Simone Dubois is a medical examiner who gets called in on cases with a supernatural bent. She knows about Daimons, the bloodsuckers who populate downtown New Orleans, and her friend Tate is in touch with the Squires of a few Dark-Hunters. Somehow, she manages to retain her sanity despite knowing things about the world that would give other humans screaming nightmares about what really goes bump in the night.
Xypher is Half Demon, Half God, and all pissed off. Released from endless torture down in Hades for a mere 30 days, he is determined to spend that time tracking down and killing, slowly and painfully, the woman who suckered him into putting himself there in her place, Satara, a former handmaiden of Artemis. She has heard of his release, and is so scared of him and what he can do, that she decides to have him killed by Demons under her control. When that doesn't work, her brother tells her to capitalize on Xypher's weaknesses. Since Xypher doesn't have them, her brother Stryker helps her give Xypher a weakness, by chaining him though ancient Atlantean devices to the much weaker Simone. Kill the weaker of the pair, and the stronger also dies. Now all they have to do is kill Simone, but that is going to be harder than it looks.
Simone has always known she is different. When her mother and brother were killed in a convenience store robbery with her cowering in the car outside, a ghost came to help her. Jesse has been her friend and confidante since shortly after that day, and when her father committed suicide a scant six months later, she came to rely on him even more. Since she is the only one who can see him, most people think she isn't right in the head. But she's more than adequate to deal with Xypher, as she has a great deal in common with him due to her history.
Xypher is hard and cold, product of an upbringing that was hellish at best. But when Simone goes out of her way to take care of him and gives him things with no expectations of return, he feels an unaccustomed softening of his heart where Simone is concerned. Could it be possible that he has finally found a woman he can love who won't use him as Satara did? And when Simone is nearly killed after a demon attack, can Xypher give up his dream and need for vengeance to help the woman he loves grow into her new powers? Which does he love more, Simone? Or revenge?
I really enjoyed this book, although this series is something like my own personal crack. I see one and I must go over and indulge in reading it. Xypher, at the beginning of the book, is a horrible grump and curmudgeon who acts worse than a bear with a sore paw. He lashes out at everyone and everything, even Simone, especially when they are bound together- because of the sense of entrapment he feels.
Of course, forcing them to stay closely together makes them see how courageous the other is, and though Xypher resists it with all his might, Love whacks him over the head with a caveman-type club, and he's lost. I liked the slow softening of Xypher's character, though I think Simone was portrayed as a bit *too* good, almost saintly, in the way she always seemed to understand where Xypher was coming from. If someone needled me the way Xypher did, even with his history, I'd find myself responding in kind at least once in a while.
That aside, I like the love scenes between the two of them, and the way Simone wins Xypher over by just being herself. Someone who, just like him, took hard knocks in life but ended up surviving. Also, a normal human woman who throws herself into a fight with a demon to help someone who's half God? That's a major kick-ass heroine in my book. (To be fair, she had a bracelet from Acheron which made her stronger and more powerful, but still...)
There is a surprise twist near the end of the book, and a scene with Simon, Xypher, Jesse and another ghost dancing like maniacs to 80's music had me laughing out loud picturing the scene in my head. This book is filled with great fight scenes and some wonderful humor, and I'm looking forward to Sherrilyn Kenyon's new book, Acheron, coming out this month.