Abaddon is a devil who is way behind on soul acquisition. He knows he needs to meet his quota soon or he will be demoted to an even worse job, but his heart is just not in it. Abaddon figures if he can make a big score with a really pure soul, that might buy him some more time. He heads to the Bible belt, home of lots of true believers who are perfect candidates.
Abaddon soon senses a soul of incredible purity and finds it belongs to Seth, a blind musician who is part of a traveling revival group. It is pretty clear Abaddon has stumbled upon something amazing here – Seth’s soul is so pure and his belief is so devout that if Abaddon can get Seth to sell his soul, he is set for years. But Seth is not interested in bargaining, and as Abaddon gets to know him, he realizes he isn’t sure he wants to win this battle. Seth just calls to him in a way that makes Abaddon crave his presence and Abaddon finds himself returning to the revival night after night just to spend time with Seth.
It doesn’t take long for Abaddon to realize there is something a bit different about Seth. His has unusual abilities that Abaddon can’t explain. And Abaddon finds himself falling hard for Seth. But he also knows there can be no future for them. Abaddon has wasted time and now there is no way he can meet his quota, especially since he is unwilling to risk Seth’s soul any longer. Now Abaddon has to figure out if there is way to save Seth, and himself, and find a way that the two can have a future together.
Damned If You Do surprised me with its romantic and sweet story. I guess I was expecting something a bit more snarky, or with a bit more deviousness given the set up. But despite being a devil, Abaddon is a good guy who is pretty much smitten with Seth from the get go and we never feel that Seth is in any real danger. Instead, the focus of the story is on Abaddon’s growing feelings, as well as following along as he tries to figure out how he can save both Seth and himself. Seth is pretty much perfect — sweet, kind, selfless, and devout without being self righteous. Abaddon falls hard for him right away and their relationship grows with a lot of sweetness. Things are pretty tame on the sex end, but the story is romantic and sweet and I enjoyed these guys together. At times I did wish for a bit more devilish playfulness, a bit more fire between them, but for what it is, the story is done well.
Sexton also does a nice job with the world building here, giving us a sense of the afterlife and Abandon’s role. It is well developed with a bit of cleverness, and things are explained in enough detail to give us a good sense of the world without too much exposition. The setting within the revival is interesting and provides a great backdrop for Seth’s character and for Abaddon trying to figure out just what is different about Seth. There is a lot of Bible quoting and Seth is definitely devout, but the story doesn’t feel “religious” and it doesn’t overwhelm the book in any way.
Overall I found this one to be entertaining with some nice world building and two very likable characters. You can’t help but want to see these guys happy together and the story has an unexpected sweetness that carries it well.