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Can a sexy demon really spin straw into gold?
Poe Dupin, raven shifter and thief extraordinaire, is in trouble with a capital ‘T.’ Not only did he get his wing caught in the cookie jar during his latest heist, but his loser stepdad seems determined to run their roost into the ground. And Baltimore is many things, but forgiving is not on the list.
When his stepdad puts the roost in peril, Poe sees no choice but to bargain with Charm City’s only demon, Tommy Tittoti. Rumors are that Tommy eats the souls of those foolish enough to try. Three strikes and you’re out. But really, Poe wasn’t using his soul anyway. And if it saves his roost? Worth it.
Tommy isn’t what Poe expects. Demon—huge, horned, hairy, and scary, right? Nope. Blond, gorgeous, with a lilting drawl that beckons Poe to come play. Total hookup-app fantasy material. Even if he is a murder twink.
Poe’s no angel, but Tommy . . . well he’s more devil than demon. Yet, Poe just can’t seem to keep his feathers out of the fire. As one bargain turns into two, and then a third tragedy strikes the ravens, Poe finds himself falling for a guy who may very literally be the death of him. Or maybe the flames will burn them both.
The Demon’s in the Details is a fast-paced, roller coaster of a romance with a guaranteed happily-ever-after and lots of steam. Shenanigans include: a gold object that is definitely not a ring, a best friend who’s trigger-happy, and a demon who’s got a few surprises up his, uh, sleeve.
Rating: Narration – A; Content – B+
I always have trouble finding a book to fill the “fairytale” prompt because fairytale retellings aren’t things I’m particularly drawn to and I don’t have many of them. In fact, I was on the point of giving up on finding one for this month’s prompt when I was scrolling through my Audible library and my eye was caught by a subtitle – “an m/m paranormal fairytale”, and I thought, “that’ll do!” The fact that the audiobook is narrated by one of my all-time favourite narrators was a big plus.
The Demon’s in the Details is a riff on Rumpelstiltskin that hits the basic beats of the original without being an exact reproduction of it, transforming the passive main character into a brave, fiercely protective individual who can look out for himself, the king – who is, let’s face it, a pretty nasty piece of work – into a kind of mob boss, and the titular character from the villain of the story into… well, not the villain 😉 It’s a thoroughly entertaining story that moves at a fairly swift pace without feeling rushed, the leads are well-drawn and easy to root for and the narration by Greg Boudreaux is flawless.
Raven shifter and jewel thief Poe Dupin is planning on putting the proceeds from his latest heist towards paying salaries and running costs of his roost, but his dickhead of a stepfather Ethan – who is the roost’s alpha – tells him he needs the money to pay part of the eight hundred grand gambling debt he now owes to casino owner, basilisk shifter and all-round sleazebag Biggs Bickley. As if it’s not bad enough that Bickley is already milking the roost for protection money. The only way the roost can manage to keep its head above water most times is because of Poe’s side-gig of finding (both legally and illegally) rare gems for the customers of his shop, Spun Gold Jewelers. This isn’t the first time Ethan has selfishly endangered the roost, but Poe very much fears it might be the last. How on earth is he going to raise that kind of money?
At the suggestion of his best friend. Poe reluctantly decides to approach demon Tommy Tittoti for help. Tommy is dangerous, powerful and mysterious – nobody really knows for sure what he is and where he comes from – but Poe is caught between a rock and a hard place, and heads to Tommy’s place, a barbershop of all things – Rumpled Still: Skin, Hair, and Scalp ready to make a bargain for the money to pay the debt and save the roost.
Tommy turns out to be not at all what Poe had expected. Instead of some hulking, disgusting brute, Tommy is a gorgeous twinky blond (Poe labels him a “murder twink” – which made me smile every time!) and Poe can’t take his eyes off him. Tommy proposes a bargain (while giving Poe the cleanest (sexiest) shave he’s ever had) – surprising Poe by asking for a price he can easily pay. Poe can’t believe he’s getting off that lightly, but also isn’t about to look a gift demon in the mouth, and the bargain is struck.
While the story is familiar and there’s not a lot new here – of course, the bad guys are very bad, and the good guys are very good – the excellent storytelling, world-building and characterisations elevate the tale beyond the ordinary and make for a super fun fantasy romp. The various conflicts and challenges Poe and Tommy face are well thought-out, and there’s a lively secondary cast of supernatural beings (Carter the cat shifter is a total scene stealer) with different gifts and abilities. Poe is an all-round decent guy trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstances, to look after his younger step-siblings and take care of everyone in the roost, even though it’s not technically his responsibility as he’s not the alpha. I liked his snarky inner voice, and he’s got attitude by the bucket-load; he doesn’t think he’s anything special, but proves over and over that he is, especially in his willingness to give away the very thing he prizes the most in order to save the roost. Tommy is an intriguing mixture of smooth, sexy and dangerous that fascinates Poe right from the start, and their chemistry is combustible. Even though Poe is the sole PoV character, the author skilfully shows us Tommy’s motivations and feelings, and how he struggles to balance his own wants and needs with the demands of his demonic nature. For a demon/assassin/vigilante he’s surprisingly endearing!
Greg Boudreaux is one of the best romance audiobook narrators around and he delivers a superb, well-paced performance that perfectly captures all the fun, mischief and heartache of this story. All the characters are voiced in ways that reflect their personalities – such as the slight hiss on the sibilants in Bickley’s dialogue – and are clearly differentiated so that there’s never any problem working out who is speaking. The two leads are really well depicted; Poe’s snappy snark is expertly timed and his hidden vulnerabilities are beautifully conveyed, and Tommy’s slight southern drawl drips with honey and sex and sarcasm, and works really well to fool people into thinking he’s the non-threatening twink he presents himself as. As always, Mr. Boudreaux hits all the right emotional notes, and he brings the connection between Poe and Tommy vividly to life.
I had a few small niggles (I’m not a fan of stories where a third party has to tell person A how person B really feels about them), but overall The Demon’s in the Details is a fresh, fun take on a well-known story and I really enjoyed it.