Lionel, a necromancer for the Brunswick Police Department, has a hell of a problem. His name is Lucy, as in Lucifer, a devil — or maybe the devil — who wants nothing more than to get into Lionel’s pants. Why, Lionel has no idea. What could this gorgeous, powerful, dangerous man want with someone like him? Someone with his dull brown hair and mud puddle brown eyes? It’s not like Lucy couldn’t get anyone or anything he wanted with one lascivious smile, so why is he chasing Lionel? And why does he want Lionel, of all people, to pretend to be his boyfriend?
Lucy enjoys the simple pleasures in life. Making Lionel frown, making Lionel scowl, making Lionel say his name with angry resignation … and romance novels. Lucy adores the foolish dances and romances humans go through, and he’s determined to have his own fling with the bratty necromancer who refuses to give him the time of the day.
This story is the first book in the Hellbound series. Lionel, like many other necromancers working for many other police departments, is practical and pragmatic, snarky and dismissive, but it feels strangely unearned. Lionel’s voice in this story is very, very strong — which is something not all authors are able to get across, so credit to Piper for the writing style — but the character’s personality, ironically, barely shows up at all. It’s hard to tell Lionel apart from any other put upon and beleaguered necromancer or mage from any other series, much as it’s hard to say if there’s anything distinctive about this book. So much of it feels like something I’ve read before, with characters I’ve seen before, and that, combined with the author’s very particular style, made it difficult to get into this book.
The plot — a murder mystery going on in the background while Lucy is courting his very reluctant Lionel — is sturdy enough, but not enough attention is given to it. The murderer is targeting magic users, but no real reason is given. Everyone in the world seems to accept magic as a given, so what makes this one person so special? We’re not really given time to find out because the focus of this story is on Lucy getting Lionel into bed, whether Lionel’s willing or not.
The first sex scene between the couple is heavily non consensual. Lucy brings a magically drugged Lionel to orgasm despite Lionel repeatedly saying no and attempting to push Lucy away. Lucy tells Lionel — in essence — your body is saying yes. A following scene has Lionel drunk, and the devil won’t take advantage of him, but how is one situation different than the other? The noncon and/or dubcon elements are tepid and uncertain.
The writing style is full of personality and the pacing is decent. However, if you’re interested in this book, I strongly suggest trying a sample, first. If you don’t care for Lionel’s voice in the first few pages, you probably won’t find much enjoyment in the rest of the book. Lionel’s voice and character don’t really change throughout the story, other than going from unwilling to willing when it comes to being in Lucy’s bed. Personally, this is a pass from me.