I stumbled across Demon’s Delight (by MaryJanice Davidson, Emma Holly, Vickie Taylor, and Catherine Spangler) on a trip to Barnes and Nobles to get some serious science fiction. The cover art waved at me from the sci-fi section. I picked it up and turned it over. It was listed as a paranormal romance.
I had a little taste of a paranormal romance from Holly Black's Valiant when the protagonist hooked up with green troll, but Demon's Delight would mark my first official trek into the territory. Thankfully, it wasn't in the romance section, so I felt no embarrassment when people walked by and saw me reading the back cover.
Demon’s Delight is composed of four novelettes: The first story in its arsenal is MaryJanice Davidson’s “Witch Way.” Davidson’s story begins at the burning of a witch, Christopher De Meer, by Tucker Goodman during the Salem witch trials. Jumping ahead a few centuries finds us with Rhea Goodman as she’s told that she, the eldest, is destined to kill the eldest descendent of Christopher de Meer.
Meanwhile, Chris Meer (he dropped the “de”), the oldest descendent of Christopher De Meer, wants to be a good witch. He goes in search for the Goodman destined to kill him in hopes for a truce. He finds Rhea Goodman and this is where the fun begins.
The next story, “Street Corners and Halos” by Catherine Spangler, revolves around a prostituting vampire named Rachel Styrker. She doesn’t really have sex with her clients; she only plants the images in their head as she sucks their blood – and goodness, we get to see the images she plants. Yep, I have to say this is not like the romance novels my mom used to have on her bookshelves.
Rachel Stryker, the prostituting vampire, was turned into a vampire at a Jewish concentration camp while the guards were raping her. Did I mention her entire family was killed at this concentration camp? Yeah, pretty heavy. Rachel has decided to live her un-dead life with no connections, love, or aspirations.
In walks Gabriel Anthony, an angel sent from God (who is a woman in this story). Gabriel is on a mission to bring Rachel out of her unhappy shell and show her she can have a meaningful and purposeful life as a vampire. Gabriel is also a good-looking, well-dressed, expensive car-loving, and sexual man. I can only imagine some of the hate mail Spangler will be getting from offended Christians, but then again, what is a Christian woman doing reading a book called Demon’s Delight?
The third story, “The Demon’s Angel” by Emma Holly, is almost as risqué in nature as “Street Corners and Halos” – not so much for the religious aspect, but for the sexual taboos it pushes and then surpasses. This short story also mixes speculative fiction and romance to a greater extent than the two previous works. A species of beings called the Yama, who look upon humans as an inferior species, share the earth with them. Dr. Khira Forette, a Yama geneticist, is instructed to kidnap a human off the streets to perform a series of genetic tests. She, of course, falls in love with the human.
The fourth and final story is “Angel and the Hellraiser” by Vickie Taylor. The style of writing isn’t as catchy as the three previous writers, but it’s still a good story.
I have to say this is one of the best anthologies I’ve read. It’s short, the chosen authors are clearly the best at what they do, and the characters are fully developed. I will be looking for future works from these authors and I won’t feel like a romance novel reader because their books are usually listed as “paranormal” and therefore I’ll be sticking to my sci-fi junky code of honor.