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Review: With A Vengeance by Freydís Moon

Kye Lovato left their hometown in search of a better future, but when their estranged mother passes away, they return to their parish to settle her affairs. Even though Kye escaped their traumatic past, being back in swampy Madison, Louisiana only worsens their debilitating depression, increases their dissociative episodes, and intensifies the intrusive voice plaguing their every thought.

The moment Kye steps foot into their childhood home, they know something is wrong. That night, they come face to face with the shadowy presence driving them mad: the handsome demon duke, Eli, who offers them an irresistible deal. In exchange for their soul, Eli will give them pain, pleasure, and power.

Kye set a path for themself—live fast, die young—and Eli seems like the perfect exit route. With nothing to lose, they agree.

But after an impromptu visit from a local ICE agent, Kye forms an unlikely friendship with their mother’s bookkeeper and stumbles into an insidious mystery surrounding their family’s homegrown alebrije business. Met with ghosts, displaced employees, and a garage filled with unfinished artwork, Kye can’t help but wonder. . . What was their mother hiding? And why is a rogue officer interested in Lovato Alebrijes?

Kye is possessed, unkempt, and chasing death, but as stubborn as they are, they’re the only person left alive who can resurrect the family business and carry the Lovato legacy, and their only ally is the demon possessing them.

What is With A Vengeance about?

Genre

I mean, the cover pretty much says it: “dark paranormal erotic romance.” There’s also a little bit of a mystery involved, for sure. The novel is paranormal in that ghosts and demons are very much real, and much of the story focuses on Kye’s romantic/sexual endeavor (for lack of a better word). However, there’s a lot more going on for Kye in the novel as they grapple with complex feelings, mental illness, and in a way a coming into one’s self.

Tropes

There’s a “deal with the devil” moment for sure, as well as a corrupt cop (ACAB). There are definitely the earmarks of a dark erotic romance, as well, with some spicy scenes involving blood play (definitely pay attention to those TW/CWs).

Plot

While the linear plot definitely exists–Kye returns “home” to settle the affairs of their family, uncovers some corrupt bullshit, fights the system–it definitely takes a backseat to the relationship between Kye and their demon(s). Meaning that the plot is a little less important than Kye working through past trauma from their childhood, their young adulthood, and finding a way to remain on their feet as an adult.

The Good

I love that this book doesn’t shy away from anything it promises. Kye is unapologetic about the way they are, especially because they are in touch with the traumas that changed their life. There’s blood, revenge, moral greyness, and an absolutely queer existence all wrapped up in the paranormal aspects of the book. And those are really good, too! The way the ghosts are written, and of course Eli, emphasize that the rules of conventional Western fiction don’t apply here. It’s a great way to emphasize the Otherness of Kye’s existence–coming from a family of immigrants, being overtly queer in a strict Christian family, having to develop a fierce sense of independence in order to survive. The way that Eli cares for Kye is so interesting, too, creating a dynamic in which everything is not good or pure but is still loyal and affectionate.

The Okay

I think the biggest thing I wanted from this story was more time. More time spent on Kye’s relationships with the people around them, more time spent at Kye’s home and new business. More opportunities to see Kye’s personality grow around Eli’s, and more exposition about Kye and Eli’s background. You are expected, as the reader, to suspend your disbelief pretty early in the story and I wish there had been a little bit more reward for that.

The Bad

Honestly, I don’t have any critiques at this time that I would classify as “bad.” This is a genuinely good book.

Final Thoughts

This book is actually really hard to review. It’s a complicated book, in a good way. There’s a lot of emotion that goes on–all of the characters have such strong feelings that you spend a lot of time in on the pages. You soak in those emotions, absorbing them and in some cases feeling them viscerally. Kye is a constant whirlwind of thoughts, feelings, desires, and more. There are layers of what’s happening–beyond the immediate “death in the family” emotions there are years of emotional betrayal, desperation, and deep sorrow for Kye to peel back. There are immediate and pressing villains to the story, as well, and despite Kye’s desire to completely be free of their past they cannot leave it behind. Add onto that the enigmatic demon haunting Kye’s steps, manifesting and breaking through any semblance of rationality. This book is about the harshest, darkest, most erotic moments of the paranormal just as much as it is about grief, despair, desperation, and all that goes with them. I want to say so much more about this book, but honestly I think it will have to speak for itself–no one else could do it justice.

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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