Saturday, February 7, 2015

Raethiana by John Dylena

It's no secret that I love getting lost in a story, which is why I get so excited when I find trans* themed novels and omnibus editions. Short stories are fun, and there are certainly series that I love to follow, but nothing beats sitting down for 2 or 3 days and becoming immersed in one world. That's why, when John Dylena approached us about some reviews, I was quite content to let Bobbi jump on the short stories while I snatched up longer titles like Raethiana.

There's so much going on here, so many secrets and twists to be revealed, that I really need to be careful not to spoil anything for new readers. It really is full of delightful surprises, some of them sexy and fetishistic, but others rather clever and plot-driven. It's a novel that has a lot of fun playing with the conventions of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genres.

It all starts with a young man who gets picked up in a bar by an impossibly beautiful woman, goes home, gets thrown into bed, and is then shown the night of his life. It's an absolute fantasy scenario for any horny young virgin, and the first big twist comes when Raethiana reveals herself to be a succubus and expresses such shock that sex didn't kill him. She must know how he managed to resist her sexual magic, so she decides to move in, take over his life, and tease him beyond belief. It sounds like an odd couple kind of comedy, and that element is certainly there, but there's a much bigger story beneath it all.

There's a significant amount of conflict here, involving both a hunter of supernatural creatures and a rebellion in the supernatural realm. There's more than enough action and horror to entertain any reader, but there's also a surprisingly seductive tale of romance woven into the erotic fetish exploration. Raethiana and John, succubus and human, explore a wide range of erotic adventures together - some of my favorites, of course, involving gender-bending magic - all leading to an honest-to-gosh romance that really serves as the heart of the tale.

I know, I know, I'm teasing a lot without really saying much, but I don't want to give anything away. You really need to see for yourself how and why the relationship develops the way it does, where the gender bending aspects come in, and how all the story threads come together in a fantastic climax. I loved it, and I came away from it aroused, amused, and astounded. Dylena sets up a lot at the start, and seems to be almost promising too much, but it all pays off in the end.

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