Kathryn Reynolds is a responsible businesswoman and homeowner who is renting out part of her home to a woman named Heather DeYoung. Heather is something of a flake and can be exasperating, but when she disappears without a trace, Kathryn does the responsible thing and calls the police to report her disappearance. But when Detective Jack Thompson shows up at her house, there is a moment when they meet each other where time seems to stretch and distort into a bubble, and the two of them feel different around each other.
Jack finds himself immediately attracted to Kathryn and struggles to keep his composure and his professional tone. He talks to Kathryn about Heather, and aside from hearing about how well they got along, he soon realizes that landlady and tenant were nothing alike. But while Kathryn has only good to say about Heather, the same isn't true about her boyfriend, Gary Swinton, who she viewed as a user and a very unlikeable individual. For example, when Heather got pregnant, Gary insisted she get an abortion, or he would stop seeing her, and then made her pay for it on her own. He also borrowed money from Heather and never paid her back.
Jack searches Heather's apartment and discovers a stash of S&M magazines in her things. This manages to freak Kathryn out a little, and she begins to reflect that maybe she didn't know her tenant very well at all. Jack leaves her with his card, but despite leaving, he almost can't stop himself from thinking about her. And neither can Kathryn stop herself from thinking about Jack, or finding herself from desiring him in the most elemental of ways.
But their attraction to each other isn't natural. They are being brought together by a demon from another dimension to throw a Satanist who desires to summon and control a demon from summoning him to the human dimension. This magician, a man who calls himself Simon Gwynn, is going to use Heather DeYoung as a sacrifice to bring through a demon. Heather wasn't exactly his first choice- he really would have preferred Kathryn, as she reminds him of a former girlfriend who once dumped him for another man, but Heather will have to do for now.
The demon will do anything, even manipulate the lives of Jack and Kathryn, to keep Gwynn from succeeding in his summoning. But when Gwynn's first plan is foiled, and he realizes that the Demon is using the two humans against him, wittingly or unwittingly, he will do anything to summon the demon and rid himself of the two thorns in his side. Now, it will be up to Jack, Kathryn and their friends, including a werewolf working as a private eye, to track down this demon-summoner turned serial killer and keep him from summoning the demon, because if he manages to do so, the Demon will suicide rather than give a human control over him, and obliterating most of this universe along with himself. Can Jack and Kathryn keep the demon from being summoned and stop Gwynn before he succeeds in his mad plan?
This was a new series for me I'd never seen before, and this book is second in the series. The first one, Killing Moon, is about the werewolf detective character, and the woman he eventually ends up marrying. It was nice to see those characters being part of a significant subplot in this book and not just be used for "and they are living happily ever after, isn't that nice?" scenes that some writers use their past characters for. I got a sense of those characters as characters and not just former plot events. Again, a nice touch.
But even more are the sense of both Jack and Kathryn as characters. Yes, their coming together was influenced by the demon, but in the end, they manage to rise above the "Manipulated into a relationship" kind of vibe and find things about each other to appreciate and enjoy. My only quibble is that they never really dealt with the beginning of their feelings for each other being more or less coerced, which certainly would have given me pause if I had been in that situation. But the romance is done well, and the mystery plot really kept my attention the whole way through. Simon comes off as legitimately scary and a threat, using both magic and normal means to threaten both characters.
He's also not without flaws, and said flaws do bring him down in the end. There are some nice scenes dealing with Jack's kids, who have to adapt to their father finding a new relationship with a new woman, and also his housekeeper having to do the same. It's only at the end, when Kathryn is instrumental in saving Jack's daughter, Lily, that she finally unbends, but all the plots and subplots acted together to make the book stronger, and I found myself unable to put the book down.
I really loved this book, and I enjoyed every moment of reading it. While the supernatural element is less focussed on the wider world, the plot comes across as not so much supernatural at all. Even the "demon" part isn't a standard reading of what the word usually means when it shows up in supernatural fiction. The truth is something far different, although summoning one could mean the Apocalyptic end to the universe. This is a taut story, engaging and very realistic feeling although its underpinnings are firmly in the supernatural genre. Highly recommended.