Genre(s): Adult, Paranormal Romance.
Read It If You Like: Emotionally Vulnerable Protagonists, Enemies-to-Lovers, Monster Husbands, Monster Romances, Winged Loved Interests, Demons, Hades and Persephone Vibes.
Content Warnings: Off-Page Child Abuse (physical and emotional). Mentions of Slavery.
What It’s About
Fifty years ago, the gates to Hell broke open. When they did, demons, angels, and nephilim began to walk upon the earth. To keep humanity safe, supernatural beings were relocated behind a walled city, Elisium.
Once you were thrown in there, the rumors went, it was impossible to get out.
Flash forward to the start of the novel: Paige St. Claire, a traumatized young woman, has found herself tossed from one horrifying situation into another. Although she managed to escape her abusive guardian, she was quickly rounded up by corrupt cops and thrown into Elisium under the accusation that she herself wasn’t a human being.
Left to rot in the walled city, Paige is saved at the last moment by the demon lord Kincaid, a beautiful, deadly creature with golden eyes. The only catch? Paige has to help Kincaid solve the mystery of why she “reads” like a supernatural being, because her presence in his city is messing up the political power structure. If she doesn’t help, he’ll hand her off to a less forgiving master.
Fast, engaging, and surprisingly tense, Elena Lawson’s KISS OF THE DAMNED drew me in through its main character. Paige was enveloped in crisis after crisis, and her emotional reaction to those crises were authentic and something I related to with an intense degree.
While Paige’s recovery from her trauma in the second half of the book was a bit rushed, it still felt like an earnest, non-exploitative attempt to cover the subject. I loved KISS OF THE DAMNED for its complex worldbuilding, and the setup of Elisium. I loved how the author described the love interest, Kincaid, and made him seem so tactile and vivid and unique.
The subtle Hades and Persephone vibes between Paige and Kincaid were the best, and by the end of the book I was rereading every little interaction between them, looking for hidden clues and emotional shifts.
If I was going to critique this novel for anything, my only complaint would be that I found the opening chapter a bit choppy. I know! That sounds vague, but it did throw me out of the narrative a bit.
The KISS OF THE DAMNED book is also not a standalone, or a standalone with series potential. So in order to get your HFN/HEA you’ll need to read the whole series—something I haven’t done yet, and as such I cannot vouch for it.
Would I Recommend This Book to Others?
Yes, especially if you like your paranormal romance focused on the emotional connection between the characters. There are definitely content warnings, but as long you know the warnings going in I think the book’s darker elements are manageable.
You can also read more about KISS OF THE DAMNED on my article for Frolic, fall-themed paranormal romance books.