Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blog hop review: Damon Snow and the Nocturnal Lessons

Title: Damon Snow and the Nocturnal Lessons
Author: Olivia Helling
Purchase at Amazon

Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Genre: Regency, paranormal
Length: 25k words, ~100 pages
Formats: mobi

Damon Snow thinks he has the world figured out. As an incubus and male prostitute, it’s a cruel, dark, lonely place where men only want one thing. But when his long-time patron Byrne discovers he’s dying, Byrne offers to leave his entire fortune to him. There’s just one catch. Damon has to write about the reason why another patron procures his services. Caught up in his patron’s impossible love life, Damon suddenly isn’t so sure he knows the answer.

This is pretty far removed from the world of Jane Austen: life in the less attractive parts of Regency London is a struggle to survive with any of the finer feelings intact. Damon has additional strikes against him, being of uncertain and illegitimate parentage, and with a ravening something inside that demands to be fed with lust.

Damon has no illusions about humanity, being able to feel what’s moving inside the minds of his patrons disabused him of believing in kindness and love, to the point of not recognizing it when this rare bird descends. The strange request his patron makes forces him to look outside himself for answers. It’s a strange mirror as well.

This isn’t a romance in the classical sense, though there is an arc with a happy ending. Damon’s the observer who thinks he has nothing to learn. His encounters are the joyless interactions of molly and cull. Something changes for him by the end of the book, but not enough for him to become anyone’s true partner. Further stories are hinted at, and Damon needs the lessons there.

This is Regency from the underclass, no one’s sending calling cards or being seen by the ton. I’m not a scholar of the period by any means, but what I do recognize seems in period, and characters stay consistent with the times. Frequent mention is made of Damon’s incubus but it seems almost extraneous to the story. His fellow mollies have just as much reason to drink themselves into oblivion—they don’t need to sense deeper to know how they’re being abused. However, I’m prepared to believe it will make more difference as the series progresses.

This novella made an interesting opener: the promised legacy hasn’t been signed over yet, and Damon has more to learn about his humanity. I’ll be alert for the next installment. 4 marbles

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