Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 8 hours, 43 minutes
When kangaroo shifter Hamish Mulherne fell in love with his bandmate Tiff in 1969, he always expected hoped that one day she would want him too. Now that half a century has passed and she’s not only never looked at him as anything other than her annoying bandmate, but she’s happily married with a boyfriend, Hamish has reluctantly accepted she’ll never be his. With upcoming wedding festivities to attend and the entire band happily in love, Hamish decides to take a friend’s suggestion to try Supernatural Selections to help him find a date for the activities and maybe help him move on. Convinced he’ll never love again and not one for dating, Hamish decides he’ll let the agency set him up with an acceptable mate for life instead.
When Zeke Oz was chosen as the demon for the pilot Sheol work release program, he was ecstatic, and while he may not be allowed outside of the Supernatural Selection building into the human world and has to be monitored at all times by a rude angel, it’s still the most freedom he’s ever had. Unfortunately, after two high-profile matches go horrifically wrong, his employer is beginning to suspect demonic interference in the spells and has taken them out of commission to investigate. With the website offline and all clients placed on hold, Zeke is stunned when Hamish walks into the office with an appointment and no interest in finding his perfect mate—just someone, anyone really, as he’s not picky and his heart is closed for business. Tasked with finding a match for Hamish without the aid of the spells or else be fired and sent back to Sheol, Zeke is determined to do his best, even as Hamish’s disinterest in the process hinders Zeke’s ability to do his job.
As the pair fumble through disastrous dates, Hamish begins to open up to Zeke in a way he’s never done with anyone else. As the two grow closer, he begins to feel like Zeke is the only entity for him. Unfortunately, with opposition for mainstreaming demons into the human realm from all sides of the supernatural spectrum and Zeke enslaved, being a perfect match will not be enough to grant Zeke freedom from Sheol and lasting happiness for the couple.
As the last book in the Supernatural Selection trilogy, Demon on the Down-Low features Zeke Oz, the upbeat but perpetually beat down demon who was the matchmaker for the MCs in the previous books and has been blamed for their impossible matches, despite the fact that both pairs are extremely happy. Of the three books, it’s the most weighed down by this series being a spin-off, for while the previous books had cameos from an MC or two from the Fae Out of Water series, here there seems to be a lot of overlap/information from Bad Boy’s Bard (about Hamish’s bandmate, Gareth), as well as all the other MCs popping in. However, I think this is a your mileage may vary situation as, in my opinion, Russell does a decent job fitting in pertinent details in dialogue to make following along easy enough and not overly distracting. As long as the story is though, I feel like it could have been a bit shorter and/or spent some more of the page time focused on Zeke and Hamish, instead of dedicated to all the talk about Tiff and her partners, the wedding events, and Gareth’s backstory.
From the moment he was introduced in Single White Incubus, I was hoping that the beleaguered, belittled and under-appreciated little demon would get his HEA, and while all the stories have been a mixed bag for me (including this one), I thoroughly enjoyed Zeke and his sunshiny, optimistic nature and snarky side, and the why and how Zeke seems so different than what a demon “should” be fits well into the world Russel built. The story follows Zeke and Hamish as Zeke does his best to make Hamish happy and find a mate worthy of him, as mayhem follows the frazzled demon at every turn. Although being allowed to work in the human realm is a great opportunity, Zeke is still a pawn and a slave. The higher demons in Sheol have no interest in the work release program and Zeke is still beholden to his master, Malcolm; the witches at Supernatural Selection (like most supes) are distrustful of Zeke because he’s a demon; and everyone treats him like garbage (even the MCs from the previous books and, while they don’t apologize, they at least acknowledge making his job harder).
Zeke is under lots of constraints when it comes to the human world and what he’s allowed to do, but as his main directive is doing what the client wants, finding a match for Hamish without the spells allows him the most freedom he’s ever had; Hamish is quick to exploit the loophole Zeke’s directive gives him in order to offer Zeke some space from the hovering, mean-spirited angel and to get a break from basically being locked up and treated like a prisoner all the time. Zeke gets to go outside and take a walk and have a meal in a restaurant and Hamish gets to see the world in a new light and open up. Hamish is easy-going ,but emotionally closed off, choosing to pine for Tiff for decades, but never asking her out, even though his feelings are obvious to everyone. It was easier and safer to be in love with someone unattainable and believe they were perfect for each other “if only she would see [him]” without actually finding out, and working with Zeke forces Hamish be a little introspective.
The love happens even faster than in previous books, which works better for Zeke than Hamish considering how deeply invested Hamish is in his belief that Tiff is his one and only. His bandmates have called him oblivious and personally, I’d add a bit self-absorbed as he tends to let his feelings about situations and his impetuousness kind of run roughshod over the reality that Zeke lives with daily of being a slave. However, Hamish’s heart is in the right place; even when giving Zeke a hard time, it’s mostly unintentional. And while the love may come almost out of nowhere as the pair don’t spend much time together and Hamish begins the story “heartbroken,” Hamish’s nature seems to be all in at once and he definitely goes to bat for Zeke in a big way.
As mentioned in previous reviews, I enjoy Russell’s take on supernaturals and world building, but Demon did make a problem I have with the draconian nature of her world bigger. It seems to be standard fare for supernaturals keeping their existence secret to have harsh punishments/governing bodies. However, when those bodies are as powerful and as incompetent as the ones in Russell’s Mythmatched Worlds universe, but can still force supes into things like indentured servitude, tagging them and killing them with no real evidence, the books feel more dystopian than light-hearted romcom, so I struggled a bit with them. In Demon, I’m now supposed to believe that a band that has been popular and touring for decades with shifters who haven’t ages somehow don’t violate the Secrecy Pact? Maybe it’s explained in Gareth’s book and they’re using glamour or something, but considering everything that happens in this series with the Council and SECRECY, this is ridiculous. However, I am glad the underlying mystery introduced in Single White Incubus is resolved and there is some progress being made in their governing bodies.
The narration for Demon on the Down-Low is also my favorite of the trilogy as Greg Boudreaux portrays Zeke’s joy and wonder so well that it’s hard not to smile and be even more enchanted by Russell’s sweetheart of a demon. His pacing and tone are spot-on for the series, and there are also so many characters and situations that Boudreaux handles so well that it made the story a treat to listen to. While I was primed to enjoy the book because of my investment in Zeke getting his HEA after all his mistreatment, I think those that enjoy sweet insta-love PNR, good triumphing over evil, and hyperactive drummers with a lot of love to give may find the audio version of Demon on the Down-Low a fun listen as well.