Heat Factor: They’re mostly too busy fighting demons (no danger banging here!)
Character Chemistry: Their magic blends perfectly
Plot: Lesbian demon hunters in the wild west, except we start the story in the middle and one has amnesia
Overall: I liked it, mainly because the setup is very very cool
When I first chatted with Cathy Pegau about her book (she Tweeted about looking for reviewers, and I jumped on that train immediately), she said that historical lesbian demon hunters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I guess I get it, but historical lesbian demon hunters are DEFINITELY my cup of tea (another data point for me to analyze because sometimes my smut-reading preferences mystify even me), so here we are!
If you’re like me, and historical lesbian demon hunters ARE your cup of tea, then let me tell you that the set-up for this story is very cool. Maggie and Grace are both members of the Order of St. Theresa. People—mostly women—who have certain magic abilities are recruited into the Order, whereupon they dedicate their lives to fighting demons. The way magic works is that some people are “sources” (and I think have stronger magical power) and others are “catalysts” (and help the sources channel their power), so people bond as complementary pairs (magically, but frequently also emotionally). All of which is to say: demon-fighting nuns.
Grace and Maggie are a bonded pair who, when the story opens, have been fighting demons together for about five years. But twist: they have been forcibly separated and Maggie doesn’t remember Grace. Oh shit. So the story progresses along dual timelines. In the present, Maggie and Grace and running around the American West, trying to figure out who wiped their memories and what the heck is going on and also trying to not get killed by demons. This is interspersed with chapters set in the past, which slowly reveal how they first met and became a bonded pair. I love a good story that starts in the middle, and the way Pegau puts the narrative together is really effective at building tension and stoking the mystery.
If you’re reading this strictly as a romance, I would say it’s a mixed bag. It’s a super slow burn with a little bit of pining and few kisses (and one not-super-detailed sex scene at 90%), so if you’re in it for the longing looks and glancing touches and physical intimacy, this may not scratch that itch. However, the way they really connect is through their magic as it weaves together, and that aspect of their relationship is just gorgeously done. It’s really unique and fun and I love the way that Pegau played with their abilities as a physical source of connection. I also thought the resolution of the story, though not what I was expecting, was really nice and heartwarming.
In terms of plot, I found it a bit anticlimactic. The setup is so so good, but I was disappointed at the big reveal. I don’t want to give things away, but I will say, as a general rule, that betrayal by a stranger is much less gutting than betrayal by a close friend. I also would have liked more build-up to the big battle, because what they do is a big friggin’ deal, but it doesn’t quite seem like it.
Overall, I would say: if you’re historical-lesbian-demon-hunters-curious, this is worth a read.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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