eldritch horror? Or possibly both? Ari is unprepared for the truth no matter what, but I was already so invested in the honest love that had developed between these men that I loved the subtle plot twists and turns when Ari’s modern sensibilities clashed with Theo’s fantastical reality. Keeping this story primarily from Ari’s perspective does a lot of the heavy lifting to keep the important story reveals natural. However, though it ran the risk of feeling unbalanced, I appreciated each snippet from Theo’s perspective that Mayne used to craft excellent character development that was darkly romantic.

It’s not often that a story reshapes how I view an entire subgenre, but Mayne presents a story that examines a direct intersection between romance and horror. We’re culturally conditioned by the horror genre to expect tragedy (i.e., punishment) to befall characters who make deals with the devil. When Ari makes the choice that allows him to stay with Theo, I dreaded the dark moment that would result because there had to be some sort of catch. The genuine happily ever after that occurs despite the choice marks this story as a true dark romance.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars
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