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The Demon Lover    by Juliet Dark order for
Demon Lover
by Juliet Dark
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2011 (2011)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Carol Goodman, acclaimed author of Arcadia Falls, The Night Villa and The Sonnet Lover, turns her hand (writing as Juliet Dark) to fantasy/paranormal romance in The Demon Lover, first in an exciting new series.

It opens as orphaned Callie McFay - whose parents had fostered her love of folklore and fairytales - has completed her Ph.D. on The Demon Lover in Gothic Literature and published the bestselling Sex Lives of the Demon Lovers. She decides to accept a teaching position at second-tier Fairwick College, three hours from New York in 'a faded Catskill village shadowed by mountains and bordered by a thousand acres of virgin forest.'

Arriving at Fairwick, Callie is entranced by Honeysuckle House, a five-bedroom Victorian, and purchases it immediately to the dismay of her fiancÚ Paul, currently at UCLA. She has erotic dreams of extraordinary sex, just as the previous owner did - author Dahlia LaMotte wrote 'of a lover made out of moonlight who ravished her heroines'.

Soon Callie has an unwanted roommate (Phoenix, a flamboyant associate at the college). She learns that her favorite student, Nicky, comes from a family cursed for generations, a curse that will strike Nicky very soon when she turns eighteen. And she worries about another student, Mara, who appears to be anorexic.

As Thanksgiving approaches and Callie's nightly encounters increase in intensity, she undergoes an intervention by local witches, who show her how to work a spell to banish her incubus - but was she wholehearted enough to succeed? They also tell Callie that her colleagues are 'demons, witches and fairies' and that she herself is a rare doorkeeper, able to 'open and close the door to the world of Faerie'.

Callie's dreams stop and she finds herself strongly attracted to a new colleague at Fairwick, Liam Doyle. But, as their relationship develops, Callie notices that staff and students at Fairwick are being sucked dry of their life force - is her incubus at work?

It's a wonderful story, from the great romance at its heart to the mystery of Nicky's curse, the fascinating variety of unearthly creatures in the environs of Fairwick, and even Callie's delightful familiar, a small mouse.

As this first episode ends, Callie's grandmother enlists her in the Grove (a venerable institution of witches) and offers her help in return for Callie's spying on Fairwick. There's a lot going on in this series and I can't wait for the next episode, The Water Witch. Highly recommended.

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