I almost skipped over this book because, despite the hot guy on the cover, it made me think “cowboy” and, in general, I don’t like cowboys. But the title intrigued me because I do like demon stories. (That’s right, I don’t like cowboys, but I do like demons.) I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did.
This isn’t a typical old west setting. This is set way into the future, long after civilization as we know it has ended, every once in a while they stumble upon ruins left over from our current world. Goddesses came to this world, followed by demons, and then the goddesses left and somewhere along the way, the world devolved, returning back to its “old west” like ways. Now the people in Freetown live on the edge of the desert, following the orders of a former priestess, in hopes of having some protection from the demons that remained after the goddesses departed.
Hunter is the demon slayer, who possesses an amulet that protects him against demons. He’s hired by the priestess to capture a woman the priestess claims is demon spawn. He doesn’t trust the priestess, knowing of her hatred for women, but he knows if he doesn’t take the job, someone else will. He can’t handle the idea of an innocent woman handed over to the priestess.
But once he meets Airie, his ideas of innocent and guilty become muddled.
Hunter’s instinct is to kill demons, but he can’t bring himself to kill Airie. Even though the fire in her eyes reveals she’s part demon, he’s also seen that she has the ability to heal, cares about people and has a deep respect for life. He’s with her when the priestess who raised her dies, and the mountain she called home is destroyed. He feels obligated to watch over her, at least until he can figure out a better solution.
He isn’t sure what to do, and he’s afraid that his feelings toward her are nothing more than the lure of a demon. The romance between the two takes a while to build. The attraction is instant, but Hunter goes back and forth between wanting her and hating that she’s a demon. At times I found this a bit frustrating, but because they took a while to figure out their feelings for each other, their relationship felt more believable.
I liked that Airie was such a strong character. She’s always ready to fight when necessary to protect herself and those she cares about, and is never content to stand back and let others defend her. She’s a bit naïve, but not at all stupid. She’s aware of her limitations and understands there is much about the world she doesn’t know.
A few things did bother me about this book. There are so many people telling lies and keeping secrets, I had moments when I couldn’t even remember what the truth was. It was late at night/early in the morning and maybe I was having reading comprehension problems, but I recall one paragraph saying Airie’s birth caused the fire on the mountain and about two sentences later, it says the Demon Lord caused the fire and he was completely unaware of Airie’s birth. So how did her birth cause the fire? And near the end, when Airie has to make a choice about who she wants to be – goddess or demon – I wasn’t entirely certain I understood her options. I re-read one page a few times and then decided to just move forward and accept that it was complicated.
Also, I felt like there was a very intense love story there between the Demon Lord and the Goddess and as I was reading the book, I kept hoping more would be revealed about them. Maybe a prequel? I would really like a Goddess/Demon love story.
Overall though, I enjoyed this book. It’s a different take on the ideas of demons and goddesses. This is the first book in a series called Demon Outlaws and I’m looking forward to the next book.