Demon on the Down-Low (Supernatural Selection #3), E J Russell
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Paranormal – Demon, Kangaroo Shifter. Pansexual MC, Sexually Fluid Characters, Humour, Series
Length: 300 Pages
After decades of unrequited love, this kangaroo will jump at the chance for a date. Any date.
Lovelorn kangaroo shifter Hamish Mulherne, drummer for the mega-hit rock band Hunter’s Moon, waited years for the band’s jaguar shifter bassist to notice him. Instead, she’s just gotten married and is in a thriving poly relationship. How is Hamish supposed to compete with that? But with everyone else in the band mated and revoltingly happy, he needs somebody. Since he can’t expect true love to strike twice, he signs up with Supernatural Selection. Because what the hell.
When Zeke Oz was placed at Supernatural Selection through the Sheol work-release program, he thought he was the luckiest demon alive. But when he seems responsible for several massive matchmaking errors, he’s put on notice: find the perfect match for Hamish, or get booted back to Sheol for good. The only catch? He has to do it without the agency’s matchmaking spells, and Hamish simply will not engage.
But Zeke starts to believe that the reason all of Hamish’s dates fizzle is because nobody in the database is good enough for him. And Hamish realizes that his perfect match might be the cute demon who’s trying so hard to make him happy.
I started my journey with the Supernatural Selection series at book #2, Vampire with Benefits – Casimer and Rusty’s story. I had to grab a copy of Demon on the Down-Low after reading Vampire with Benefits because that book will remain a favourite of mine for years to come.
Hamish is a kangaroo shifter, another first for me – I’ve read about a horse shifter and now a kangaroo shifter in the space of a week. He’s originally from Queensland, Australia, but now he is based in Portland, Oregon. He’s old, don’t know how old just that he is. He’s the drummer for Hunter’s Moon, a popular supernatural rock band. I didn’t know the band members or their partners, I’m guessing they’ve been in previous books/series by this author. I didn’t really form a connection with them throughout this book but liked the fact they supported each another in one way or another.
Hamish is a knockabout kind of guy, pretty easy going. A typical drummer, he’s always drumming out a rhythm on something with some implement or other in his hands. My father was a drummer, he never stopped drumming on any surface possible until he no longer could. I thought that apt. He becomes involved with Supernatural Selection to find someone as a plus one for an upcoming wedding and if something more develops, that would be nice. When he’s asked who he would like to be matched up with, because he hasn’t given much detail on his form, Hamish describes himself as ‘not picky.’ It’s because he a) initially had a thing for Tiff a band member b) isn’t sure about all this perfect match business, and c) he’s pansexual which is never said directly but evidenced by the broad base of partners he agrees to go out with that Zeke matches him against. I liked that.
Zeke can only be described as the penultimate book virgin, he knows absolutely nothing about sex. He’s also incredibly innocent and sweet, and given that he’s existed for over a thousand years as a lower-rung demon in Sheol, it’s a remarkable feat in and of itself. With everything stacked against him, the witches matching-spells not working so he’s on his own with Hamish, threats of one last chance to get things right at SS or he’s shipped back to Sheol, an AI – angel interface – that’s always over his shoulder, condescending, angry, lighting up like a runway strip, and spying on him, it’s a lot to deal with. On top of that, Hamish shouldn’t have been able to get his application form in because the witches closed all matchmaking applications to sort out their problems. Like everything else that happens or is happening to Zeke, this is another obstacle that comes his way that he takes in his stride. He likes the idea of love and matchmaking and treats it seriously. He wants to see people happy, very un-demon-like of him. He doesn’t want to go back to soul-sucking Sheol and to his total arsehole of a demon master, Melchom. With everything going on and his sweet nature, you can’t help but cheer for some happiness for dear Zeke.
Over the course of Zeke attempting to pair Hamish up, because his orders from Magistra Lenore are to make Hamish happy, the two of them are thrown together and develop feelings. Hamish is a bit clueless at first and Zeke can’t possibly develop any attachment. He’s not allowed to fraternise. He’s not allowed to leave the Supernatural Selections building. He’s not allowed to have a decent life. Still, love finds a way and Hamish gets a kick out of the firsts Zeke experiences – falafels, seafood, the night sky, water, music, eventually sex. It was lovely watching them fall for one another and overcome some obstacles.
A Few Niggles:
Hamish speaks a bastardised Australian/British language: I do believe the author was making a point that he’s older, but he’s in the music industry and he does contemporise some words. We really don’t say strewth or crikey here anymore, hardly anyone says too right. Oi! is rare when addressing someone. Shite is more Irish, bollocks or bollixing more British, and I’m not sure who uses blighters or a right Charley anymore. I felt like Chips Rafferty or the cast of The Darling Buds of May had dropped in. Bogan is contemporary Aussie speak, so that one worked. Bugger has pretty much stood the test of time. I get quite toey about the way our language is portrayed or used in books. It’s a pet peeve.
I know the use of the word Johnson for cock was a cutesy thing, something between Hayden and Zeke, but it bugged me because it’s (more than) a tad unsexy.
There’s definitely a full-house sign lit up in neon on Demon on the Down-Low. There are so many characters, couples (a thruple) in this book, and I only knew approximately three characters previously. I did feel like I was dropped into the middle of something I was supposed to know more about. I made a conscious decision to block a lot of the others out, go with the flow, and follow the MCs story line. I like to be made to think, but too many characters in romance generally swamp MC chemistry – that did occur in the last 20% of the book when it became name and character-role frenetic.
Zeke remained a sweetie and Hamish easy to like which made the overall story enjoyable and, honestly, there is something quite charming and addictive about this author’s writing. Her MC relationships are endearing, and Zeke and Hamish were no exception. I was happy for their happiness, although this story is not as good as Casimer and Rusty’s, maybe because the author concentrated heavily on both of them throughout Vampire with Benefits. I may also be biased, but that pair are simply perfect.
So the hardcore character lover in me thought the MCs were well suited and I clipped a lot of their dialogue and thoughts, that means a lot to me. As I looked back through to grab some quotes for this review I re-remembered how much I enjoyed the majority of my journey with this pair. How kind Zeke was. How selfless. How Hamish decided he would like ‘heart eyes’ from Zeke just for him. His Orpheus moment. How he decided he would do little things for Zeke because no one ever had before.
He brought me falafel. Zeke’s mouth watered from the delicious aroma and the one tiny bite he’d managed so far, but he couldn’t make himself eat—not yet. His throat was too tight.
This series is a little different and I like that. It offers light paranormal/supernatural reading. The MCs are engaging and have unique personalities. The writing is of a high calibre and the editing is the same. The author gives readers different sexual orientations and rainbow letter representation without labels, always endeavouring to be sensitive and caring in her delivery. This is also another perfect cover. Even with a couple of niggles the 80/20 rule applies in favour of my overall reading pleasure so I simply can’t give Demon on the Down-Low any less than 4 Stars!